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Building a tradition

Drumlines from area schools compete at first PPHS invitational at Massey Stadium

Students from six different high schools braved the heat Saturday morning as they showcased their talents in front of a small but joyful crowd at the first Pilot Point Drumline Invitational at Massey Stadium.

Springtown High School took first place, Decatur High School came in second and Community High School took third.

Six high schools, Trenton, Brock, Ponder, Decatur, Springtown and Community, all battled it out on the 50-yard line in an event that lasted a little over three hours.

Pilot Point’s drumline closed the event with an exhibition performance with songs that included Crosby, Stills & Nash “Our House” and Les Misérables “Bringing Him Home.”

Josh Donnelly, system and percussion director for Pilot Point, said the theme for their performance was meant to evoke a feeling of being home.

“This year, we picked a show about being able to follow a story about a family building a house together,” he said. “It’s all these beautiful songs about being able to bring together this feeling of being home.”

The competition was started to give small schools, 4A and under, throughout North Texas, the opportunity to showcase their talents and their school percussion programs.

Donnelly said many of these contests nowadays have a huge impact on large schools, and there tends to be a large separation between the small school performances.

“We really want to encourage this contest to be a chance for newer programs and even smaller programs to have a chance to build up and display the impact that a small production program can have on a community,” he said.

The event was open to anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and had a panel of three judges: Connor Pickle, director of percussion at Royse City ISD; Michael Crawford, teaching fellow at the University of North Texas; and Curtis McCarthy, director of percussion at Anna ISD.

All participants were given a participation plaque and awards were given to the first, second and third places.

McCarthy said some of the areas the drumlines were judged on were how well they worked as a team, matching stick height and technique, and posture.

“Just technical things,” he said. All those things that we like to teach in our own individual classrooms. Also, when you’re out here performing by yourself, just being confident.”

Standstill drumline competitions consist of the drum line and front ensemble performing their marching show on the field with drum stands or harnesses. Most drumline competitions require participants to wear full-on marching uniforms, but because of the weather they were allowed to wear khakis and school T-shirts on Saturday.

Although the drumline is the main act being judged, some schools used electronic instruments as they performed their songs. McCarthy said even though electronic instruments are not required, he sees more and more of them being used in different ways, which makes it a lot of fun to listen to and a lot of fun to work with.

“There are more challenges of course,” he said. “How do you get power? How do you get charges? How do you get your mixers and everything lined up? It’s a Pandora’s box! So, if they are not using electronics, I don’t think they’re behind anybody.”

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