Double Dribble percussion ensemble performs on the court and at contest
By Heather Jordan
MELLETTE – Members of the Northwestern band pulled double duty at the Webster home game on February 6th as percussionists with a basketball.
In preparation for the Small Group Region IV music contest on February 7th, band director Wendy Thorson challenged her students with a creative twist in the rhythm section by using bouncing basketballs to pound out a beat at center court.
The idea originated out of necessity as Thorson has a combined classroom with both chorus and band held simultaneously. “I have to split the music period with chorus, and needed something to keep the band-only kids busy for the rest of the music period while the rest of the kids went to chorus,” explained Thorson.
Creative use of percussion is not a novelty at Northwestern as Thorson focuses on featuring an interesting piece each year for contest. “I usually do a unique piece every year for small group music contest,” added Thorson. “Last year I had the entire band play a song on chairs using drumsticks. I found this year’s idea online on a percussion website.”
Freshman Jace Haven served as the “coach” for the ensemble. “They did use actual music for it,” added Thorson. “I did direct it, but Jace Haven was our student coach.”
Recruiting both basketball players who were band students proved to be a successful approach. “Not all were members of the basketball teams, but most were,” added Thorson. Members of the athletic ensemble were: Evy Peterson, Tally Sparling, Zech Clemens, Miranda Thorson, Alexis Rahm, Hayden Bohl, Caitlyn Fischbach, Cassidy Frericks, Dalton Peterson, Hannah Schentzel, Joclyn Haven, Hailey Boekelheide, Riley Grandpre, Caleb Schentzel, Jace Haven, and Tya Wiedeman. Nearly every member of the group has a connection to basketball either as a player or statistician.
Not only did the ensemble perform their piece at halftime of the girls’ varsity basketball game vs. Webster, but they also earned a superior rating at small group contest the next day. “The kids had to work really hard on it because the music was not written as typical musical notation,” added Thorson. “There aren’t specific notes for bouncing a ball!”