By Craig Stocks / Photography by Craig Stocks
The Peoria Park District has a long list of programs that are available to the community, but none announce their arrival quite like the ELITE Pulses of Hope Drumline. If you’re fortunate enough to be at one of their many performances, the driving rhythm of the drums and precision marching movements are hard to miss. And based on the big smiles on the drummers’ faces, it’s apparent they’re having as much fun performing as we are watching.
The Pulses of Hope Drumline got its start several years ago through the leadership of Carl Cannon as part of the Peoria Park District’s ELITE Youth Program. The drumline program has grown in popularity over the years, and in 2011 they were invited to perform at the International City Festival in Peoria’s sister city of Friedrichshafen, Germany.
Most of the drumline members also perform with their high school band where they receive their formal music education. The drumline routines, however, are self taught by the group. They study videos of college drumline routines for ideas and inspiration. Then everyone contributes as they come together to translate the inspiration into a performance routine.
Combine their school band commitments with the drumline practices and performances, and then throw in a part time job, and it makes for a busy schedule. According to drumline general manager Jeff Mosher, the ability to balance those commitments is a part of what the program teaches. In the process, they learn more about their own capabilities, which “brings their self confidence to a whole new level.”
They also learn to work together as a group. Jeff says, “Like the Marine Corps – nobody is left behind. If one is struggling, the others pitch in to help.” Jeff was proud to point out that two of last year’s graduates received drumline scholarships to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.
According to Jeff, every performance is memorable, but they really like interactive experiences where they can “just walk around and play and share with the community. They can bend down and let the kids play the drums. They’ll even switch drums and ad-lib. The experience,” he continues, “shows how you need to get your work done, but you also want to have fun doing it.”
The ELITE Pulses of Hope Drumline is open to all District 150 students between 8th and 12th grade. All members are required to maintain grades of ‘C’ or above, live by the Elite Style of Respect and be a role model.. As Jeff described it, “Anybody with a little drumming background can join, and you don’t have to be invited.” Parents can help as well, such as helping with car pools to help transport the members.
For more information, visit ELITE website at www.eliteyp.org. Students interested in joining can also get more information through their band teacher or by contacting Jeff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org.