Drum: Line, Majors, Front Ensemble’s Award Winning Season

By: Shivani Handa and Isabel Terrett

Marching band had a successful season this year and brought home several awards, including special awards earned by our school’s drumline, front ensemble, and drum majors. Everyone knows our drumline, but might not know the hard work and dedication it takes to perform at a level to receive these awards. 

Our drum majors won special awards for their work during recent competitions. Drum majors are students who conduct the marching band and make sure that everyone knows what they need to do; drum majors don’t play an instrument themselves. Our three drum majors, Hailey Guerra, Sophia Hazuka, and Emily Piontek were awarded first place at competitions at West Johnston on October 9th and Western Alamance on October 16th. Drum Major Hailey Guerra attributes her team’s success to hard work and having fun. “Instead of having everything super-uniform, we do have fun with it and we let our passion come through.”

Together, the drumline and front ensemble make the percussive elements of the marching band. The drumline marches out on the field while the front ensemble stays at the front lines right behind the drum majors. On October 16th, the Apex Marching Band was awarded with both 3rd place percussion at Fuquay Varina, and 2nd place percussion at Western Alamance after performing a double header, an event where a band performs at two competitions on the same day. 

Kaitlyn Hazuka, front ensemble section leader, described that she believes their hard work and dedication is what’s behind winning these awards. “We had improved a lot since our first time in competition my sophomore year. And all of my group is really hard working and I know the drumline is too, so, just continuing to practice and stick with it.” Drum captain Ace Coffel added that the rigorous practices the percussionists experienced this season aided them as well. “We had a really good show. And a lot of hard work…drumline and percussion do kind of a little more, they have more practices. It wasn’t as much this year as in previous years but yeah, I’d say hard work.”

Both of these sections have their own individual practices separate from the rest of the band with Apex’s percussion specialists, Matt and Amy Savage. While Mrs. Savage worked with our front ensemble, Mr. Savage worked closely with the drumline throughout this season. Both taught the percussionists this year’s show music and helped them master and refine their technique. 

Mr. Savage details that during band camp, two weeks of rigorous training before the season officially starts, they teach the students 3-4 hours per day Monday through Friday. After camp, practices slow down and he notes that “Once school starts, we [Mr. and Mrs. Savage] are there for one rehearsal a week for 90 minutes to work on the musical aspects of the show.” Mr. Savage also credits the percussionists’ recent success to the student leaders, saying “The student leaders…did an amazing job not just leading but being valuable teachers and helpers to make sure everyone had the information they needed, helped with music and marching, and kept the group motivated and accountable.” Mr. Savage is notably proud of drumline and front ensemble’s achievements this season, but not just because of the trophies granted to them. He added “It’s not just about winning awards but about working hard as a group, reaching a high level of excellence and experiencing the self satisfaction of accomplishing your goals.”

While the drumline practiced alongside the rest of the marching band during typical practices, front ensemble practiced indoors, which caused some difficulties many wouldn’t normally consider.

“It was honestly really hard sometimes to feel that separated since we were inside most of the time.” Kaitlyn explained. “A lot of the band didn’t know who we were, or even that we had a front ensemble until we came outside.” She elaborated that since roughly half of the band hadn’t experienced a marching band competition before this season, many people didn’t know that the front ensemble even existed. “This year I tried to make sure we had exposure to other sections…to make sure that we were meeting different people outside of just our own section and weren’t isolated.” It’s evident that our percussionists’ dedication and ability to persevere despite hardships played a large role in their ability to place so high through their last competitions. 

When asked how they felt when they found out they had won these awards, Ace said that the percussionists were “very excited and happy, we were all jumping over each other with the trophy. It was a lot of fun.” Kaitlyn added, “It was really exciting to see all our hard work finally pay off- and the front ensemble and the drumline were going crazy because we finally won…it had been the last competition so, it was nice to finally win and close out on a positive note.”

Apex High’s marching band is ever-growing and ever-improving, and the accomplishments made throughout this season are a testament to the students’ hard work and dedication. 

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