Banks High drum line keeps the percussion going

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: CHASE ALLGOOD - Students in the Banks High School drum line take direction from student leader Brian Lacock (middle, on snare drum). The student-run organization practices several times a week and will compete at three indoor percussion circuit events this winter.Anyone walking past the band room at Banks High School on Monday and Thursday afternoons might just think class is still in session.

In fact, there is. But the teacher is a student.

Senior Brian Lacock expertly leads the school's percussion ensemble — also known as a drum line — through warm-ups and rehearsal.

Lacock is on old pro at this. He's been leading the drum line since his junior year, when he stepped up to keep the ensemble intact despite school district belt-tightening in 2011-12 that cut the music teacher to half-time at the high school.

A member of the school's drum line since he was in junior high, Lacock took the helm last year and the group played for various sporting events and in the Banks homecoming parade.

This school year, Lacock wanted to take things up a notch.

He recruited his drum line members to practice twice a week for several hours after school, learn three pieces of music he transposed and arranged himself, and take their show on the road to compete at the Northwest Association of Performing Artists' indoor winter percussion circuit.

On Saturday, the 14-member group will take part in its second competition of the season at Hillsboro's Glencoe High School through NWAPA.Banks High School senior Brian Lacock leads the 14-member drum line.

High school drum lines from all over the Pacific Northwest compete at different levels during the winter months at NWAPA events. Banks competes in the Scholastic Concert A division, for ensembles who play, but don't move around the gym floor (much like a full marching band moves around a football field).

"I didn't realize how unusual it was (for a student to lead a group) until we were at our first competition," said parent Rae Weaver, who has a son in the drum line. Sophomore Ryan Weaver plays the trumpet, but joined the drum line "as much for the camaraderie as for the music," according to Rae Weaver. Ryan plays bass 5 — the biggest of the big drums.

“That group of kids work so well together," Rae Weaver said. "They take a lot of pride that it’s student-led.”

For Lacock, it's about the drumming and the fun.

He joined the group in junior high and welcomes several junior high schoolers into his group. "My main goal is to see marked improvement in competition over the year," Lacock said.

He has arranged a show called "Resurrection," including "Highway to Hell" and "Back in Black" by AC/DC and "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr.

As expected, it's loud ... and louder ... and the students have fun.

"If this keeps up, I going to have to get you a metronome," Lacock joked with a fellow drummer after the third try at starting one song at the right tempo.

The tall, self-assured Lacock, the lone snare drum player in the group, moves about the band room helping his classmates read some new music. He's quick to credit dedicated parents who help the students get themselves and all their equipment to competitions. They'll often haul along a generator or two for plugging in speakers and other electrical gear. One parent brings a motor home.

The students spend a full day at Saturday competitions, practicing long hours for their two rounds of four-minute performances.

"The kids have a big heart for music," Weaver noted. "I'm really impressed by what they are doing."

As for Lacock, his musical interests range far and wide. When he's not writing a heavy metal show for the drum line, he's practicing with Pacific University's Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra's director, Dr. Bryce Selinger, asked Lacock to join the group after hearing him audition for a music scholarship earlier this year.

His future plans include attending Pacific and majoring in physics. He'll minor in music.

The drum line's final competition of the year is the NWAPA Percussion Championships on April 13 at Sherwood High School.

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