New HP Indoor Drumline Brings Home Championship

Last year, Highland Park didn’t have an indoor drumline. This year, its performers brought home a championship. 

The drumline’s 34 members, including high schoolers and nine middle school percussionists, won first place in their division at the North Texas Colorguard Association (NTCA) Championship in April.

Indoor drumline is a bit of a misnomer — the students’ performance melds theater, dance, and music, and involves costumes, props, storytelling, and pageantry. Indoor drumline has been called “the sport of the arts” by its governing body, Winter Guard International (WGI). 

“Some people call it indoor drumline theater,” Highlander Band percussion director Quiyan Murphy said.

Highland Park’s first-place winning performance, titled “…should you choose to accept it,” recreated a ballroom in Turin, Italy as the setting for a James Bond-esque spy story, complete with an eye-patch wearing villain, voiceovers, and a cliffhanger ending. Band students even danced a tango. 

“You always have to have a tango in a spy movie,” explained Murphy, who conceived and executed the performance with the help of design team members Ellie Murphy, Avery Turman, Sara Oliveira, Naomi Murphy, Chad Solis, Justin Samuels, Geoff Schoeffel, Andrew Werst, and Garrett Lambert.

Murphy is completing his first year in Highland Park, where students hadn’t even realized that indoor drumline existed before his arrival. But they quickly caught on. 

Over the course of the season, the indoor drumline’s scores at competitions jumped 22 points. The drumline brought home wins in its last two competitions during the regular season. Highland Park’s performers also qualified for finals the first time they completed their entire five-minute show in the WGI regional competition in Dallas, eventually taking home bronze medals. 

“I don’t think anyone expected to get first in our first year,” senior Rohan Mani said of the drumline’s NTCA championship. “I think even (Mr. Murphy) was surprised just a little bit.”

The group earned its accolades despite practicing only four to six hours each week, less than the eight hours that bands are permitted to rehearse by University Interscholastic League, Murphy said. Indoor drumline rehearsals were very efficient because the students didn’t require many repetitions to learn new skills.

“(The students) get all the credit,” Murphy said. “They’re out there marching and playing and running, and they will just remember. The retention was amazing.”

Senior Charlie Hardaway said Murphy made the drumline sound “really fun” and it was.

“We have more intense marching than we would normally do in the fall,” Hardaway said. “We’re spinning around, we’re moving around, we’re running from side to side basically, with the drums and playing.”

This year’s drumline was funded by donations from Band Boosters, as well as through a fundraiser with Fajita Pete’s and contributions from Highland Park families. HP Arts provided crash cymbals.

Murphy said he hopes that the drumline’s success “catches fire to the rest of the (band) program,” and that he eventually has a chance to show off his performers at a national championship.

“It’s nice to have the recognition,” Murphy said. “But beyond any trophy or anything, it’s just build the kids up.”

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