Hi everyone, this is JD, director of DOA. Today I decided to share a bit of my own story on “Featured 15.” Percussion has always been a way for me to express myself, making a drum or marimba sing helps me say the things that I can’t verbalize.
As an early teen, I suffered through a horrible depression. It was brought on by some instability at home. To make matters worse, it seemed that I couldn’t express how I felt to friends or family without everyone taking it the wrong way. So I kept things to myself, and bottled up my emotions. This created even more problems.
Band class was the only reason I really got out of bed in the morning, the only thing I felt was worth living for at times. It was because I could put my emotions into the music. Once I realized that, I just started spending a lot of alone time with my practice kit and music books. This “alone time” eventually became my daily practice schedule. As my skills got better and better, so did life.
Percussion really helped save me from a dark place, and for that I am forever grateful. This is why I do what I do everyday now. I know there are more kids out there like me, waiting to find something worth living for. Music may be what saves them as well.
I already knew I wanted to play drums, but when I got to the 6th grade, my mom made me play alto saxophone instead. So I went with it for a while until drum line try outs came around. Then my band director helped me build the confidence to audition on snare drum. I didn’t make the line. I felt as if I was never going to touch a drum again.
I was crushed. I felt like I would never be that excited for an audition again, but somehow my parents and band director got me back into it. My band director did all he could for me, even getting the center snare to give me some lessons. It really helped me build more confidence. So I went to auditions again next year. I’m so happy they did because I made the line that year! And I aced everything they threw at me. Now I am captain of my drum line and getting ready to march drum corps.
I learned to not give up your dreams, because if I had given up then I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to be the leader I am today. Nor would I be a DCI tenor player in the upcoming season. So to everyone who got cut from their first auditions… DONT QUIT! because you can always come back next season like a boss! My life motto for musicianship: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
I was just a quiet person in school. I got bullied a lot by other kids because I was new and I didn’t know English very well. Everything started when I would stare at the drumline every single day at lunch. It was just a habit, because I was so amazed and interested. I didn’t really have the courage to talk to them because I was scared that I might get bullied, so I just kept admiring them.
One day, one of the snare players caught me staring and asked why I had been looking at them. I just told him that I was really amazed at what they were doing. He laughed and then introduce me to their line and their band director. They were all so nice. A week after that I met Mark, a sophomore on the line. That’s when I decided to join the band. Mark started teaching everything I needed to learn, like holding the sticks correctly and all the rudiments. Later, I ended up on the snare line with him.
I eventually got to know everyone in my band and they are absolutely awesome. Everyone is like my family now. Being with my band at every competition and football game is always memorable and fun. We have ups and downs, but we always make it. And they also bring out the best in me. I came out of my shell and became more sociable. It has been such a fun and amazing experience.
When I was in the 7th grade, I had just moved across the country and I wasn’t very good at reading music yet. One day, while playing a song, my teacher said “Kaitlyn, that was horrible. You’re never going to become a good snare drummer and you’re going to fail this test coming up if you play like that.” I almost started crying. After that, I felt so discouraged that I would only play mallets.
My freshmen year of high school I decided to do marching band. I tried out for bass drum and I didn’t make it. All my other friends who tried out, made it. I was in the front ensemble. I was told that I was good in the front, but that wasn’t where my heart was. For indoor drumline, I tried for bass drum again, and I didn’t make it, again. I was very mad that I didn’t make it and I thought I would never be on battery. I ended up playing in the front ensemble (marimba), but I didn’t like it.
Last January I decided I would work on my snare technique. I also decided to prepare for the upcoming marching season, auditioning on bass drum again. I tried out for bass and snare, and I got the snare spot! While marching band was fun, I was most nervous for indoor drumline. It was very competitive. I worked incredibly hard to get where I was. There were 5 open spots and 8 people trying out. I was the least experienced. I had to choose between front ensemble and battery. I could’ve easily made front ensemble, but I wouldn’t have liked it. I made a risky choice and tried out for battery. I made it! It’s so much fun and I’m the only girl in the upper battery.
My motivation was to prove to my middle school band teacher that I could become a good snare drummer. My older brother also played snare for marching band and I wanted to be just like him. I took that one negative in my life and turned it into something positive.
Before I was born, my dad was a professional drummer. He would travel a lot, playing different concerts and shows. He even played at the 1992 Grammy Awards with Mariah Carey! I really looked up to him. I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps, since I was a small child. This was how I initially took an interest in drums. Later on, I was able to watch the movie “Drumline
.” That was really where my path changed. I just fell in love with marching percussion.
Eventually my dad became very sick, always in and out of the hospital. It was extremely hard, but I wanted to make him proud. That’s when I decided to start playing myself. I joined band, and never looked back. I love my dad, he is my inspiration. He is why I play.