Students Show Off Percussion Skills

Staff Writer

Early on Saturday morning, percussionists at all levels of band in the St. Marys City School District made some noise in the commons area of the school while their families and community members got to enjoy fresh baked donuts.
Sixth through 12th-grade students performed percussion only pieces for the crowd, which allowed for parents to see what their children are capable of, but also allowed the younger students to see what could be possible if they work hard.
“I really wanted the younger kids in particular to hear what the older kids are doing and vice versa, to hear what’s possible,” said Percussion Instructor Dane Newlove. “For the seniors, they were sixth graders once and they were in the same boat these kids are in and now they’re playing really hard literature. It’s just an opportunity for everybody to hear what everyone else is doing.”
The commons area was filled for the families for the inaugural event, something Newlove and Band Director Craig French said they had been wanting to do for years. French came on as band director after Newlove retired, but French asked him to stay on as their percussion instructor. Since then he has been working with the percussion at all levels.
“We had a great crowd today for the first one,” Newlove said. “We just didn’t know what to expect but it was pretty awesome. I’m hoping this is something that is going to continue.”
“We said, ‘hey, we do so much work in here, wouldn’t it be great to just do a concert with only them,’” French said. “That’s where the idea came from.
“And it’s just very hard to cram into the end of the year with the schedule, and his personal schedule and my personal schedule, and so we really kind of prioritized this.”
He added that doing this during a regular concert would take too much time, not to mention what the percussion does is, “logistically very different and so it’s a better flow to do it here. And we chose to do it in a more informal setting here because I think it’s more fun,” French said.
“I’m just very happy with how the concert turned out today and I’m proud of the students,” Newlove said. “It was a good event.”
Showing off student’s skills wasn’t the only purpose of Saturday’s event. Before the last performance, French and Newlove addressed the crowd about a new, but brief, fundraiser they were starting to help spruce up some of the aging equipment.
The marching banddrums are getting up there in age, they said, but are still in good condition. Having been through a few years of football games they just need a little touch up.
That is why they are looking for donations to sponsor new gold and blue slips to cover the drums to give them a fresh look.
“There is nothing wrong with them, we don’t need new drums,” French said. “This is a less expensive way to slick up and make them look nice. And there’s a new stadium opening up next year and we thought it would be fun to do something, unveil a new look for the new stadium.”
They are looking to cover about 17 to 19 drums — snare, tenor and bass — and where they plan to order these sleeves from is having a sale now, which means time is limited to get them for an even more affordable price.
Fundraising efforts are going on now until May 22. The cost to sponsor one drum is $40.
For more information about sponsoring a drum, French can be reached by email at