Keeping the beat with WSCC Drum Line Ensemble. 

October 20, 2021

Keeping the beat with WSCC Drum Line Ensemble. 

WSCC News is a presentation of West Shore Community College in partnership with Mason County Press. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

VICTORY TOWNSHIP — Each Monday night, things get a little loud in the Arts & Sciences Building on the main campus of West Shore Community College. About 20 students gather for rehearsal of the WSCC Drumline, under the direction of Xavier Verna with assistance from Ted Malt, professor of performing arts, and Zack Korienek. The group was started as the Percussion Ensemble in 2018. This year, the group is exclusively drums. 

“Marching band drum lines have a wide appeal and a course like this is very useful for students who wish to perform either in a college or university marching band or even just to better their drumming skills,” Malt, who is also director of performing arts at WSCC, said. 

Like the other performing arts programs at WSCC, the class consists of a variety of age groups and experience from various parts of the college’s district. The group includes middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults. 

A slight rivalry exists in the class between Verna and Malt. Verna performed with the University of Michigan Marching Band while Malt performed with the Michigan State University Marching Band. The two make light of the rivalry but are serious when they talk about the valuable experiences either organization offers to a musician. 

Vega, who is also the executive director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee, became interested in drum lines while in his high school marching band. 

“For me what attracted me to music was the drum line. It kept me engaged throughout the year, not just during marching band season.” 

Verna has a degree in performing arts and music education. Before being hired as director of the Ramsdell, he was director of education for the Sphinx Organization in Detroit. He also taught at the University of Toledo. 

“These student are getting their training from the ground up,” Malt said. “They are learning the foundations, rudimentary training. We are basically starting from scratch with them, no matter their skill levels.”

Verna said drum line not only teaches individual drumming skills but also teaches discipline and teamwork.

“It’s a heathy environment for a student to be in,” Verna said. 

Malt added that the WSCC course is like a sectional music class offered during summer music camp. “Most of the time, a band teacher just doesn’t have time to devote to a particular section. This class offers the student additional skills. We try to offer similar one-on-one lessons for other instruments as well, but not quite like a specialized class like the drum line. Our hope is that the middle school and high school students can bring these skills back and help enhance their school band programs — and, of course, then take those skills into a higher learning environment after high school.” 


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