Drumline CAN-not wait to perform at halftime

Sydney Pomrening, Contributor

The progression of homecoming week means out-of-the-box costumes, pep rallies, and the anticipation of Saturday’s dance, but for the band, it signals the draining sand in the hourglass of their time to prepare for the halftime show.

Homecoming approached rapidly this year, giving the band only three weeks to learn an array of compositions from Disney Classics. All three bands — Concert Band, Wind Symphony, and Honors Band — would gather out on the football field during fourth hour. Some days, however, Mr. Thaldorf, the conductor here at North, keeps the percussionists indoors to hone in on their separate responsibilities. 

The percussion section is not allowed to read music during both the pregame and halftime performances and must instead memorize their parts or collectively agree on a few rhythms to fluidly play along with the rest of the band. To get the entire band on and off of the field, ready to dazzle those in the stands, it’s the percussionists’ job to play drum cadences in between songs. They swap between two called “Funk” and “Pyramid.”  As many assume, percussion instruments are the shutters and weathervanes on the house of music; however, for homecoming, they become part of the foundation.

The highlight of their contribution to the halftime performance is the annual drum feature, where the wind and brass players become the choreographed entertainment to a percussive arrangement, played by the drumline. This year, the percussion will perform “Smash Cans” featuring two snare drummers, Henry Ptacek and Jenna Kopitzke, and two quad players, Mac Bagwell and Tony Krueger, on actual trash cans.  It’s not the average surface that a percussionist of Appleton North would play on, but the brash sound offers another distinct layer on an already unique piece.

It’s been especially taxing learning and memorizing the drum feature in this short amount of time. Besides one I.E. period, the entire execution of the performance has been constructed in only a few days of the already brief marching season. From cymbals to quad drums, the players push an extra step in order to smooth out all the mistakes that, for a later homecoming date, would be leisurely workable at this point.  They have had no problem living up to the time crunching section expectations.

“Marching in percussion this year has been a blast. It made this year a lot better that I knew a lot of people and knew what I was doing,” Maddie Clark, sports editor for Noctiluca and bass drummer, explains. “I think that the drum feature has come together really well considering that we only had three weeks or so to put it together. The trash can idea is definitely a fun idea as well.”

The urgency of this deadline brought out their best, but so did the leadership of the drumline’s leader: Mac Bagwell.  In years prior, the leaders for percussion fell to one of two sides — his sophomore year, too strict, his junior year, too laid back.  His senior year, the leader himself, he found the balance to keep the students’ momentum of improvement flowing without dragging them down with stress.

“It’s been the best year by far [thanks to] the leadership of Mac Bagwell,” said the section assistant, Jackson Prestley.