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If you happened to walk through Mantor hall in the past few weeks, you may have noticed something unusual... read more

Drummers take a beating to keep in line
Emily Wemhoff
Antelope Staff
Photo by Emily Wemhoff
David O’Neill, captain of the drumline, signals the drumline to make some noise after a touchdown was scored during the home football game.
Photo by Emily Wemhoff
Drumline performs for the crowd at a Loper football game. The drumline started practicing for their performances over a week before classes started.

Over a week before classes began and days before the remaining band members arrived for band camp, the UNK drumline pounded out a beat  ten hours  a day learning their music.

It didn’t come easy for all. To keep the beat and beat the heat, these drummers found that they had to rev up a hearty dose of self-discipline, focus and endurance.

First obstacle: individual practice to hold the sticks correctly— even if it doesn’t feel right.  It seems like a long process, but according to senior David O’Neill, an industrial distribution major from Kearney and captain of the drumline, “Once we get going, we go fast and furious.”

Indeed they are furious.  Every day, the drumline, made up of 17 members and one instructor, practices for upcoming performances. Not once is there a complaint about being tired.  They practice to perform— each individual on the drumline focused on every motion and movement.

Most members played on the drumline in high school, but some had never experienced marching on the field.

As for Mackenzie Cochran, the drumline instructor, “It’s a whole new ball game,” she said. “We don’t have any music when we perform, and our job is to really know our music so we are always ready for the band.”

The drumline works the beat with five bass drums, two tenor drums, five snare drums and four cymbals.  Players also perform on sideline instruments for halftime shows including xylophone, bells, gong and suspended cymbal.

The UNK drumline has certainly marked their spot.  “We are one of the loudest groups on campus.  When people hear the drums, they know we’re coming and they just have to move along with the beat,” Cochran said.

The group takes their show on the road too,  This year they performed at Wayne State.  They travel to high schools and organize small clinics for high school band members.

 Members of drumline do master tempo and beat, but the experience also teaches the tough lessons of life.  “Hard work will get results,” O’Neill said.     “Nothing will come easy, you have to work for it.”

“I don't think people realize how physical marching percussion performance really is because the drums and cymbals are quite heavy, especially when performing for a long duration such as in a parade,” Dr. Schnoor, director of bands, said, “The discipline and endurance exhibited by the members of the drum line while performing complex music with unity requires enormous skill and effort.”

It is evident that the many sun-blazing days marching on the field have been well spent and the beat will go on.  “Our main goal is to get better every day, even if it’s just a little bit,” O’Neill said.


Video by Emily Wemhoff
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