Beat of his heart: Drumline captain shares experiences

Brooke Combs, Staff Writer

His passion for band began in the sixth grade. But after attending football games during middle school, he realized his true calling was drumline. Freshman year at Vines, senior James Darling tried out for drumline and made it.

“It was a smaller drumline than Jasper’s,” Darling said. “We all got really close. We were all working towards the same goal and spent a lot of time together.”

Junior year he tried out for snare drum and got it. More was expected of the percussionists now.

“It was a weird adjustment because they expected you to play differently and get things quicker,” Darling said. “It took a lot of extra practicing to get things down.”

For the second time Darling tried out for a spot and got it – this time, captain of drumline. There was no real audition for the position. The audition was basically their performance the past year or years in drumline. All Darling had to do was write an essay about what keeping up with the tradition of success at Plano meant to him.

“It’s a lot of stress being captain but it’s very rewarding,” Darling said. “Everybody comes to you with their problems, like when they get frustrated when they’re not playing well enough or if something isn’t going as well and you’re expected to solve everything. But when something hits you can take pride in the fact that you helped that happen.”

Besides taking care of his team, his responsibilities included tapping off the exercises and warm-ups. He had to illustrate good leadership. But in addition to being captain, he had to manage being in band as well.

“I practice band three days a week, and two days a week in drumline,” Darling said. “Band requires three different shows for us to learn and the drumline show is a hard show itself. We have to learn a lot of music very quickly.”

The people Darling associates with and works with to create a well-developed drumline are also his best friends.

“The friends are usually the best part,” Darling said. “The music is amazing and just actually playing drums is fun, but the people you get close to through all the hard work is like no other experience.”

Although drumline gets to participate in the Friday night football games they also get a separate show with just themselves as the drumline, called drumline competition. Darling said these shows are important and crucial to drumline’s representation.

“The football games are fun and a part of the vibe,” Darling said. “But the competitions are when we really get to shine. It’s when we get to play our harder music and get respect from other drumlines.”

The day before a big competition, Darling usually takes a break from practicing unless he desperately needs to work on a certain part he has not gotten down. The competitions help the drumline members stand out for their hard work and talent.

“Walking out in front of all those fans was quite amazing,” Darling said. “It’s breath-taking to know that you’re impacting that many people when you play.”

Since the drumline competition was held here, the full drumline was not eligible to compete. But the Baseline Ensemble received first place in their competition. The drumline’s next competition is on November 5th at Marcus High School.