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Yough High School band finds (even) more rhythm

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
The Yough High School Band drum line gathers for a group photo during a recent practice session. The percussion ensemble is new to the band this year, adding yet another enhancement to the sucessful program. Desiree DeClaudio | For The Times-Sun
Members of Yough High School's new drum line practice for an upcoming competition. Desiree DeClaudio | For The Times-Sun

The Yough High School Band has kept busy through the winter months with the introduction of an indoor drum line. The incorporation of the drum line to the band marks the eighth independent group in the department.

Under the direction of Donald Green, Matt Robel and Chris St.Mars, the students in the drum line have worked hard to develop this new program. The line is comprised of about 15 students ranging from freshmen to seniors.

Competing involves a great deal of preparation from this newly formed group. For the competition, the group must prepare a four-minute show.

The judges make their decisions based on the visual appeal of the moving show, the skill level presented and technical skill, which examines details such as the way the drum sticks or mallets are held.

For the upcoming competition, the drum line has prepared “Hoedown” by the composer Aaron Copland, more commonly known as the music from the “Beef, it's what's for dinner” commercial. The drum line is hoping to make it to championships later this year, depending on how they rank at the competitions.

The team of instructors had a lot to say about their students. “My band students put a great deal of time into band. In fact, they put over 200 hours into the marching band season alone. I would say that I have a very dedicated bunch,” said Green, the band director.

As for percussion instructor St.Mars, he is excited that this new addition keeps the students busy during their so-called “off-season,” saying, “It gets them involved in technical skill. It is another outlet for them to try, bringing them together for a common goal.”

Roble, also a percussion instructor, noted the importance of each band program working together to improve the others. “The indoor drum line is great for the continuation of developing skills for the marching band. Good indoor programs will always lead to good outdoor programs,” he said.

The chance to participate in multiple groups in the band department also gives many of the students the opportunity to experiment with new instruments. Senior Logan Franks is used to playing the trumpet in marching band, but has been able to try percussion instruments such as the chimes. “I wanted to expand from just the marching band,” he said.

Senior snare player Dale Desmond is optimistic about what groups such as the drum line means for the music program in the Yough School District as a whole. He said, “It helps kids learn more than what they are exposed to in middle school, it shows them other instruments. I hope that this will show the parents of students how a music program can develop in a school.”

Maria Kegg, a senior quads player, is very passionate about her involvement in the band programs. “It is my senior year, and I love to play. I love to spend time with these guys. It gives us a chance to improve and have fun,” she said.

While the seniors only have one drum line season with the band, they have a strong force behind them with the underclassmen. Reid Stahley and Jarrod Collins, both freshmen, expressed prolonged interest in the group. Reid, who plays the bass drum, said “I figured it would be fun, so I decided to join. I am also planning on joining the marching band.” Jarrod, a snare drum player described his decision to join the group saying, “I just have a strong passion for playing the drums.”

Clearly there is no lack of interest or passion in the students involved in the drum line at Yough High School.

The drum line, along with the winter color guard and majorettes will be starting a series of competitions on March 9 at McKeesport High School. The event is open to the public.

Desiree DeClaudio is a freelance writer.

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