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Thread: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

  1. #1

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    Default What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    Hi, I just recently got a spot on next year marching seasons drumline, and i've been told by the players that I will be playing the 4th and biggest bass drum. However, I would prefer to play tenors, but someone in the same grade as me (sophomore) is playing them, but I really don't care about that. Our last upperclassmen percussionist had graduated and he was a tenor player. After securing my spot on the drumline, now I need to secure a better instrument. (No offense bass drummers, but I am more of a tenor/snare person). I would settle for the snare position, but it was taken by a drummer1, (going to be sophomore next year).

    I brought it up with our drumline captain (drummer2) but he is telling me that we are going to have 4 bassist next year, 1 tenor, and 2 snares. However, the snare is going to be taken by the freshmen who will be a sophomore next marching season and a freshmen coming up from 8th grade (drummer3), who has marched with us playing snare.

    Anyway, shouldn't seniority matter? The upperclassmen should get first pick at instruments, since the people following will have an entire marching season with the instruments that they will use their seniority to pick.

    I was thinking of emailing my band director and asking him what he will be doing, but remind him of seniority. I would like your thoughts!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    First, The opinion of the drum instructor. Second, grades. No good grades, no play. Third, talent and ability. Even though you might feel you have seniority, trust the judgment of your percussion instructor. He is the instructor for a reason. No worries. If you are that concerned, politely make your feelings known to the percussion instructor first before you go to the band director (so now one gets any toes stepped on). I'm sure he will explain the situation to you and everything will work out.
    Last edited by Reverend D.; 03-05-2009 at 09:52 PM.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    Definitly bring it up in my line seniority is #1 because you have shown more dedication and givin more time and deserve it more but also skill is important and if you know a newer member is better fit for the position still bring up your concerns and explain that you are able to do the position you want and deserve it and explain why.
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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    Seniority doesn't mean a darn thing when ability to perform is paramount. You got a spot on the drumline and now you're complaining about the instrument. Are you so good a player that it's obvious you should be playing tenors or snare? Playing one of the Bass Drums is the surest way I know of training members to work within the drumline as a cohesive unit. I speak from having played snare drum in Drum Corps, being a high school band director with massive marching band competition experience, DCI drumline arranger and instructor with small class corps. You better hope that you have a line instructor and/or band director who is more concerned about "Sensitivity" than placing the right people in the right position for the betterment of the unit.
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  5. #5

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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    Quote Originally Posted by fiacovaz View Post
    Seniority doesn't mean a darn thing when ability to perform is paramount. You got a spot on the drumline and now you're complaining about the instrument. Are you so good a player that it's obvious you should be playing tenors or snare? Playing one of the Bass Drums is the surest way I know of training members to work within the drumline as a cohesive unit. I speak from having played snare drum in Drum Corps, being a high school band director with massive marching band competition experience, DCI drumline arranger and instructor with small class corps. You better hope that you have a line instructor and/or band director who is more concerned about "Sensitivity" than placing the right people in the right position for the betterment of the unit.

    This isn't dci its highschool kids and some kids dont have as much skill as others but they have shown more dedication and have been on the line longer should get the position of choosing if they can play the given materials. Yes skill is very important but that freshman still has 3 years ahead of him while he only has two and if he can play the materials IMO he should be given his instrument since he's given more to the line. but I also agree he should put people where he believes will make the line at its best but I see a flaw in that, because its your choice to be on the line and you pay to be in it and if he's giving you a part you dont like and you've been giving him at least one year on an instrument you didn't want to be on I would say leave since your'e not where you want to be and you have given your'e time and skills and shown dedication to the line.

    I would say if your not where you want to be by your junior year you should talk to your instructor (if you joined the line in 9th grade) your lower classman years dont expect your favored intsrument.
    Last edited by Beetbox; 03-05-2009 at 10:31 PM.
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  6. #6

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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    Although dedication and seniority are worthy things to have, I agree with Frank your position on the line should come down to ability to play the parts. When I was in high school I got bumped from 1st Trombone by a freshman, who has an absolutely phenomenal player. Was I a little embarrassed sure, but was it the right thing to do for the band to move me down to second, yes it was. I too have played in drumcorp, and we had players who had marched for decades, and played cymbals, or bass drum, or 3rd horn parts, because that's where their level of ability put them. Marching band is a competitive undertaking, and the spots like the positions on a sports team should be assigned by apptitude, an talent and not seniority. By the way don't sell the bass drum short, rudimental bass can have some pretty difficult passages. The band director probably wanted a strong player on the larger bass drum, because it will stand out in the mix.
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  7. #7

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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    My take would be the same as a sports team. If you have a Junior who's a better football player than a Senior, he gets to start. I think that's the way most things are decided in high school, isn't it? The one with the most ability gets the nod. In sports it's about winning, or fielding the strongest team. I don't think it should be any different in drumline, but that's only my opinion.
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  8. #8

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    Wow - this thread got good.

    My experience in this field is from 16 years of arranging for and teaching a competing HS drumline and pit of 15-20 members and 1 year marching DCI.

    First off, this is completely dependent on if your school goes to judged competitions or not. If you don't (which is fine), then extreme cleanliness in your line isn't as critical. In that case, unless there is a noticeable difference in talent, seniority and dedication to your program should be given a good deal of weight.

    If you do compete, then it's your instructor's job to put the best program on the field as possible, regardless of seniority. Hopefully no ones feelings get hurt in the process, but in a couple of years, all the high school drama will go away, so getting used to it now isn't the worst thing for a group of people to do. I personally treat each of my sections with the same respect and no one has gotten emotionally damaged in the process. The bass drum line is always what scares me at the beginning of a season. With 5 drums, #2 is the hardest, followed by #4, #1, #5, then #3. #2 is always my section leader and #4 the next best player. The whole line has to be put together carefully, or the entire section suffers. I sometimes make the snare and tenor lines hop on bass during exercises, and even though they have better hands in general, they can't ever play the parts smoothly. The pit also needs strong hands. My best player last year was in the 8th grade and came up to play marimba and vibes. When you're good, that's what counts in this situation.

    I've had many students that played bass drum all 4 years of high school and had a blast once I convinced them that they were as critical as anyone else. Other than soloists, the bass drum is the only instrument in the entire marching band where no one else is playing the same thing that you are. If you miss a note, no one is covering for you. In the Drum Corps world, the bass lines are the most fanatic of them all, almost like a religion (Bass Nation). The top 3 players have hands as good as the second tier in the snare line.

    Relax, practice, and don't worry about it too much as long as you learn something and have a decent amount of fun. For your director's sake, don't let your parents call and complain for you. That's always an uncomfortable discussion for all. Hopefully, they are trying hard to manage a very complicated activity.
    Last edited by Redeye; 03-06-2009 at 11:46 PM.
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  9. #9

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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    I guess you guys were right but not only skill is determined like church drummer pointed out your strength is another key factor which leads into size which is why I didnt make the line my freshman year...I was to small and they chose someone whos never played drums before (or marched) over me. but still talk to your instructor and ask why so you know what you need to get better at to make it next year or if its size let him know the instrument you want to play next year so you might get your instrument in your senior year.
    You can't change the past but you can always alter the future.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: What should determine a drummers position on the drumline?

    My drum line has TRYOUTS. I think going by seniority is a little unfair. Tryouts are reasonable. (just be sure who ever picks the positions doesn't pick favorites!)

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