Drumming to success: students work to join recognized group

by Alyssa Pena | staff writer

It’s no surprise that band students work diligently year round. From sun up til way past sun down, these award-winning group of students live, sleep, eat, and breathe music. They compete in competitions, and audition non-stop for the most rigorous of rhythmic routines. But the most prestigious, and certainly the most talked about group this year is the Winter Guard International’s 5 Points Percussion.

“It’s’ something that’s very high, musically, [and] it’s very musically requiring,” junior Nicte Sobravilla said. “So we auditioned for it, a couple of us made it, and it’s been really fun. All the teachers are really awesome.”

The 5 Points Percussion Ensemble is an independent, indoor drumline group that includes students up to 22 years old from all over the San Antonio, Austin, and Corpus Christi areas. Students auditioned in mid-to-late October for a chance to partake in this iconic event and six current Johnson students were selected to participate, as well as two Johnson alumni.

“It’s just people who really, really want to do this, and we’re all taking a jump together into the music world,” Sobravilla said. “So it’s kind of risky because we don’t know where it’s going to go.”

Once students are selected for the 5 Points Percussion group, they must be wholeheartedly committed to attend every rehearsal, be there on time, ready to play on Fridays from 8pm to 12 midnight, and weekends from 9 am to either 2pm or 11pm.

“Well I’m definitely not going out with my school friends as much, but I mean, it’s cool hanging out with different people,” senior Joy Duarte said. “They’re all  friendly and nice,and it’s fun to be around.”

While the group is highly selective and unrelentless in terms of rehearsal time, the experiences that they provide for students are unimaginable. Participants are able to travel across the country from May until August, sleeping on gym floors and on tour buses, not being able to go home.  

“It’s a commitment thing, and if you’re really interested in it, the staff there can get you places all over the U.S. in regards to different corps, different bands, and different groups that you can join,” Sobravilla said.

Not only were the students interested in working with other students across the area, they sought an opportunity to expand their playing expertise and do something that they’ve never done before.

“I thought it was a cool idea to do something different and more challenging than regular high school marching band, and I thought it was a cool opportunity to just play more challenging and fun stuff,” Duarte said.

Most students who auditioned did so more for the experience, and for an opportunity to interact with new, interesting people who were like-minded and interested in similar things.

“It definitely allows you to go outside the box of your comfort zone and to push you further than what you think you could do,” Duarte said.

Along with the opportunity, Sobravilla adds that additional programs not only showcase the true potential of students but helps them develop better time management.

“A lot of people would think that it’s really stupid to do this,” Sobravilla said. “and I understand that perspective because, you know, you’re in high school, and musicians, we take AP classes, so we obviously have that load on top of it.”

Despite the heavy load on their backs, students participating in 5 Points Percussion are able to have a unique outlet to express their musical talents, and challenge themselves to be the best they can be.

“I find it really fun. I didn’t want to be over from just marching band,” Duarte said. “It’s kind of easy for me, and I wanted something more challenging to push me further, [and] to make me better as a player and a person.”

Although the work is hard and time consuming, participants are able to experience the joy of making music while also taking part in the inaugural year of a group that enlightens the lives of everyone involved.

“You’re performing a show that’s so amazing, and there’s nothing like being able to perform with that group of people, and do something so physical and something that you put so much time into,” Sobravilla said. “And [at the end] we’re literally all holding hands, and throwing all of our money in, throwing all of our time in, and just hoping for the best for this group.”

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