NEW MADRID - Boom. Boom. Boom.
Rap. Tappity-tap. Rap. Rap.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Almost a year in the making, the group is mastering the basics of drumming, dancing and marching. And more importantly said Darren Robinson, one of the organizers, they are mastering the art of teamwork.
"We are trying to give the kids something to get involved with in the community, something to do," said Robinson. "But it is more than how to play drums. It is also trying to instill discipline in them, to teach them to be a team - a drumline with one heartbeat."
Made up primarily of youngsters ages 10 to 17 years old, Robinson explained he and Charles Moore, both New Madrid residents, ask a lot of their young participants. The young people are expected to work hard and practice during Southeast Missouri's sweltering summer days.
Some didn't make it. The drumline has watched members join and leave over the first 11 months. Robinson estimated about a dozen now make up the core of the organization while others, including from surrounding towns, are showing interest.
Finding the youngsters to take part is easy. Putting together the assorted percussion instruments was the hard part.
Moore and Robinson began combing the area music stores, flea markets and pawn shops looking for the equipment.
"It is all out of our pockets. We buy a drum at a time," said Robinson.
Thus far, they have accumulated 27 drums and two pairs of cymbals. And the men have painted and welded, patched and repaired to give all the equipment the best shine possible.
Moore, who was a drummer in high school and even was offered college scholarships to continue in the field, is the man with the whistle leading the drumline. "This was something I loved and that I could teach to the younger kids," said Moore.
So far their performances include some 16 cadences and nine routines. In addition to the percussionists they have made their own flags for a flag corps and have a group that dances along with the drumline.
Moore praises the young people for catching on to the rhythms and routines quickly.
While many of the cadences they perform are his, Moore points out the group has made them their own. The youngsters have even come up with their own music and ideas. "We will try it and if it works we will keep it - it is a team effort," he said.
Thomas Wrather, who plays the quads, or four small drums, has worked to master and create the cadences the group uses. "I'm into it now," he said about the drumline. "This is something I would like to stick with."
Wrather and Darren Robinson, another of the core players, work with the newcomers, teaching them routines.
Robinson lets them know it isn't as easy as it looks. He points out they have to stand at attention and keep a good attitude. "But it is fun being around the other kids and we have fun," he added.
In addition to their music, some of the group went to Kansas City to watch other drumlines in action; they have had picnics and will gather around after practice sharing softdrinks and conversation.
Jeremy Brooks was playing basketball in the park the first time he saw the drumline. Now, he is behind the bass drum. "When you've got to carry the drum, it can get pretty hot," he acknowledged but then headed back to the line for practice.
It is this kind of dedication that keeps the group's founders working. "The kids love it and I love it," said Moore about the drumming. In fact, he said, they have even knocked on his door wanting to know when they will practice next.
The men are looking for more support from the community. The local elementary school principal lets the group use the gymnasium and they received encouragement from the City Council when they informed them of their efforts.
But what Moore and Robinson are really in hopes of finding is some funding. With at least two upcoming parades they want to be able to present their still unnamed drumline as sharp-looking as possible and would like to be able to buy T-shirts for the participants.
After all, summed up Robinson, this is something the youngsters are doing for their community. "And the community should get behind the kids because they are our future."
Boom. Boom. Crash.
For more information about the drumline contact Robinson at 748-5483 or 573-521-8182.