The Wylie percussion section is ready to do its part to pump up the excitement for Friday night football this fall.
While the cheerleaders, mascots, Belles and Pure Gold Band all have a big role to play in creating team spirit, nothing seems to drive the student body into a frenzy quite like the drumline.
“Everyone’s going crazy,” said percussionist Daniel Hervey. “It’s a lot of fun. I love it.”
The drumline has several roles to play in the overall Friday Night football experience. Of course, it is part of the Pure Gold Band and must do its part to put on a top-notch half-time show for everyone in the stands and for UIL competition.
That is especially important this year, as the band will be competing for a chance to go to state.
“The show itself, we have to be really disciplined,” Daniel said.
Drum Captain Zach New agreed.
“We hold the band together,” Zach said. “You have to drown everything out. You really have to focus. You have to make sure you are in unity. They will notice if you are not.”
But when the drummers aren’t doing the halftime show or performing with the band in the stands, the drumline gets to have a little fun. The drumline is often featured in pep rallies, and the percussionists play in front of the student body section with the cheerleaders during the second half of football games.
“That’s our time to relax and just have fun with the student body,” Daniel said.
Jared Heidema said the student body really responds to the drummers. “They will be jumping up and down in the bleachers,” he said. “You can tell if you are doing something the school likes. We
will try to play the ones they like.”
Kaeli Denigro who plays the marimba said the drumline also feeds off the students. “When we come up to the students, and everyone starts getting excited, it makes us feel great,” she said. “We get excited as well.”
“I love pep rallies,” he said. “Pep rallies are a blast. I like all the energy you get. It hypes you up.”
The Wylie percussion section includes 28 people this year playing numerous instruments from the popular snare and quad drums to the bass drums to the marimba in the “pit.” The pit is the people who play on the sidelines during the halftime shows while the rest of the band is marching on the field. Marimbas are a type of xylophone.
Kaeli actually plays the flute in the band, but for the last three years, she has moved to the pit to play the marimba during marching season. She said during her sophomore year, percussion instructor David McKnight asked the band for volunteers with piano experience who were willing to move to the pit.
Kaeli volunteered and liked it so much she has continued ever since.
“It was something different,” she said. “It’s a different experience than anything I’ve done. It’s exciting.”
The percussionists say the very best thing about being in the drumline is not the frenzied crowds or being semi-celebrities among the student body. It’s the relationships they build with each other.
“I really like just being with the people and having fun,” Zach said. “It’s kind of like being a family.”
“Anybody on the outside thinks we are a cult,” he said. “But we are just our own little family. We spend so much time together. We all have the same passion for music.”
The drumline also plays at functions outside of school. Zach said the group played at the Alzheimer’s walk and at a fun run. And they are a big part of school “send-offs.” That’s when a student group is headed to a state UIL competition, and the student body gathers to pep them up and wish them well.
“That’s always fun getting to go through the halls, and all the students are there lined up,” Zach said. “That’s always a blast.”
Developing the precise timing that it requires to be successful in the drumline is not an easy task, but the percussionists say drumline is worth the work.
“While you are out there practicing, it’s not that great,” Jared said. “You put in hundreds of hours of work. But then you have something really cool to show for it in the end. We get to do something really fun in the end.”
Daniel absolutely agreed.
“It’s worth it,” he said. “Music is my passion, and I love the drums. To me, it’s worth it.”