Members of Thomas Jefferson's drumline being heard loud and clear
It's a chilly Friday night under the bright stadium lights, and the Thomas Jefferson High School Jaguars and West Mifflin Titans are ready for a showdown.
More than the football teams are about to compete in this hyped-up, all-out South Hills rivalry.
During the third quarter of the game, held in October and hosted at Thomas Jefferson this year, members of both school's drumlines gather on the sidelines for a “Revolutionary War” style battle.
Standing face-to-face they fire their weapons – a cadence, or tune, at the other.
“We stand there – no emotion and take whatever they give,” said Thomas Jefferson High School senior and drum line captain Mike Capolupo, 18, who plays the quads. “Then we fire back.”
The winner is determined by student reaction, Capolupo said.
Extra attention has been given this year to the drumline section of Thomas Jefferson High School's marching band, consisting of roughly 18 students playing the cymbals, base drums, snares and quads.
A drumline class was added to the high school curriculum, which has given members of the drum line more time in-school to learn their music, they said.
Students also are showing added initiative by holding extra practices on their own at least twice a week during marching band season and performing at supplementary events, such as the girls' powder-puff game. They also have used technology to track, share and preserve some of their work, creating a YouTube video of the “drumline battle” against West Mifflin, and videotaping all of their cadences – or performance routines – in hopes of passing along what they have learned to future generations of the Thomas Jefferson band.
“That's really the thing that sets them apart. They're willing to take that extra step,” said percussion and drumline instructor Dan Hrvatin, also a teacher at Pleasant Hills Middle School.
As a newbie in the Thomas Jefferson drumline, there were many things that Capolupo said he and others wanted to know, such as how to perform a certain cadence. Students, though, had to learn on their own, or reference a video created in 2005, to get the techniques, he said.
Instead, Capolupo said he wanted to find a way to hand down lessons and techniques that members of the drumline already had captured.
“I don't want the things I've done for the drumline – for future generations – to dissolve,” said Capolupo, whose cousin, Giuseppe, a Thomas Jefferson graduate and former member of the drumline, inspired the 18-year-old to get involved in the band. “I don't want to be the year that was forgotten. I want to be the year that everybody refers to.”
So, this year's student leaders decided to film their performances in an attempt to leave a legacy of their work and teach next year's drumline techniques and strategies.
Members of the Thomas Jefferson drumline gathered on the high school stage in December to perform and video tape all 27 cadences, or all of this year's performances.
Thomas Jefferson High School's marching band director, James Mirabella, has plans to make a recording of all of the other sections performances this year, as well, high school senior and band President Carmen LoPresti said.
Creating a YouTube video of the “drum battle” between the Thomas Jefferson and West Mifflin drumlines also helps promote school spirit, students said.
All members of the band rally behind the drumline and show support for their school during the planned “drum battles,” that occurred this year between Uniontown, West Mifflin and at all band festivals, LoPresti said.
“The band likes to stand behind the drumline – we're like, ‘Don't mess with them,'” LoPresti said. “People don't realize how intense drumline really is.”
Recordings, both audio and video, help incoming freshman learn the music and timing for marching band season, LoPresti and Capolupo agreed.
Student leaders in the high school drum line organized extra practices this year and created the videos in an effort to improve their section of the band. They want to be the best, they said.
“We want our section to sound clean,” Capolupo said.
Having students take on a leadership role in school activities teaches them valuable lessons, Hrvatin said.
“We want them to solve these problems on their own,” Hrvatin said. “The challenge that I put on them is that it's their drum line. I put a lot of emphasis on student leadership.”
The students have answered Hrvatin's challenge.
“Not only do they want the drumline to look good, but they want to make sure that things are in place for future generations,” he said.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Brentwood Borough birthday event a big hit with students
- Brentwood EMS has new deal with borough for emergency services
- Brentwood to offer ALICE training to community
- Thomas Jefferson problem solvers ready for international event
- Website details Baldwin Borough spending
- Brentwood officials approve new HVAC equipment for building
- Tax increase part of West Jefferson Hills budget
- Registration deadline nears for Jefferson Hills summer recreation program
- Brentwood Council makes it official with new police chief
- Primary roundup: 2 West Jefferson Hills board members ousted
- Ferris ‘done’ with Baldwin Borough council