Drumroll, please: Indoor percussion snares semifinals spot at virtual competition
Dartmouth High School’s gym — home to sports victories and defeats, and even the last town-run Covid vaccine clinics — rang out on Sunday afternoon to rolling drums and crashing cymbals.
The winter indoor percussion season is in full swing, and Dartmouth’s world-class group has already made it to the semifinals to compete against six other schools in their division from across the US.
“These kids look like professionals,” noted percussion instructor and Assistant Band Director Tom Aungst. “They’re highly motivated — that’s the most impressive thing.”
Although the band normally travels to compete before massive audiences in stadiums all over the country, this year everything is a little bit different, with tournaments held virtually.
The percussion ensemble tapes their performances to send to competitions at the national and international level in three different circuits, including one based in the Netherlands.
So far they’ve made it to the semifinals of the Winter Guard International competition.
On March 7, the kids were taping a performance of “The Web,” a spider- and technology-filled show with sparkly costumes and glimmering lights, for a US Bands competition that sees more than 500 ensembles competing across 20 states.
Show Coordinator Darcie Aungst explained the theme as a double entendre.
“I just thought it would be cool, that play on the web — it’s the interweb, and also a spider’s web. You get kind of stuck to both,” she noted. “Like getting addicted to your phones...It’s very relevant now, I think.”
Aside from the empty stands, Tom said that not much else has changed.
“Basically, we’re doing exactly what we normally would do,” he said. “Except we’re not performing in person, and we're not going anywhere. Everything is virtual.”
Students all wear masks and maintain social distancing during practices and performances, and they seem to have adapted well to safety precautions and other Covid-related issues.
“It’s going better than I thought it would,” said the percussion instructor. “We’ve had kids in and out because of Covid, but we just kept going. Kept focused.”
“We’re getting better each week,” he added. “It’s a good group. Really talented!”
Results from the semifinal rounds are expected by April 10, when the group will learn if it has moved on to the finals.