|A bass drumer for the RIT Drumline puts his instrument on in the parking lot of Onondaga Community College before their performance at the New York State Percussion Circuit Championship on April 7 in Syracuse, N.Y.
Once a year a group of RIT students is herded into a tent where they anxiously await their turn to perform at the New York State Percussion Circuit. An RIT alumnus gives a penny to each of the Drumline members to symbolize how each one is a smaller part of a greater group. His moving words reach them and he pulls them together for a hands-in right before their performance.
Natalie DiPaola, a fourth year Animation major and president of RIT’s Drumline, was ablaze: “We played the best show we’ve done all season and everyone was happy about it. I was so proud of the group! We really appreciate our alumni like Matt Sansone who came out and supported us.”
RIT’s Drumline is an SG-recognized performing arts group made up of battery and pit percussion ensembles. Drumline performs throughout the year at campus sports events and festivals such as Springfest and Imagine RIT.
This year RIT Drumline was the only group competing in its class. Ryan Hare, fifth year Electrical Engineering major and Musical director/vice president, recalled, “Syracuse University, Cornell, and Onondaga Community College used to be in our class, but that was a long time ago. Sadly, there just aren’t too many college lines anymore.” DiPaola explained further, “A lot of it depends on funding. The independent class means it can be a community group, a college, or pretty much any type of line. The groups that we normally compete against either didn’t have enough money to continue or not enough interest.”
The New York State Percussion Circuit begins in February and ends in April every year. When the circuit ends, Drumline members decide on a theme for next season’s performance, select a songwriter, and begin practicing the new set of songs in September.
This year things happened a little differently. “When we got the finished product, we didn’t think it was challenging enough for us,” DiPaola stated, “we wanted to try something totally different.” Hare, first year Computer Science major Erik Ritter, and graduate Film Production student Jessica Cooper took on the challenge. The three joined forces to write and arrange all of the parts for the performance.
Although groups typically pay a professional to arrange music, DiPaola was highly supportive of her Drumline members: “Now we can truly say we are 100 percent student run.”
Under these circumstances the Drumline began officially practicing for the circuit in December and had to work extra hours to make up for the lost time. However, DiPaola didn’t mind the extra hours: “Practice is fun because we can hang out and mess around when there’s some down time. The people on Drumline were some of the first friends I made here when I was a freshman and they’re still my best friends today.”
At the end of the day, taking home their fourth state championship trophy was just icing on the cake for the RIT Drumline. Hare summed up the experience saying, “I think it was great just seeing everyone excited to perform and put on a really great show. The championships aren’t that important to us; it’s really all about representing RIT and having a good time doing it.”