For the student captains of the TJC Indoor Drum Line, juggling school and 30 hours of rehearsals a week is not uncommon.
“It is difficult to balance Indoor Drum Line rehearsals with class, work and other music obligations that I have,” said Marimba Captain Steven Salazar. “We practice about 30 hours a week and give our entire weekends up in dedication to the music.”
Salazar, a three year veteran of percussion, is head of the percussionist ensemble, a part of the drum line that includes non-moving instruments such as marimbas, xylophones and keyboards.
“I am under the directors, so I always ensure that I do as they ask. I do most of my leading by just being a good example; showing up to rehearsals or sectionals, practicing on my free time and always doing what I am told during rehearsals,” said Salazar. “I am expected to know the music so I can teach others properly. I act as the other musicians’ listening point.”
Sophomore Joshua Alderete, snare captain of the ensemble, is excited to give the audiences a show much different from last year’s performance.
“It is exhausting throughout the semester with constant practices. Having to carry drums on your body for hours at a time and physically conditioning yourself while doing so isn’t easy. But it’s rewarding to see yourself get into shape both physically and musically,” said Alderete. “We are not allowed to have sheet music in front of us to look at while we are rehearsing our drill. So we are having to memorize choreography while staying in step with one another, while carrying heavy drums, all while having to remember six minutes worth of music. It is one of the most intense opportunities that a percussionist can have.”
Indoor Drum Line is pegged by Winter Guard International, an organization dedicated to the theater of music, as being a three way combination of music performance, theater and athletics.
Students participating in Indoor Drum Line will begin the season on Feb. 2 in Houston and end the semester at the national championships in Dayton, Ohio in April. They will also travel to Kentucky this semester.
Although Indoor Drum Line has been a tradition of the Apache Band since 2007, this show is guaranteed to be different than any other season.
“We have a completely different show this year. The band has hired new writers for the show. The new music is going to connect more to the audience. Rhythms and grooves are more diverse than it has been in previous years. The music is much more challenging, so I know the show has high expectations,” said Alderete.
Tom McGowan, coordinator of Indoor Drum Line and director of percussion, believes this drum-oriented organization holds very unique experiences.
“This branch of the Apache Band has more emphasis on body movement and ballet forms. It is only for percussionists. There are no flutes or tubas incorporated in this group. We strive to make this worth the time that we spend trying to perfect it,” said McGowan.
Austin Tackett, coordinator for the front ensemble, sees improvement in this year’s show compared to last year’s practices.
“It is still early in the season. However, I never recall having such a dedicated group of people that are so eager to learn and are so focused and driven to receive great scores. Tardiness is not really an issue like it has been in previous years. This is their home for the next four months. The band hall has been the students’ home since late October,” said Tackett. “People are working ahead on memorizing their music. Everybody is eager and prepared to learn their music and choreography. Everyone has the best mindset to have when coming into such a competitive environment.”
The drum line will perform their show for TJC faculty and students in Wagstaff Gym before going on to the world championships from April 10-13. The date and time is still to be announced.