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Othello High drumline competes

Staff Writer | March 28, 2023 8:38 PM

OTHELLO — The Othello High School drumline isn’t an easy gig. Freshman Martin Marroquin admitted he thought it over for a while before joining.

“A friend of mine (said), ‘Hey, you should do drumline.’ And I said, ‘No, I kind of don’t want to do drumline,’” Marroquin said.

Drumline is part of the music program, but it’s a little like a sport - early-morning practices, lots of intensity. Marroquin said he had to think about it, but his ultimate decision to join the drumline turned out to be the right call.

“I really didn’t know what it was all about until I got here,” he said. “And then I found out we get to do all this. That’s what kept me in it. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.”

The OHS drumline finished eighth in the scholastic category at the Winter Guard International competition last weekend in Portland, scoring 66.3 points.

The drumline program tells a story, one that requires a series of intricate moves, a lot of weaving among drummers and cymbalists. Junior Cain Muro said it’s been in the works all year.

“We started thinking about this idea right after we finished our last Portland show (in 2022),” he said.

“On the bus,” said junior Rachael Bates.

“Yeah, on the bus ride back,” Muro said. “It’ll probably be the same this year, too - we’ll probably start thinking about next year. Probably before we go.”

“We were on the bus, thinking, ‘You know, sports themes, this theme, that theme,’” said OHS band and drumline instructor Will Lutey. “And then we came up with a volcano. ‘What if we had a volcano that erupts at the end of the show?’ Hence all the details start.”

Lutey said as a music teacher he wants to present his musicians with a challenge.

“How much of an education are students going to get if you repeat the same thing every year?” he said. “You want to keep it fresh, you want to keep it relevant. The goal is to get better every year, address your skills.”

Lutey worked with John Owens, music instructor at Big Bend Community College, to come up with a script.

“This year I’ve got a really, really strong tenor section, so when he wrote the show, he wrote it where the tenor parts are a little bit harder than the rest of the drumline,” he said. “It all depends on what your strengths and weaknesses are.”

Bates is the drum major for the OHS marching band, with experience in getting the proper look and sound, and said the key to getting the right presentation is being in position, and knowing where everybody else is.

“It takes a lot of dedication,” she said. “You have to be really aware of your surroundings and know not only where you are, but where other people are. Because if you don’t have your spacing right it’s going to look wrong, and you can kind of tell, if you look around you, what your spacing is like. You just have to be aware.”

“Learning it is the difficult part,” Muro said. “Once you know it, it’s a lot of endurance.”

Getting the spacing wrong can lead to consequences - Muro said drumline members ran into each other when they first started practicing.

“The end of our third section is a lot of interweaving,” he said. “When we couldn’t get it right when we first started learning it, I backed into one of the snares and rolled my ankle.”

Lutey said he started the drumline program six years ago.

“I started the class with six kids, and it’s grown into what you see today,” he said. “I have 25 on a regular basis in class every day and we (took) 45 to Portland.”

Lutey said he does accept middle school students, so they have an idea of what will be expected when they get to high school. Most of the students in the drumline are involved in other performance groups.

“It takes a commitment. They have to audition to get in,” he said. “We’re expected to learn all of our stuff, all of the pep band stuff, and all of the show stuff, sometimes simultaneously. We were still working on the show while we were doing state basketball,” he said. “They have to wear many different hats. So they’re always constantly busy doing stuff, whatever is required.”

It might be demanding, but the drumline crew looks forward to it.

“This is the best part of the day,” Muro said. “The last couple of reps are the most fun because you’re just that much closer.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at



Cymbalists keep the beat for the Othello High School drumline.



Bass and tenor drummers work out the spacing for the Othello High School drumline program prior to last weekend’s performance.



Othello High School drumline guitarist Martin Marroquin during practice.



The Othello High School drumline practices their moves.