Behind the scenes with DHS Indoor Percussion

Behind the scenes with DHS Indoor Percussion

On any given day from November to April, when the bell rings at 2:03, the halls of DHS quickly begin to fill with music. Students in the hallways and classrooms practice on marimbas and drum sets that have appeared seemingly from thin air, leaving many of us wondering: who are these musicians?

They are members of the DHS Indoor Percussion Ensemble, and on April 12 they took home the gold from the WGI Percussion World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.

Indoor percussion blends music performance, marching band, and theatre into a single unique art form. The ensemble, made up of the drumline, the pit, and the dancers, utilizes a variety of percussion instruments, including snares, keyboards, bass drums, vibraphones, and xylophones. Each year they present a show with a different theme: past years’ themes have included the sirens of The Odyssey, post-apocalyptic birds, and a retelling of the legend of Prometheus.

This year’s theme revolved around the life and downfall of the French queen Marie Antoinette. The show started off seeming to be an accurate portrayal of an 18th century court, with each performer outfitted in traditional garb. But the music shifted from classical to contemporary when Marie Antoinette, played by senior Chelsea Correia, made her glamorous entrance.

“The drumline, the front ensemble, and the dance team all work together to make the show believable,” said senior Sarah Southerland. “It was great the way the instructors were able to mix the classical Beethoven coming from the marimbas, vibraphones, xylophone, and the rest of the front ensemble with the more modern Lorde and Lady GaGa from the electronics.”

Correia took on the role of the ill-fated protagonist. “It was definitely the biggest challenge I ever had to face, but it was so rewarding,” said Correia. “And the amount of work the other girls put in was unbelievable. I may be the main character, but the show would have absolutely fallen apart without them.”

When the members of the percussion ensemble are at DHS, they’re our peers. But when they are at a competition, they’re practically famous. “It was a life changing experience, being able to have people from all over come up to you and say how much they idolize us,” said Correia.

YouTube videos of the ensemble have garnered thousands of views, including a documentary about the group that has over 14,000 hits.

This celebrity status, however, has not come without its fair share of hard work: “We take our practices very seriously,” said Correia. “We go set by set through the entire show, again and again and again. It can get pretty stressful and exhausting, but it’s cool how much we all push each other.” On top of rehearsing almost every day, they compete nearly every weekend against groups from all over the region.

The entire season culminates at the Winter Guard International (WGI) World Championships in Dayton. Percussion ensembles from across the country and the world present their shows and compete in various categories, with DHS competing in the Scholastic World division.

The stakes for this year’s championships were particularly high. After having not won the world championship trophy since 2009, the group was yearning for the big win. So when it came down to the final performance, everyone made sure to perform full out.

“Finishing off with a flawless show was something we had worked for all season, but finally coming together like we did in the end was incredible,” said senior Courtni Carter. “There was not one person not in tears getting off the floor.”

And the audience reacted in an equally thrilled way. “It was surreal to see the 13,500 people in the audience rise out of their seats and scream for us,” said Southerland.

In the end, all of the ensemble’s hard work had paid off. DHS Indoor Percussion scored a 98.238, one of the highest scores in WGI history, winning them gold.

“We all just knew that, in that moment, all of the blood, sweat, and tears that we put into rehearsals was all worth it,” said senior Kenzie Moniz. “Hearing our score and our name called for first place at WGI was seriously just the cherry on top to an absolutely amazing and unforgettable season.”

But any member of the ensemble will tell you that it’s not the trophies, accolades, or applause that gives the indoor percussion its significance. “Indoor percussion has taught me more about myself than I ever would have been able to find out on my own,” said Moniz. “Working with this group of people for the past four years has been an absolute honor and a privilege. I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish this year.”

The victory of the DHS indoor percussion ensemble shows that with dedication, determination, and teamwork, anything is possible. Though indoor percussion is a sport of the arts rather than a sport of athletics, they are a team that all other groups at DHS should aspire to emulate.