Little drummer girls march to their own beat

Megan Angelo

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but the ladies of the Villanova Drumline seem partial to pearls.

The young women who make up the percussion group were recently featured in an advertisement for Pearl Drums, the exclusive drum supplier of the Villanova Band. The ad showed the girls dressed in black evening gowns and strings of pearls, posing with their instruments. The slogan boasted, “Nova Girls Love Their Pearls.” Senior Meredith Barrett, bass drum player, explains that the opportunity to create the ad came about when senior Tom Becker, who she describes as a “mentor-type person” for the drumline, worked out an arrangement with his employer, the Pearl Drum company.

The drumline provides music and atmosphere throughout the school year as part of several different programs. The marching band season, during which the drumline is most active, occurs in the fall. Each football game’s halftime show features a new routine by the band and usually include traditional marching pieces and more modern pop music. The drumline also makes appearances at Wildcat Village and other pep rallies, and pumps up the crowd throughout football games.

Other drumline highlights throughout the year include participation in the Percussion Ensemble, which performs at various events and aims to recruit new, non-band members, and performances with the Concert Band, which toured in Ireland this fall. The drumline also contributes to the excitement of Villanova basketball season, when some of its members appear with the pep band to play at home games, local away games and Big East and NCAA tournament games.

“It’s a lot of work,” Barrett admits, “but it’s a lot of fun.” The entire band practices several times a week, and the drumline extends its rehearsals hours after the rest of the band has gone home and reports to band camp a full day before its string and woodwind counterparts.

The drumline is made up of three snare drums, two tenor drums, four bass drums and a cymbal line. This year’s lineup includes four seniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. Especially interesting about Villanova’s drumline is its female majority; of this year’s eight members, seven are women.

Drumline, as an activity, is expanding rapidly across the country. The movie “Drumline,” which will be released on Dec. 13, claims that “halftime is game time” and chronicles the hard work of an inner-city high school’s band.

Barrett, who gave up playing in other areas of the band to participate in the drumline, already knows that story. “People ask me, ‘Why did you change from a piccolo that you can put in your pocket to carrying around a bass drum?’ But the payoff is incredible.”