Swoopin’ to a new beat: A new music program drums up buzz around campus

Zoe McGhee • Copy Editor

Patriot Drumline
The Patriot Drumline is all-smiles after their first successful practice as a group.

There’s a new heartbeat on the UT Tyler campus. A heartbeat defined by buzzes, double-strokes and paradiddles. A heartbeat riddled with bass splits, cymbal crashes and stick clicks. A heartbeat that doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“The initiative to start a drumline came from the administration and the athletic department,” Patriot Drumline director Dr. Oni Lara explained. “The idea was to have an organization that could be a musical ambassador for the University throughout the East Texas community, while also serving the university at athletic and on-campus events. [It] has been implemented to engage the student body, energize school spirit and promote a pride in the UT Tyler brand.”

The first round of auditions for the line was held during the month of October, followed by a second round on Nov. 13. For auditions, students were required to attend at least one of the three clinics hosted by Lara, as well as attend a designated audition day in which students were required to perform music from an audition packet.

“The first installment of the drumline was a success,” Lara said. “We are aiming for 15 plus students for our first performance in January. There will be opportunities each semester to audition for the drumline, [as we] are looking at increasing the size each semester.”

Concerning the time commitment that is often associated with being in a band, Lara assures this won’t be an issue.

“As compared to the rehearsal, performance and football game schedule of a marching band, the time commitments of the UT Tyler drumline will be much less,” Lara said. “Members could expect to rehearse and perform only a few hours a week, and we are happy to work with the students’ schedules.”

Sophomore biology major Kyle Ferrer was one of the students who auditioned and is one of the founding students on the line.

“On the day of the audition, you audition as a group, and he just listens to how you play and looks as your technique,” Ferrer explained excitedly. “From that you just play the different exercises, and he substitutes people in and out on different instruments just to see and hear what they would sound like. I found out I made the line via an email [sent] the following day. I was pretty excited [and] really happy about making the line and making the instrument I wanted.”

Students such as junior business major Sarah Escobodo decided to try out on a whim and was not disappointed with the outcome.

“I heard about the drumline from a sign I saw outside of the MET,” Escobodo said. “I tried out just to see if I could make it and because it said any level could audition. I was very excited to see that I made it and on the instrument I wanted. I made snare drum. Since auditioning, it has been fun. All the people that also made the line are pretty cool and nice.”

Other students’ motives to audition were fueled by a love for band since high school, one being freshman kinesiology major Christian Bueno.

“I did drumline in high school and absolutely loved it,” Bueno said. “I wanted to continue that in college. I found out [that I made it] through email, and I felt proud and excited. Since the auditions, the whole drumline got together and put custom drum wraps on our new drums. It was a lot of fun, and I can tell that we’re all going to get along well.”

Despite the short life of the drumline thus far, it’s evident there’s already a family forming.

“Honestly, I can't say much about how it’s been since auditioning since we haven't really gotten to drum much together,” Ferrer said. “I will say that being on the line has really helped me have a second family. It's such a small group as of now that everyone is starting to feel comfortable and just enjoy drumming together.”

Students that are apprehensive about trying out are strongly encouraged to do so, primarily for the experience.

“It honestly is a great thing to do and super fun regardless of [any previous band] experience,” Ferrer said. “Do not feel discouraged if you have never been on a line because Dr. Lara will teach you, and other members on the line are willing to help teach as well. If you think you'd love to just drum out with people who love to drum too, definitely think about auditioning!”

The Patriot Drumline hopes to perform at numerous upcoming events on and off campus, and they are encouraging anyone and everyone to attend.

“People should come out to the events that the drumline will perform at because it will be special,” Ferrer said. “It would really make events a lot more exciting and fun to be at since everyone really loves drumline and the music they can make. Basketball games [could] be so much more involved and [we could] definitely get the crowd/student section going. I think that it would be great just to support something so relatively new to our campus!”

The line already performed at both the men's and women’s basketball games on Jan. 15. New member Holden Logan expressed anticipation for future performances.

“I was excited for our first performance,” Logan said. “There were definitely some uncertainties about when we would play and what we would do, but it was a good learning experience for all of us. We look forward to being at more sporting events.”

For any further questions, comments or concerns, email Dr. Lara at olara@uttyler.edu, or visit https://www.uttyler.edu/music/ensembles/patriot-drumline/.

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