Marching to the beat of a first place finish

Bay Beach Amusement Park was filled with much more than the creaking of rides, laughter, and screams on September 24. The West Drumline competed in the second annual DrumFest, a competition held at the popular Green Bay destination, winning the first place prize. The rhythmic beat of various drumlines echoed across the park on the day of the festival. The Wildcat drumline successfully competed through several divisions and advanced to the finals, in which they outplayed other schools within separate brackets to win the competition.

“Basically there are two divisions, each division performs, and by performing you knock out one of the other drum lines, leading into the finals,” Oz Barotto, a junior percussionist said.

West advanced through the divisions, playing different melodies including, “G7 Cruise Control”, “Spring Swing”, “De Nada” and “Flammables”, to quickly advance.

“We started in the third position, and since the other schools were so focused on choreography, we advanced. We just did basic choreography and played longer,” sophomore Paige Lucas said.

With the songs picked out weeks prior to the performance, plenty of time was left open for practice and perfection.

“We were prepared,” junior David Makar said. “We practiced a lot both in school at our meets and individually at home; the time spent working definitely helped.”

One drawback to the performance was the location. It had rained the night before, and the performance field the drummers were forced to troop through was drenched and muddy. Try as they might, their surroundings still affected their final performance.

“There was a stage next to us that messed up our tempo because of the echo,” Lucas said.

Regardless of the location, West Drumline consistently played in an advanced demeanor. The instruments involved in the creation of their performance included snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, and cymbals.

“We do something that no other baseline does: we split the bass drums; we don’t play in unison,” Barotto said.

This unique element to West’s drumline pays off. Although they stray away from a typical team, Makar attests to the enthusiasm going into their performance no matter the environment.

“It was exciting. As a drumline, we’ve never done anything like it,” he said. “It’s usually just parades or half time performances, so this was the first time we were really tested as a line.”

Also at DrumFest, each line played a group cadence, and this year’s event featured a clinic by Ben Hans, a world class drummer. A competition called “Instant Replay” was included, where drummers had to perfectly repeat a played lick, judges listening for accuracy.  This event took much preparation, and the Drumline put in the necessary time to have success.

“We practiced, practiced, and practiced. We practiced together two days a week, each for two hours,” Barotto said. “This group of kids is really dedicated.”

With this work ethic in mind, Makar looks to the future of the program as a whole.

“Now that we are done with the competition, we will go on to practice for this coming Christmas parade,” he said. “We will be ready for whatever comes next.’

Performing in front of others isn’t a new experience for the West Drumline. The group plays in two holiday parades and in the Memorial Day Procession, as well as at different athletic events throughout the year. While the squad enjoyed the dat at Bay Beach, they prefer to perform.

“[The event] was about just basically having fun and just kind of seeing what other schools are like,” Lucas said. “It was a fun experience. I’m glad we won, and I’m looking forward to next year.”

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