WB High School winter drumline focuses on future, plans

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 30, 2013

 West Bloomfield High School winter drumline member 11th-grade student Kiersten Wilde practices during an April 15 rehearsal at Abbott Middle School.

West Bloomfield High School winter drumline member 11th-grade student Kiersten Wilde practices during an April 15 rehearsal at Abbott Middle School.

Photo by Donna Agusti


WEST BLOOMFIELD — The West Bloomfield High School winter drumline competed in the Winter Guard International World Championships April 18 in Dayton, Ohio, and although they were not selected in the final round, the 28-member band played their hearts out, their percussion director said.

“When you look at where we were when we started, compared to where we are now, it’s night and day,” West Bloomfield High School percussion director Pat McLaughlin said.

“I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish this year, and I am excited to continue pushing the envelope with the group again next year.”

The band will take a break before starting up for auditions for the fall marching band season.  Once new band members are selected, they will rehearse toward the end of July. 

WGI is a nonprofit organization that produces indoor color guard and percussion ensemble competitions. There were more than 36,000 participants at the regional level, and more than 11,000 participants at the Sport of the Arts World Championships in April, according to their website, www.wgi.org.

During the school year, the drumline faced a few challenges. Only three of the 28 members played the same instruments they played in 2012, and many of the members hailed from different grade levels — including new eighth-graders and freshmen. The program also brought in new staff members, McLaughlin said in an email.

“It was a challenge, but certainly one that we were ready to take on and overcome,” he said. “We quickly established our goals with the ensemble and started working towards them day after day.”

The drumline played in stride and earned second place at state finals in the Michigan Color Guard Circuit Sate Championships at Saginaw Valley State University April 7, which McLaughlin described as a “huge accomplishment.”

Following the state finals performance, the drumline practiced and traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to compete, where they had “their best performance of the year in preliminaries,” McLaughlin said.

“There’s no doubt that we will continue to embody excellence and be competitive on a global level for many years to come,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re just getting warmed up.”

McLaughlin said that, at the end of the day, it is not about the win, but the students’ futures.

“We place a lot of emphasis on creating productive habits and embodying excellence,” he said, “because whether they decide to be artists, doctors, mechanics, teachers, reporters or designers, I want them to have the skills necessary to be the best in the world at it. 

“Drumline is simply the vehicle we use to teach those skills.”

West Bloomfield High School senior Emma Trivax said competitions are “amazing experiences.”

“Drumline is a passion for me,” she said, “so, going to these big world-competitions and seeing these other drumlines broadens my whole view on the sport itself and makes me love it even more.

“There are so many different groups, from Canada, Japan and France, and putting us against those groups gives us a check on where we are at.”