The Orrville drumline has much to be excited about

The Orrville drumline has much to be excited about
Dave Mast

Last week marked the first time Orrville High School band gathered music students in grade 6-12 into a single drumline, thanks to a $1,600 grant from the Orrville Alumni Association, which enabled the purchase of new instruments and musical arrangements.

                        

Last week marked the first time Orrville High School band gathered music students in grade 6-12 into a single drumline, thanks to a $1,600 grant from the Orrville Alumni Association, which enabled the purchase of new instruments and musical arrangements.

“The idea behind it is to get students in grades 6-12 together and collaborating,” Orrville band director Chris Jones said. “By sixth grade the kids are pretty comfortable with their instruments and are ready to start expanding what they know, so bringing them together with older players only helps that. When we got the idea to do this, we starting asking ourselves, ‘What’s the best way?’”

Things came together when Jones spoke with Cleveland Browns drumline leader John McFarland. “I asked him if he would help out by doing arrangements for Orrville, which enabled us to start our own project,” Jones said.

Part of the grant funds will go to pay for McFarland’s arrangements. “There are parts that are simpler for younger students and more challenging work for the more experienced, older players,” Jones said.

Friday, Jan. 18 after school marked the first time the group gathered in the band room. Jones was unsure just how many musicians he would end up with. “We opened it up to any band student in those grades with any instrument,” he said. “So if we got 25, 50 or 100, it’s great in any case.”

Jones said the key is that the students have a good experience, learn more about their instruments and gain skills while also creating something of which they can be proud.

“They will each grow as musicians, learn attainable goal setting, collaborate with each other, strengthen rhythm reading, bond as musicians and have fun doing it. And the kids I’ve spoken to are already excited about the music. McFarland’s arrangements are of ‘Immortals’ by Fallout Boy and ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,’ which is based on a popular dubstep song called of the same title by the artist Skrillex,” Jones said.

Concerning the grant funds, Jones said, “I believe there were several teachers who applied for the grant funds, and two were awarded money for their projects. It’s phenomenal that they gave us the grant to do this. It could not have happened without the Alumni Association’s support.”

Jones plans to work with Elyse Dye, who came to the Orrville musical department this school year, in coordinating students from the various grade levels.

Jones explained the reasoning behind bringing musicians of any instrument into the drumline. “Regardless of what instrument these participating students play, they can all experience, feel, create and benefit from the common denominator of beat and rhythm. Instrument fingerings and the trappings that beginners experience with a new instrument are not present if we are strictly working with rhythm and beat. In essence beginners through high school can readily experience, learn from and create with a differentiated application of drumming.”

Jones said along with the arrangements by McFarland, the grant funds enabled the purchase of a new marching snare drum and a set of marching quads.

Jones isn’t stopping with this new multi-grade collaborative effort. “In March we’re going to be working with visual arts students at the school. They will essentially be creating paintings at the front of the gym while our band musicians play behind them. We have a lot to be excited about this year.”


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