Frequently Asked Questions:
What exactly is "drumline"?
Drumline is the group of students in the marching band that play percussion instruments. Some students march with their instruments (the battery) and some play stationary instruments on the front sideline (the pit/front ensemble). Together these two sections make up the rhythm section of the marching band.
What is the pit?
There are the two groups that make up the drumline - the pit and the battery. The pit is the front sideline section of the band that does not march. It gets its name from orchestra pits, where symphony musicians are seated beneath a stage during musicals, ballets, or operas. The pit includes a keyboard section, with wooden instruments like xylophones and marimbas, and metal instruments like vibraphones, bells and chimes, and an auxiliary section, comprised of timpani (large kettle drums), hand drums like bongos and congas, and various smaller percussion instruments like cymbals, triangles, tambourines, and shakers.
What is the battery?
The battery is the marching section of the drumline. They are on the field with the rest of the band during a performance and they wear or carry their instruments. Our battery is comprised of three sections: snares, tenors, basses. Snares are a single drum with metal springs, or "snares", stretched across the bottom of the drum that vibrate when the drum is hit. Tenors (commonly called quads) have 4 to 6 horizontally-connected, shallow drums. Grandville's tenors have 6 drums, 4 larger ones and 2 smaller, high-pitched drums called a shot drums. A bass drum is a single drum worn on the chest and played vertically, with one arm on each side. Usually in a marching band there are several bass drums, ranging from small, higher-pitched ones to bigger, lower-pitched drums.
Why does the drumline have more practices than the band?
With so many area bands practicing three or four times a week, plus Saturdays, the Grandville Band and Drumline staff feel that we can remain competitive while also leaving plenty of time for students to do homework and be involved in other activities if they choose. The drumline practices one night a week from late winter/early spring through the summer until band camp. After band camp, Monday night rehearsals are added, where the drumline practices with the entire band. The drumline is vital to the marching band in keeping the correct tempo and rhythm - if the drumline falls apart in a performance, so does the rest of the band. So it's very important that the drumline is secure in their parts and is very familiar with the parts being played by other drummers. By having two practices a week, we strive to make our percussion section the best it can be, and try to ensure that the rest of the marching band can depend on us for a consistent tempo.
Why is the drumline always dismissed later than the rest of the band at practices?
Practice ends at 9:30, so why isn't your student let out of practice until 9:45? Well, we try our hardest to get the students out of practice in a timely manner, but please understand that the drumline has some of the largest and heaviest equipment in the entire band to take care of each week. The drumline often has a short meeting after practice, but also, the pit has to move all of their equipment off the field and back into the band room after practice ends - and they have a lot of equipment! To help things move more quickly, each student in the pit is assigned certain instruments to take on and off the field, but the instruments are often heavy or fragile, and the process of moving all the equipment inside can take 10-15 minutes. Please be patient and know that we will try to get your student out of practice as soon as possible.
What uniform do pit students wear to performances?
Pit students need to have the black band pants, black band shoes, jacket and gauntlets that every marching band student is assigned. Pit students DO NOT wear gloves, hats, or plumes.
What should my student bring to practice?
Because most band and drumline rehearsals are outdoors, it's important that students wear clothing and shoes appropriate for the weather. Sandals are not allowed because they impede proper marching technique and do not offer sufficient support, and in the case of pit students, toes can be run over by heavy equipment. During fall practices, students should always have coats and gloves. We also recommend a hat or earmuffs. For summer rehearsals, students may want to bring a water bottle and insect spray. Every student should have their music folder and a pencil with them at every practice throughout the year.
What's drum corps?
Drum corps, or drum & bugle corps, (we drummers tend to leave out the "bugle" part) is like high school marching band in that there's a battery, pit, color guard, and a horn line (but no woodwinds) performing a marching program in competition. And just like marching band, there are different divisions of drum corps depending on the number of members. You can join a drum corps as young as 14, and age-out at 22, meaning you cannot join or remain in a drum corps if you will turn 23 at any time during the active season. Drum & bugle corps are usually not affiliated with any institution, but most are affiliated with and based in certain cities, as in the Madison Scouts or the Seattle Crusaders. Performers must audition for drum corps. Once they're officially part of the corps, they practice on weekends through the winter, and then begin a spring & summer tour when they compete against other drum corps through mid-August. The biggest organization of drum & bugle corps is Drum Corps International, or DCI. You can find out more about them at www.dci.org.