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What Is a University Drumline?

A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn

A university drumline is the percussion portion of a marching band. This set of musicians can play along with a marching band, or on their own. A university drumline is also sometimes referred to as the school’s percussion ensemble. The drumline provides percussion and rhythm for many different kinds of school events, including sports games and different types of promotional assemblies.

Typically, a university drumline includes a full spectrum of percussion instruments. At one end of the range of instruments is the big bass drum. Many of the based drums used in a university drumline are engineered to be even louder and bigger than the conventional bass drums in a drum set or kit. Some of these require multiple people to move, where coordinating this personnel issue is a major part of leading and coaching the drumline. Along with these larger instruments, drumlines also commonly include lighter percussion instruments like cymbals and snares.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Although some might think of a university drumline as an informal group, in many cases, these groups actually have rigorous participation standards. Individuals may be asked to audition for a drumline. They may also need to review a variety of materials to be informed about what kind of work they are expected to do as a part of this musical team.

Managers of a university’s drumline might ask applying individuals to study a repertoire or set of materials to learn about what specific pieces of music the drumline usually performs. In addition, the applicants may also need to read up on percussion history and techniques. They may be asked to present themselves as competent in public relations or public presentation.

In addition to social skills and percussion theory, applicants to the drumline may be asked about physical abilities. These members need to be fit enough to keep up with the pace and rhythm of the drumline as they move around a field or other space. For some musicians, there are additional physical requirements related to moving heavy instruments along with them throughout the performance.

Typically, a drumline is funded along with a marching band or under the general departmental budget of a music department. The drumline members may engage in some fundraising efforts directed at securing funding for the department and its activities. A university drumline is a part of the school’s music department that often evokes “school spirit” through university branding in performances and outreach efforts.

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