Perry Central launches history-making drum line

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Instructors believe it's first one in school's history

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

LEOPOLD - History is being made in the launching of a drum line at Perry Central Community School, according to the music directors there, who can find no evidence of a precedent.

The ensemble was scheduled to compete for the first time Saturday, and "we feel like we're going to have an outstanding show," Assistant Music Director James Powell said Friday.

Monday editions of The News are printed Saturday mornings, so weekend events can't be reported until Thursdays.

Starting from scratch involved recruiting performers, often those who play non-percussion instruments and even some from outside the band program, Powell said. Rules had to be established and students had to learn how to work with each other.

"It's a little tough to get everyone on the same level," Powell said. Playing in gymnasiums is a little different from the football fields marching bands are used to, but the group has fewer instrument groups to worry about, as well, he said.

"We have to work through a lot of little problems," Powell said, "but so far, this is the best group I've ever had."

He worked with an independent drum line in Owensboro, Ky., he said, which progressed to the point it was attracting performers up to 22 years old from area colleges and went on to achieve a second-place award at world-level competition.

Having a drum line "keeps kids drumming all year," benefiting other areas of the school's music program, Powell said. Those pulled into the drum line included "strong musicians, people Mr. Cason trained to a level of excellence," he added. Rob Cason is Perry Central's music director, but Powell is in charge of the drum line.

Powell, who has worked with drum lines since his own high-school days 20 years ago, knows his group is up against tough competition.

"Indiana is probably the third or fourth strongest participant in marching band and winter drum line," he said. "That's partly why Indiana bands are so strong. I haven't seen other groups, but this is a hotbed."

Perry Central's drum line is 18 members strong, and "growth is the thing we're really excited about, as far as how much their musicality has improved," Powell said.

They were scheduled to perform in Indianapolis Saturday, and will go to Corydon this weekend. Another show will take them to Indianapolis again the following Saturday, and success there will mean a run at state-level honors the next week.

"We've put so much time into getting ready to compete," Powell said, and due to the short competition season, "we're almost done."

He also said he's grateful for support he's received from school staffers and parents.