Wednesday, October 29, 2003

'Thump' plays a bucketful of music

Summit View student band performs on found objects

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Drummers Kenny Houghlin (left) and Jacob Bailey, members of Summit View Middle School's percussion band Thump, pound on red buckets during practice in the gymnasium before school. Kenny, 13, is an eighth-grader; Jacob, 12, is a seventh-grader. The school is in Independence.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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INDEPENDENCE - As the noise grew louder inside the Summit View Middle School gym, the curious crowd outside the gym doors grew larger.

"That is awesome!" exclaimed Josh Conley, 14. "We have a lot of talented kids here."

Josh was on his way to his first class of the day when he stopped at the gym to watch the rehearsal of Thump, the 26-member band of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who make music by pounding, bouncing and banging objects brought in from home.

The band is a spin-off of Stomp, the world-renowned group founded in Britain in 1991 that uses items such as brooms, poles and matchboxes to create harmonic sounds.

The Summit View kids scrounged through their garages and brought in whatever they could find that could make noise - plastic and metal buckets, wooden table legs, plastic pipes, big rubber balls and even a bicycle wheel that can make beautiful music when a stick is run over the spokes.

"They love it," said band director Debbie Brown, who came up with the idea this year. "Even though it's early in the morning, they don't miss a rehearsal and are very dedicated."

Thump practices before school twice a week for a half-hour. Brown, who has taught music on the elementary, high school and college levels, created the rhythm and choreography. "But sometimes the kids will come up with a rhythm," said Brown. "The bucket battle at the end is totally their idea."

The two-minute performance the students are working on now ends with a battle between Jacob Bailey, 12, and Kenny Houghlin, 13. They stand face to face, pounding big red buckets with sticks as fast and as long as they can until only one person is left standing.

"It's really no different than playing in concert band," said Houghlin, a percussionist in the concert band. "This is something I can do before school and not just sit around in a classroom."

Amanda Hoffman, 13, plays the flute in the concert band. She's a metal bucket banger in Thump.

"It's not really that hard," said Hoffman. "You just have to learn the rhythms and keep them in your head."

Brown said the closest type of band to Thump would be a marching band, but Thump has a few more challenges.

"Not having yard lines and markers makes it difficult," said Brown. "The kids have to depend on each other to know where to move."

Thump has been practicing for four weeks and will have its first live performance Thursday at 7 p.m. in the gym. The group is the opening act at the school's annual fall band concert.

"I want to show the public the work in progress," said Brown.

Thump also will perform on Nov. 18 at halftime of Summit View's home basketball game. Then they'll focus on their Christmas show in December.

"We'll add more festive types of sounds," said Brown. "More metal, water glasses and metal buckets that are pitched differently."

See Thump!, 7 p.m. Thursday at Summit View Middle School gym; and Nov. 18, halftime show of Summit View's home basketball game

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