Indoor Panthers finding their rhythm


The arrival of February marks an important time for many percussionists at Elder. Those who have not taken part in the steel drum band or a side project for Elder Fest are preparing for another set of competitions; the Indoor Drumline season.

For those who are unaware, Indoor Drumline comprises of battery (the marching percussionists) and pit (the front ensemble). Therefore it is basically a continuation of marching band with only the drummers.

In recent years, Elder has had relatively experienced cores of upperclassmen with little shortage of leadership. This year, however, Elder’s lineup is full of young prospects as it consists of only two seniors; Jason Geis on the keyboard and Brennan Smith on the marimba. While this may be a concern for the purple drummers, Jason revealed some other surprising news about their schedule.

“This year, we have switched to MEPA,” Jason said.

MEPA, which stands for Mid-East Performance Association, is a competition circuit of high schools that is completely different from the previous Tri-State circuit in which Elder participated.

I think it gives Elder a chance to show other bands how good we really are

— Vonte Jennings

Jason continued to elaborate on the differences between the two circuits. He explained how Elder is facing all new competition and playing at all new events. “I am looking forward to being in a new circuit and getting a fresh start,” he said.

Seeing the leadership Geis exhibited during marching season, it was no surprise to find his enthusiasm and optimism in sophomore snare drummer Vonte Jennings.

“I think it gives Elder a chance to show other bands how good we really are,” Vonte commented. Playing in his second year of Indoor Drumline, Jennings made the switch from bass drum to snare after his success in marching band earlier this school year.

“We have a very experienced front ensemble,” Jennings stated. He designated them as the strongest component of the drumline.

Freshman Ryan Herlihy is also eager for his first year of Indoor Drumline.

“I joined to get some more experience on drums,” he reasoned. After participating in the Elder/Seton grade school band last year, he feels ready for his debut on the bass drum.

“I think we will do really well this year,” Ryan predicted. “We’ve all been working hard at practice.”

Under the unparalleled expertise of Andy Mersch , Elder’s own percussion instructor, and his acquaintance Scotty McEvoy; the drumline will be showcasing a performance titled It’s About Time.

“After last season I immediately started toying around with very general topics which could be portrayed in many different ways,” Mersch explained when asked about his inspiration for the show. The performance aims to trigger various dimensions perspective within its audience. Even the title itself is a play on the literal and figurative meaning of its words.

I then asked for Mersch’s predictions for Elder’s first year in MEPA.

“It’s hard to tell,” he replied. “We’re going up against all new competition and we could either do really well or get our butts kicked.”

Nearing their first competition February 8th at Bellbrook High School, the purple percussionists feel confident that this will be a productive season. So next Monday, when cutting through the Schaeper Center on the way to your car, be sure pass the band room for a sample of Elder’s Indoor Drumline.