Today: Jun 18, 2024

Drumline works to empower and motivate

Desteny Maragh Reporter

The Blue Steel Drumline has the goal to empower, teach and motivate. The community-oriented program works to create a safe space for those who love music to be part of a family.

“My main goal is to get kids to college,” said Eric Green, the band director, “coming from where we come from, a very small amount of kids gets the opportunity to attend college although many have the aspiration.”

In 2009, Green was the assistant band director at Hillhouse High School and was presented with the opportunity to become the percussion director at Southern by the head of the music department.

Green said his mission is to “bridge the gap between the community and Southern.”

While many participants on the team are from the inner city of New Haven, Green concentrates on building skills that can be used beyond the city.

“Experience isn’t even needed. You can just drop in,” said Green. “The only requirement that I state is to maintain a 2.3 GPA.”

Green attended Virgina State, which is a Historically Black University, so he tries to incorporate the ‘down south style’ to his teaching. That means choreographed movement, dancing and theatrics.

Band culture is rooted in competition, so the Blue Steel Drumline practices three times a week from 5:30-8:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday outside of Earl Hall.

“We teach anything you want to learn from reading music to holding sticks. Anyone looking to join is welcome,” said Green.

The drumline has a family-oriented structure, so Green said everyone on the team is close and considers one another to be kin.

“Before joining the drumline, I would barely leave my room. I felt lost and empty at Southern because I didn’t know anyone,” said education major Alexus Lee, a junior. “From the first day, everyone was so welcoming and made me feel like family.”

She said she has found a “home” on the team. “It’s deeper than music,” said Lee.

She said she has been playing drums since 7th grade but before that she “couldn’t sit still.” She loves dancing and would always be “drumming” without even knowing it.

“I’ve always had a passion for music and will continue practicing it,” said Lee, “even if that means incorporating it into my teaching.”

She said normally before a performance she feels nervous, but once she’s into it, she cannot even describe the emotion it gives her. Education major Jayquan Bromell, a junior, also participates in the Blue Steel drumline.

“I’m the energetic force,” he said, “the crowd pleaser.”

He said that himself and his team are inspired by techniques used by HBU’s and try to study their memorable abilities to integrate into their own routines.

“Music makes me feel like I’m in my own world,” said Bromell. “I’ve always played sports, but music is different.”

He said he lives in an area where kids do not usually graduate.

“They sell drugs, go to jail, or even die young,” said Bromell. “I’m not a street person, but this team makes me not even look at the street.”

Although Bromell has only been on the team for a year, he says he considers the team his “second family.”

“I learn from everyone,” said Bromell.

Music and photography major Alvin Furlow, a junior, has been on the team since he was in high school. He said he “came on not knowing nothing, now I know something.”

He said he always loved music growing up in church and was eager to join the team.

“This team made me major in music,” said Furlow. “Music means everything to me.”

His passion for music and photography has led to his goal of teaching youths and practicing photography professionally.

He said the Blue Steel Drumline helps keep him focused and grounded.

“Everyone pushes you to be better,” Furlow said, “on and off the line.”

Photo credit: Desteny Maragh

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