Leading the Beat


Bailey McTavish

Before every assembly, the thumping of drums is what sends students down to the gym or field.

Senior Caylea Dill has been involved with percussion since she was in eighth grade.

“It started when I auditioned for band, I was gonna to be a flute player but my dad convinced me that percussion was cooler so I auditioned for drums and flute and when I auditioned for drums I auditioned first and I go up there and I performed and the guy who’s there wrote ‘take her’ and then I went to flute and then I nailed that one but since I went to battery first he ended up putting me on battery (marching percussion) so it just worked out like,” Dill said.

“When I was a Freshman I was on frontline and I saw the battery and they’re like the coolest people I ever knew. And at the football games, they have to do so much like they played with the football team, marched them down, got to play at the tailgate so they have so many opportunities and it’s just something I really wanted to be a part of,” Dill said.

Dill said that drumline has taught her how to break out of her shell and be more outgoing.  

“To be more social because I’m naturally like a quiet person and like with a group full of guys you learn to break out of your shell and they also taught me to be a leader because last year I was chosen to be a little section leader for my baseline. It’s a lot of thinking on your feet,” Dill said.

Dill said she plans on taking the skills she has learned while being apart of drumline and applying it to her future career.

“I want to be a teacher after college so it taught me to be comfortable speaking in front of people and sharing my opinion and getting opinion from others,” Dill said.

Dill said she gets nervous every time she is about to perform.

“You want people to like your show and at football games, it’s during halftime so that’s the time people are moving around getting snacks and stuff. It doesn’t help that it is in front of your peers, like people you’ve known forever and your like ‘oh man am I gonna mess up’ and all this other stuff,”  Dill said.

Junior Jared Fulghen feels the complete opposite about performing. He has never felt nervous in front all of the big crowds except for his freshman year. Now Fulghen is always confident when he is performing.

This year they won second and third in their competitions as a group. Dill said performing at competitions are even more nerve-racking for her.

“Then at competitions to add on to that you have judges who are critiquing you and walking around the field watching you, speaking into a recorder. It’s nerve-racking but it’s so fulfilling,” Dill said.

Her dad is the one who inspired her to get involved with percussion which led Dill to join drumline. As well as those involved in Drumline and music before her.

“My dad because he was always a music person and he gets so excited when you talk about music it’s something that we kind of connect on. All the people who have been on drumline before me, like all my friends who graduated, their love and passion for drumline is amazing. They have done so much to contribute the group that I just want to help and do the same. Hopefully, when I’m gone they’ll think of me the same way,” Dill said.

Fulghen said his purpose for joining drumline was the dedication that was involved.

“Just mainly the dedication. Basically, we get to practice earlier and leave late and I just like that, and it builds unity with all of us,” Fulghen said.

Fulghen said he has learned how to stay at attention for a good length of time and what he should or should not do when performing. In addition to this, he said he’s learned ways on how to be a good leader.

“I learned a lot of leadership skills, like how to organize a practice and how to handle situations that don’t normally occur,” Fulghen said.

Fulghen said he plans on continuing with drumline in college and that his cousin is to thank for that.  

“He was in drumline before me and I do everything my cousin does,” Fulghen said.

Brandon Johnson is the director in charge of drumline here at Lee’s Summit West. He said his main job is to prepare the students for their performances and competitions.

“My role stops as soon as they are on the field/floor/venue ready to perform. Until then, my role is primarily presenting materials like sheet music and technique builders and offering feedback as they rehearse through the material. When students get to this level, they are capable of reading and interpreting music on their own. My job is to offer ideas about their playing that hopefully will push them to a higher level of performance,” Johnson said.

Johnson said his main goal for the students is to take away skills that will help serve them in their future with whatever they decide to do.

“My hope is that students take away valuable life skills such as: being part of a team, working effectively with others even when opinions differ, time management, how to practice (that goes for anything, not just their instrument),  and how to be a leadership type whether they are offered the title of “leader” or not,” Johnson said.

Drumline prepares students for things they need to know that will be beneficial for them in the future.

“I feel that learning how to be a part of a team is essential for when they become part of a workforce team whether that is a board member of a Fortune 500 company or working construction with a crew on a job site. Both are very good jobs with the need for teamwork among its members.

I also think that gaining the ability to practice is essential to their future. In order to get better at anything, there is practice involved. Students in the Titan Pride organization learn those skills from very early on when they are starting in 5th grade at their elementary schools. Being able to break something down and understand it will serve them well anywhere and with any career,”  Johnson said.

There is an audition for students and they get placed in a spot that would be the best fit for them in the ensemble.

“Students that are band members all through elementary and middle school are automatically members of the ensemble. When they come to the high school, we do have an audition process that allows students to audition for where they are best fitted for the ensemble. Each instrument has its challenges. Can you play piano? You probably have a good skill set for being a marimba player. Can you play drum set? You probably have a good skill set for one of our accessory percussion spots. These are sorted through that audition process.

Students that are not current or continuing members of band are certainly allowed to audition as long as they have the ability to read music and play with what we consider an academic technique that most music teachers use in their private studios or classrooms,”  Johnson said.

Leadership skills are definite character traits of the students on drumline and band in general.

“I am biased as I have a passion for percussion, however, I do strongly believe that ANY fine arts activity encourages leadership skills. There are students in our ensemble that participate in theater, choir, orchestra, visual arts, athletics, JROTC, and several other activities. I think that all of these combined with their participation in our ensemble create a potential for leadership,” Johnson said.

“In order to manage their calendar alone, these students have to possess a self-driven initiative that not all people develop. Do I think we help foster those qualities in all of these activities and athletics? Yes. Do I think it is exclusive to our ensemble? No… but it can’t hurt,”  Johnson said.

“Now that marching band season is over I am going to miss going to rehearsals and hanging out with my section every Tuesday and Thursday night. Being on drumline it takes a lot of work and time outside of school; with that, we all get really close and we become a family. None of us really mind the work because the people in drumline make it fun and completely worth it,” Dill said