RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. — The Russellville High School drumline made school history Oct. 7.
They earned Russellville's first-ever "best percussion award" at the 49th annual Washington Marching Festival. And the percussion contributed to the marching band's first time to place in a competition, winning second.
Last year was the first year for Band Director Nathan Gargus to organize a true drumline for the school band program. With middle school numbers eclipsing the current high school participation, the program likely will continue to grow in size and success.
"A drumline has more responsibility than the average band member," Gargus said. "They have a separate warm-up routine; they memorize double the music.
"(And) they don't get a break for the entire parade."
Sophomore Taylor Crossman said playing percussion during the parades can be intimidating.
"If you mess up, everybody is going to hear you," agreed freshman Nolan Schroer.
Although drummers' arms, as well as their feet, are tired by the end of a parade, the percussionists agreed it is fun to be part of.
A key component in the growing success of the Russellville drumline and band program is Gargus. In his third year teaching, all at Russellville, Gargus performed with two nationally-competitive independent drumlines.
From November through April, he was traveling every weekend from Warrensburg, as a student at the University of Central Missouri, to Indianapolis, Indiana, to rehearse with the Legacy Indoor Percussion.
"When you are dedicated to your craft and know that it will benefit kids in the future (and my time there has), it makes it all worth it, plus it is an awesome performance experience," he said.
The drumline will mark time for the band in three competitions and one Christmas parade this season.
With the school's recent announcement of a future football program, the drumline and band may see even more activity in coming years.
But the five-man drumline is working with aging equipment. Some pieces have been repaired and replaced to their limits.
By the time high school football arrives, many of the percussion pieces will be more than 20 years old, Gargus said.
And with the larger numbers in middle school, Gargus said he is unsure the program will have enough drums for all the high school percussion members in two years.
That's when he expects the band's size to double.
"I have 28 eighth graders and two seniors," he said. "It's a great problem to have."
In addition to having reliable instruments for all of the drumline, Gargus said he is concerned that he won't have enough uniforms, also nearly 20 years old.
The band boosters host fundraisers, including a hog raffle, working the concession stand and the new craft fair in November.
"We will ultimately fund the new drum line," Gargus said. "We hope to be there when football time rolls around."