Marching to the beat of their own drums: MCHS percussion


All parts of our band have a very important role in the show. However, our percussion section is how the band depends on the tempo to play. The percussion section is made up of the drumline and the front ensemble. At the 1st competition our band received 1st place in their division! I got to interview 3 of the guys in percussion. Here is what they said in the interview:

Redden Belk is a junior and he is a part of the percussion. He is specifically a part of the drumline, and he has been a part of percussion since 6th grade. He wanted to be a part of the marching band because he would go to the Georgia games and watch the Redcoat’s performance thinking it was so cool. He loves playing in the marching band and thinks it is so fun. When asked if he ever believed he would be a part of the band, he said “He doesn’t know it’s just something that happened he never thought that he would but there was nothing in his brain that said you can’t do this.” His favorite part about the marching band is just being around friends and doing something he enjoys with them. His favorite part of the show is the finale because he thinks it is so fun to play. Redden wants everyone to know, “It’s a lot more work than it looks . It is a lot of work especially during school and after school and especially during the summer.” To him being a part of the band means being a family; not just in your section, but the whole band. He likes the theme of this year’s show because it is really interesting and he likes how it has a literal meaning that anyone can relate to the meaning of. The last question I asked was “Is being a part of the drum line easy?”. Redden said, “No. It is pretty difficult. We are playing to the band’s tempo, and everyone is having to rely on you. Not only is it the music part, but it’s also kind of stressful because they are relying on you.”

Ethan Brantley is a senior and he is a part of percussion instruments such as drums, keyboards and any other instruments that does not require your breath to play. He specifically plays a 50lb set of drums called the tenors. He started playing the tenors because in 8th grade there was a senior named Eli Woodward who played the tenors and his older brother Matthew played them before him as well. He added “I just thought it looked so cool and challenging to play such a weird instrument and as a result I’ve played it for the last 4 years.” His favorite part of the show is the second movement because that is when he gets to go play on the vibraphone with the front percussion ensemble. He said his favorite part about being in the band is “The atmosphere of the band is very different and not for everyone I’d say, but I love being surrounded by people who are working hard to put out a great performance.” Ethan said that to him being a part of the band means being a “productive and skilled performer by putting in the time and effort to improve” as well as helping his fellow performers to improve their talents. Ethan wants one thing to be known about percussion and drum line in general is that none of the instruments are easy to play. He said “It is easy to beat a drum senseless with a wooden stick but to pick up, learn, and master an instrument is something that takes years. And yes that even goes for the triangle.” As far as him for the topic of the band getting the appreciation he thinks that the band is appreciated in different ways for different people. He believes that some people may not particularly care for the band and he is okay with it. He believes though, there is something for everyone to appreciate about the band. He thinks it would be nice to get a little more attention or recognition for the things they work so hard for. 

Cohen Ivey is also a senior in the percussion section. He plays the marimba (2nd position) in the front ensemble. He plays the marimba because percussionists get to choose from a lot of different instruments, but he thought the marimba is the mascot for melodic percussion so it stood out to him. Plus he said it is a really fun instrument to play. His favorite part of the show is the third movement (Daft Punk section) because it is super fun to play since it’s got a lot of fast stuff for the keyboards. He did add though that finally (reprise of ‘such a good feeling’) gives him goosebumps almost every time they play it. Then I asked him what his favorite part of being in the band is and he said “DEFINITELY the bus rides and the inside jokes (which often originate from the former).” One thing Cohen would like people to know about percussion is that “When people think of percussion they usually think drums or one of those old cymbal monkey toys, but there’s actually a surprising amount of elegance and extensive practice that goes into learning and remembering how to play tons of different instruments on demand.” On the topic of appreciation for the band he believes the school is pretty supportive of the band, especially the football players and student section that seem to really enjoy the stand tunes. He said that being apart of the band means “Fridays and Saturdays before we perform disconnect us from our studies- not to say we aren’t representing the school but rather we are representing MC as performers: dancers, musicians, artists, and writers- not students; we know what we’re doing and we’re going to make it happen.”

Now for the topic about this part of the article, the percussion getting 1st place in their division for their first composition. The first band competition took place at Baldwin County High School and our band is in the 3A division. That night our percussion got to take home a trophy for 1st place. I asked Redden Belk, Ethan Brantley, and Cohen Ivey how it felt when they heard that they got 1st place in their division. Redden stated “I felt so excited. I was like finally! Everything that we had worked on had finally paid off and it just made me really happy.  Ethan said, “Honestly, it was mostly relief at first. The competition day is very stressful leading up to the performance. It’s all about keeping a focused mindset and it’s not over until you hear them call your name out. And obviously next it was bliss. Being surrounded by your drum line as you hear you won is a sense of camaraderie like no other.” And the last person I asked was Cohen and he said “”Well, to be honest, I was relieved. As the awards were being announced, it seemed like our band wasn’t going to get any. That being said, I wasn’t too surprised by percussion’s placement based on our awards in previous years. But taking the past into account, the band, drum majors, and Color Guard’s recognition in their hard work was really underwhelming that competition. But hey, we still placed pretty high as far as numbers go, so it is what it is. There’s always more competitions and I’m really excited to see the underclassmen continue to excel after I graduate.”