Certain Bonita Students Rock to a Different Drummer: Drumline Performs Like True Champions

April 27, 2009
Share this story:
Brittany Redd psyches up for drumline performance.

Brittany Redd psyches up for drumline performance.

Bonita High School already has one of Southern California’s largest drumlines, but if the secret ever gets out about just how much fun this season’s 27 students are having under the direction of Mike Inzunsa, the Bonita boosters better start raising money now for what could be an overflow number of kids trying to get into next year’s program.

What teenager, after all, wouldn’t love the chance to bang, bop, beat, batter and hammer exotic instruments like vibraphones, xylophones and marimbas and whip the crowd into a delirious rock ‘n’ roll frenzy.

On Sunday, Bonita’s drumliners performed “Dream Weaver,” a five-song, seven-minute high-energy set in the drum line “A” division championships in Corona, Calif. Although their performance narrowly missed taking home the championship, Bonita walked away a huge winner nonetheless. Until its final performance, Bonita had never been invited to participate in the elite “A” level competition, and when they got their shot, they didn’t disappoint.

“The kids did awesome today,” said Kathryn Le Veque, President of Bonita’s Instrumental Music Program. “They came in second in their Division “A” Silver category out of a total of nine drumlines. It was a very close score between first and second. We scored 85.60, and I believe the first place drumline scored just a fraction of a point higher, so it was very competitive.”

Bonita drumline came dressed and ready to wow the house.

Bonita drumline came dressed and ready to wow the house.

How Bonita’ drumline rose to compete at the highest levels of competition was one of the season’s most compelling stories.

 “We did so well in our last two competitions,” added Le Veque, “that the American Drumline Association judges bumped us to division “A.” That was phenomenal because that’s where the really fantastic drum lines perform.”

The switch to the “A” division was more than a move, it was a leap. That’s because there are three different levels in the “A” division, bronze (the lowest), silver and gold, and Bonita was catapulted into the silver level.

“I think Bonita is finally getting recognized for all the hard work it’s been putting in,” said Bonita Band Director Jeff Bird. As for just missing the top spot in the Silver “A” division, Bird was philosophical. “It was unfortunate that the move to the “A” division happened so late in the season that we weren’t able to improve our position for the championships,” he said, “but you take the bad with the good. And in our case there was a lot of good.”

Bonita drumline members uphold trophy and tradition of performing well in major competitions.

Bonita drumline members uphold trophy and tradition of performing well in major competitions.

Since late January, the Bonita drumline put in hours of practice, rehearsing for their big moment, adding layer upon layer of songs until their repertoire was complete and polished. On the eve of their performance, the drumline practiced eight hours in the Bonita gym. Instead of tapering off before their final performance in Corona, the drumline only ratcheted up the intensity.

“Mike decides when and how much,” Bird explained. “He has 12 years more experience at this than I do. He’s got championships. He knows the way to do it. I’m not going to interfere with that kind of success.”

Mike can push his players because they flat-out love performing. “I just wake up with a smile on my face, thinking, ‘I get to perform today,’” said 9th grade drumline member Brittany Redd. I’m just blown away by the whole experience. It’s fun and worth every minute of practice that we put into it.”

drum9Before performing, members of the drumline pit crew (similar to an orchestral pit crew, but you won’t see a violin or viola in sight), form a tight-knit circle. “We do this little handshake, and we pray to the pit gods and ask them for help,” she said.

Matt Acevedo, Jr., one of the drum line’s cymbalists, also tried to describe the emotional high he and his fellow performers feel at competition time. “I’m so psyched,” he said. “It’s such a blast. I feel like we’re entertainers. Even if we don’t win, as long as we can make the crowd enjoy what we do … as long as we connect with them, then I feel that we did our jobs.”

In a way, the audience wasn’t treated to just 27 Bonita performers. Many in the drumline corps play multiple instruments. Acevedo, an aspiring music teacher, for instance, was playing cymbals during the competition, but he also plays clarinet and base guitar in a rock band, not to mention, he’s a section leader in the school’s concert band and is learning to play trombone. Lindsey Kunisaki was playing an instrument called the keytar (part keyboard and guitar) during the drumline performance, but also plays the piano. Le Veque added there were several musical prodigies in the group, including one student who can play 10 different instruments.

Although the drumline played only seven minutes, their performance was a culmination of an amazing team effort from the players, their parents, their instructors and their supporters. To transport the musicians and their equipment, to have the performers’ uniforms cleaned and pressed, and to have the players all fed, hydrated and ready to deliver their best performance requires massive coordination, dedication and year-round fund-raising by the boosters. On the day of the performance, there were 20 or 30 parents to help roll equipment onto and off the floor. “It takes a lot of parent power to get all this done,” Le Veque said.

On Sunday, it all came together in a show of their young lifetime.

“It was a very exciting day for us and definitely a huge accomplishment for us,” Le Veque said. “The kids had a great show and everything worked like clockwork, and we are extremely proud of them.”

Taking a bow at the end of their scintillating silver performance were:

Ready to perform with style and a smile.

Ready to perform with style and a smile.

Nicolette Horaites, Danny Garcia, Daniel Deguzman, Matt Acevedo, Toni Armstrong, Casey O’Dell, Christian Paz, Steven Hennig, Bryan Mitchell, Drew Phillips, Marcus Klotz, Sage Tomita, Devin Hollister, Brittany Redd, Amanda Garcia, Kaitlyn Bathke, Lindsey Kunisaki, Tyler Miller, Christopher Anderson, Jeremy Angulo, Jennifer Quintana, Eduardo Magdeleno, Devin Cheyne, Ryan Miramonte and Pablo Martinez.

Their drumline instructor is Mike Inzunza. Assistant instructors are Curtis McPherson and Robert Decoste.

At the Spring Concert on June 1 on the front lawn of Bonita High School, the drumline will perform its show one last time. Please make plans to join them and hear this extraordinary group. Refreshments will be served. For more information, please email contact Kathryn Le Veque via the Bearcats website at www.lvbba.org. Also read the “Bonita Spring Concert” on LaVerneOnline.com for more details.

Print This Post Print This Post

Leave a Reply