BHS Drumline - ‘competitive theatre’

BHS Drumline - ‘competitive theatre’By LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

Since about 2005, Burroughs High School has offered Drumline as an extracurricular activity. Coach Art Atencio describes it as, “competitive theater. You take the concept of whatever the song is, then you try to present that concept in a way that judges can look at and score you.” But unlike theater which uses actors, props, and sets drumline presents by incorporating a variety of different percussion instruments.

“The kids are given an option to join drumline in the second semester after they fulfilled all their music requirements for first semester,” says Atencio. “They have to be enrolled in a music class. Meaning that it’s not just drummers that are in symphonic band that can participate. It can be any band member, any orchestra or choir member. Anyone that’s in a music program at Burroughs High School. It’s kind of an option for them to see a different side of the music world because marching band is often seen as a disciplined regimen of kids who march in straight lines, do formations on a football field, march in parades, and so forth. Drumline gives them an opportunity to be more musical and theatrical.”

Atencio is a Ridgecrest native and Burroughs graduate. By day he works as a Property Clerk for the City of Ridgecrest. His Assistant Coaches, Lauren Rindt and Christian Matson, are also Burroughs graduates. Graduates and former Drumline team members are always welcome to volunteer.

“1984, when I was in Burroughs, we didn’t have much in the music program as far as percussion goes. It was a small band. We were down at a parade in Rancho Cucamonga and the staging area was filled with all the bands that were marching in that parade. Our little drumline of three guys sees drummers having a showdown. This drum corps does their thing, then another drum corps does their thing and another drum corps does their thing. The one who got the greatest applause got bragging rights because they were the winner. I just thought it was the coolest thing.” He was sad he couldn’t be a part of it. “I always wished we had that.

So years later, after Simon Austin came to town and changed the music program around, I found out that they had a drumline and I realized, ‘Oh! They have what I wanted back when I was in high school.”

As a drummer in the rock band, Drivin’ 395 he knew lots of drummers in town. He spoke to some of his contacts and was to able volunteer as Assitant Coach to Rocky Harris. When Harris retired from the base and moved away, Atencio assumed the leadership role he has today.

In the early years, the Burroughs Drumline competed in Bakersfield. They switched to competing in Lancaster and Antelope Valley where it was “less rigid. I wanted to have fun with the drumline. Bakersfield is extremely competitive. There are a lot of rivalries because there are so many high schools in Bakersfield.” In 2019, before the pandemic, the team won the League Championship.

Their season is during the second semester, January through May or June. They are having a lot of fun with their show which is from an arrangement called “Classroom.” However, they have twisted it for fun and it is more of “Detention Hall, giving the kids an opportunity to get a little crazier with their the choreography and express the music.” Which Atencio gets a big kick out of because the kids on the team are all good kids with strong GPAs.

The public will be able to see the Burroughs Drumline on May 12 at 6pm in the Burroughs gym. Doors open at 5:30 with free admission. Donations accepted.

One will be treated to snare drums, bass drums, a quad (which is a tenor drum with five or six small tenor drums all attached), and the mallet instruments – marimba, vibraphone, woodblocks – and other percussive instruments. These are kids who normally play violins, trumpets, clarinets and other band/orchestra instruments.

“I’m just so proud of the kids,” says Atencio. “A lot of these kids don’t come in as percussion students. They like to do the drumline because it’s an escape from what they normally do. It’s something extra for seniors going off to college. It looks great on the college resume to have an extracurricular like drumline on the resume.”

Laura Austin Photo: BHS Drumline consists of drums, a keyboard, multiple types of mallet instruments and other percussive instruments.

Story First Published: 2022-04-22