Day the music stops

Minutes after their Saturday evening performance, members of the Wapakoneta High School’s drumline exchanged hugs and cheers, smiles and tears.

Impulse, which is comprised of eighth-graders through high school seniors, had just concluded their 2013 season in the Ohio Indoor Performance Association Championships held for the third time at Wapakoneta High School. The event showcased 20 drumlines and 42 color guards.

“I am really going to miss this moment right here, being together and celebrating the end of another great season ending with a great show,” senior Brendan Fry said as the members crowded the lobby of the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center, some patting him on the back.

Brendan, who has been on the drumline since he was in eighth-grade, plays tenors, or a set of five drums.

“I going to miss all the people because with all the time we spend together we have basically become a family,” senior Amy Wiles said, noting Impulse practices are held once each week on Fridays for four hours and holds four eight-hour long camps during the season. “We can tell each other anything and if anybody needs anything we are always there. We spend so much time with each other that you have to love each other — so missing the people here and being able to perform for the people out there.”

Amy plays the snare drum and joined the group as a sophomore.

Brendan, Amy and the other 26 members of Impulse loved the challenge of this year’s show.

This year’s show, “Bent,” focused on the bending of sounds and using props to show the bending of objects, Wiles explained. The group is directed by Steve Wimmers, who receives help from Adam Gilbert, and former students, Broc Hottle and Amy’s brother, Alex Wiles.

Amy said people would be surprised at how complicated the routine, especially this year, since they moved to Scholastic A Division. She explained the performers even have to be cognizant of their facial expressions, compared to marching band.

“You are performing to the crowd, you are not just standing there playing an instrument with a uniform and a hat on and nobody knows who you are,” Amy said. “In Impulse you get to be yourself out there and perform. You get the chance to perform and you have to have good facial expressions and people will look at you more and you will be recognized more for your abilities.”

She said the best part is how fast this year’s routine is and the fact they are constantly moving and the upbeat pace.

This year, the drumline competed at the Scholastic A Division after being promoted because of them earning past honors. Impulse, which has received silver and bronze awards in the past five years of competition. Twice, including last year, the group was recognized as most improved drumline  and has received a special spirit award.

Amy, who has been playing since she was a sophomore, credits her brother for her involvement in Impulse, which is in its sixth year.

“My brother, who is two years older than me, did it and I saw him doing it and I played percussion for marching band and I loved it and I loved watching it so I wanted to be a part of it and I have loved it ever since,” the daughter of Mary Lou and Jerry Wiles said.

Brendan said he knew early on he wanted to be a part of Impulse and he enjoys traveling and playing different shows with the drumline.

“This is a lot more physical than band and there is a lot more musical demand as well,” the son of Donna and Keith Paul and Tammy and Lou Fry said. “It gives you a challenge.”

Another member calls on the theory of “carpé diem” for her reason for playing.

“I am just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it,” Libby Hunter said.

Libby, a four-year member of Impulse, said she knew as soon as she heard Impulse play during arts day at Wapakoneta Middle School that she wanted to join.

“You fall in love with it,” said Libby, who plays bells and the marimba for the drumline.

She also said although not considered a sport, drumline is as physically demanding as any sport would be. In addition to having to be up for the physicality of what they are doing, Impulse members also have to worry about playing music they have memorized.

Brendan and Libby said they would like to continue participating in something like this after graduation, but they don’t know if time will allow right now.

“It’s more likely that I will come back and cheer them on,” said Libby, who plans to focus on maintaining her scholarship and studying so she can have a good career.

“I definitely would go back and do it all over,” she said. “I wouldn’t give up any of the memories or friends I have made. You definitely get close to everyone involved, including the director, parents and volunteers.”

For junior Rachel Green the moment was bittersweet after joining Impulse last year.

“I was in percussion for the marching band and I was going to do it my freshmen year, but I lacked the experience and I didn’t know really what I wanted to do,” the daughter of Stephanie and Matt Green said. “My sophomore year, I made snare for marching band, fell in love with it and these guys told me what a great time they had playing for Impulse so I really wanted to join. I loved it and I wished I would have joined years ago. I love it.

Rachel will miss the friends she has made the past two years.

“I have learned the value of friendship, how to be yourself and how to be a better player,” Rachel said as her eyes well up and tears roll down her cheeks. “Definitely the playing ability, just being better at what you do, continuing the growth of this group.

“It obviously won’t be the same,” she said as tears again stream down her face and people give her hugs and words of encouragement, “but I hope to be able to continue this family atmosphere, this great tradition of performing and doing your best.”