Published on Thursday, April 20, 2017 by Lucy Raleigh
Keeping in-step with complicated choreography, telling the story of the performance through facial expressions, and keeping the beat with big drums, simultaneously can be a challenge. Members of Viking Indoor Percussion manage the challenges that come with the production with vigor and determination evidenced by their first place finish at the Texas Color Guard Circuit earlier this year.
While many members of VIP come into the program with experience as percussionists, some enter willing to learn something new.
“If students are willing to take the challenge and start from the ground and work their way up, then I’m willing to let them try,” VIP director Zane Taylor said. “As a result, we’ve had people that have literally never held a drumstick before play as well or better than any high school percussionist that I’ve ever seen.”
Though the task of learning a new instrument might seem like a huge challenge, students who are driven find the transition enjoyable.
“The challenge makes Indoor more fun when you get to learn new instruments,” freshman Brandon Garza said. “Actually getting to challenge yourself like that is more fun.”
Some of the most experienced members of VIP gained their footing through the program, allowing them to exponentially increase their expertise.
“I’ve been in VIP since 8th grade,” junior Ronald Busby said. “Mr. Taylor explained that it was a good way for younger players to grow and I thought that was a cool opportunity. I joined band in 7th grade, so I felt like I was already one step behind and I thought with VIP, I could put myself out there and develop a set of new skills.”
VIP members are able to apply their skills to the marching band season, indoor season, and beyond to become stronger musicians.
“I think the experiences go beyond marching band,” Taylor said. “In general, members have become much more confident musicians and they gain a greater technical proficiency with their instruments.”
Due to the short season, VIP members are forced to be quick on their feet and master their music and routines for competition.
“You have to learn music so quickly, in such a short amount of time, that your skills as a musician grow enormously,” junior Hunter Hoelscher said. “Since you’re so pressed for time, your technique, breathing, and everything as a musician grows. You even grow as a person because you learn to handle all of that stuff.”
While the experiences presented by VIP can help members grow on and off the floor, the more physical activities can also make the season challenging.
“Getting used to moving around with something attached to you is a challenge in and of itself,” Ronald said. “I wear a snare drum which is an extra 20 pounds. That’s something you need to have to train your body to adapt to.”
Physicality is not the only demand of VIP, but members have to dig deep to convey their story to spectators.
“Indoor is much more physical than marching band and it’s typically more demanding in a musical sense with faster tempos and more expression,” Taylor said. “In a normal concert setting, it’s a matter of getting the full ensemble to produce an oral picture for the audience, but for Indoor it has to be both visual and oral. Members have to do what we call communicating with the people at the top of the bleachers.”
Apart from the physical demands of VIP, members experience mental obstacles that help them to gain skills as musicians.
“Mental endurance is probably the number one obstacle,” Ronald said. “When something is new to you, it’s fun and fresh, it’s easy to be passionate about it. By the end of the season, the show is still the same show but you have to perform it like it’s brand new to you.”
The obstacles presented by VIP help members to better understand their art while sharpening their skill and giving their best performance on the floor.
“Indoor gives you a much clearer perspective musically and visually and those are the two major aspects of any of the marching arts that we do,” Taylor said. “Clarity is very important because what you’re playing needs to be reflected in what you’re actually showing the audience through the drill and what we call bodywork which is almost like dancing.”
Because of the extensive time and effort spent together, members of VIP have formed strong, family-like friendships.
“What I like most of all is that I get to be with my friends,” senior Samantha Hedstrom said. “It’s like being in a band family but it’s smaller, so everyone is closer to one another.”