The members of Saint Vincent’s March of the Bearcats Drumline recently created a new club centered around the position. Although the March of the Bearcats Marching Band has been a student-run club since 2008 and was granted class status in 2014, the drumline has functioned as a section of the band until the club’s institution.
Justina Whipkey, sophomore engineering science major and drumline member, says that the focus of the new club is to showcase the percussive talent present here at Saint Vincent College while also welcoming students to try something new.
“Those involved are looking to become better rounded musicians and performers,” she said.
Whipkey is in the marching band, pep band, and the new indoor drumline, and plays snare drum. She is also involved in Saint Vincent College’s new Leadership in Music class which she believes has broadened her skills as a musician.
“I feel [the new club] will bring more interest in the music department because its more focused on rhythm and drums,” she said. “I feel a lot more people can relate to percussion instruments than wind instruments because we have an inert instinct to feel a pulse and hit stuff.”
Whipkey says she felt a little nervous when the club was started due to its status of being a new group. Now, however, she is confident that they have the ground work for a successful program.
“Right now, we perform at the half-time shows for the men and women’s basketball games, but we hope to enter winter indoor competitions in the years to come,” Whipkey said.
According to Whipkey, no matter what any person’s musical background is, the drumline would love to have more people try it out.
“We’re a really laid back group of students and none of us are music majors, so there’s no pressure to be perfect,” she said. “We meet once a week, so it’s not as demanding as other clubs and it’s a great way to get involved in music.”
Graham Merlin, freshman biology major and member of the drumline, says the club was suggested by himself and another member of the drumline to Randy Kratofil, the marching band director.
“He has a wide experience in leading similar groups,” Merlin said.
According to Merlin, Kratofil agreed without hesitation and after organizing the show, the drumline held tryouts back in the fall.
Merlin admits that so far, he has been blown away by the progress the group has made in the limited practice time they have had and is excited to see what they can accomplish in the future. Merlin is also involved in the marching band, concert band and jazz band as a percussionist.
Merlin thinks that Saint Vincent’s music program has been somewhat limited in the past and he welcomes any new music related opportunity.
“We’re finally seeing some growth in the different bands here which will certainly make the school much more attractive to potential students who would like to continue their involvement in music into college,” Merlin said.
Merlin is eager to see what they will be able to put together in the future, since they will not have to spend as much time learning the basic things for the first time.
“It would also be great to see this band raise interest and even awareness of band on campus,” he said. “We only have about half of the parts filled currently, so hopefully now that people know about indoor drumline we’ll see more people try out next season.”
Photo: Saint Vincent College "March of the Bearcats" Facebook