By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN - The Dassel-Cokato Drumline has had an exciting season thus far, having taken on the hardest piece the veteran members have ever played and then placing among the highest in competitions.
In 1990, DC Drumline appeared in its first show on a small stage at St. Cloud State University. In 1991, it performed in its first competitive year, and in 1993, hosted its first show.
In the past 10 years, DC Drumline has been state champions in 1998-99, 2002-03, and 2006-07.
“This year, we’re going to try again,” said drumline advisor Brian Veith.
This year, there are 19 lines in class Scholastic A and Coon Rapids is the defending champion and the one to beat, according to Veith.
In Veith’s 10 years at DC, he has seen drumline transform from what used to be mainly drumming.
Now, drumline has become much more artistic, creative, and interpretive.
It’s more about telling a story, Veith said.
After seeing this year’s show, the audience would likely agree.
“At the Dawn of War” was a piece Head instructor Jade Warpeha played, himself, in college and is more advanced than any other presentation DC drumline has competed with.
Warpeha is in his third season at DC and is impressed the members took on the challenge to learn such a difficult piece.
At the beginning of the year, the drumline team rose to the challenge of producing an even more difficult and complex show than in past years.
Warpeha advised they would need to put in extra effort and the veterans would not only have to work hard themselves, but also help out the younger members, as well.
“I’m amazed with how far they have come already this year . . . they are far exceeding my expectations,” Warpeha said.
In the five shows DC has competed in this year, the team has placed either first or second.
‘At the Dawn of War’
This year’s presentation, “At the Dawn of War,” brings the audience into a medieval war scene.
In the beginning, or at the dawn of war, the preparation begins leading the audience into the battle that is to come.
During this scene, the music is soft. The battery, or the marchers, are without drums and are practicing Tai Chi preparing for what lies ahead.
Then, the music takes a turn with more of a driving force, as if they are marching into battle.
For visual effects, the floor is painted with a sword spread across it and different colors on each side of it. The drumline uniforms are also colorful, with black in the front and rust orange on the back.
The colors are to accent the marchers’ actions and to highlight solos for the audience.
Added into the mix are members producing a metallic sound, with chains also adding to the visual effect.
Then, the music is more random and sporadic to signify an actual battlefield with isolated attacks, Warpeha explained.
The music moves into more of a ballad reflecting on the sadness of war and the battle’s aftermath.
In the finale, the music becomes more difficult and fast-paced, he explained.
Marching to finals
Though he’s not much of a competitor, Warpeha is confident the team has a good chance of being in the top three at finals Saturday, April 4.
Before heading to the state competition, those who want to catch the show one last time can attend a send-off show at 9 a.m. that same day in the west gym of the high school.
“I know that the level of music we’re playing and the drive from the kids will put us at the top,” Warpeha said.
In the last three years, Warpeha has seen much improvement within the group especially in the pit, where the ability level has become very high, he explained.
“I’m amazed with how much each individual has improved over the years,” he said.
DC senior Bryant Beckermann is a six-year drumline veteran. He started in seventh grade in the auxiliary, which consists of a variety of percussion instruments and is where many early drumline participants get their feet wet.
This has been the most exciting and thrilling show for Bryant. He likes how musically challenging it is and how the crowd gets into it.
He also hopes they can do well at state.
Paul Beckermann, Bryant’s father, is most impressed with the high level of excellence that this program has demanded.
He likes to see how the coaches have challenged the drumline to a higher level, and how they’ve rose to the challenge.
The DC drumline staff includes Warpeha as head instructor, Tim Fisher as battery instructor, and Brian Veith as advisor.
Music from “At the Dawn of War” was arranged by Jade Warpeha and Justin Phillips. The drill was written by Joel Matuzak.