What It Takes To Make The Line

Over the years we have been able to watch people come onto the scene, post their first drumming videos on social media, get critiqued in the comments, get cut from auditions, but continue pushing forward regardless of adversity and eventually reach their goals. When that happens it is a magical moment, but there is no magic involved, it takes work.

People ask us all the time, "What does it take to make the line?" And while there is no equation written in stone, practice, persistence, and truly living a Get Better Lifestyle are ingredients often found in success.

It is hard to see when you're in it, living in the moment, but from our perspective, it is very clear to see who is going to make it to the end of the tunnel. The people who reach their goals are the ones who understand the difference between knowing and doing:

  • Knowing you need to practice every day vs actually doing it.
  • Knowing you need to go to the audition vs actually doing it.
  • Knowing to keep going after you get cut vs actually doing it.

KNOWING what you're supposed to do is very important, but it doesn't actually get you anywhere. You have to DO. And it can't be weeks before your deadline either. The people you see making these top drumlines have been cut before, and have marched numerous years at other respectable ensembles before making their dream drumline. In other words, THEY HAVE PUT IN THE WORK.

2019 Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps Snare Line | Photo sent by Sebastian Martinez

The picture above is particularly special to us because it is clear evidence that the process works. Watching GB Street Team members like Chris Jackson (@chezjacksondrums), David Parker (@david.parker_), and Sebastian Martinez (@sebastianplaysdrums) make the Bluecoats Snare Line this year is a testament to the Get Better Lifestyle. We have seen these performers grow so much over the years and we can say there is never a moment when they are not ALL-IN on getting better.

CHRIS JACKSON | @chezjacksondrums

For the years we have seen Chris on social media he has always been an active member within the marching arts culture. Like many others, he has always dreamed of making the Bluecoats snare line. Now seeing him finally realize that goal is a proud moment because we know the work he put in for YEARS to develop that level of skill. He has marched with Jersey Surf, USAAAMB, and United Percussion and is an alumni of our GB Private Lessons ProgramChris is one of the people we truly admire because of his tenacity and relentlessness to get better, and it is no question that he deserves every bit of success that comes his way. 

DAVID PARKER | @david.parker_

David is another example of someone who is always on the daily grind. Watching his videos on Instagram over the years has been fun and inspiring. We are so hyped to see him perform with the Bluecoats this season and are even more excited to know the work he has put in to get there. He is constantly practicing and pushing the boundaries of rudimental drumming. With every video we see posted of his, you can tell there is a maturity to his playing that comes from consistency and dedication to his craft.

SEBASTIAN MARTINEZ | @sebastianplaysdrums

Sebastian is a BEAST and is still a young buck! He is 17 but has hands like a DCI veteran. He has been drumming since he was 10, but has only ever marched with his high school ensemble. Of course, not all high school programs are created equal, and Petal HS Percussion is an AMAZING program, but Sebastian is a true explorer of the internet and has been capitalizing on the resources available to him for years. We remember Sebastian devouring music from GB years ago, posting videos, doing BYOS collabs, and genuinely learning as much as he could from every source he could find available to him. Sebastian would always DM us with questions on how to get better and posted drumming videos/live streams almost daily. His passion for performance is exciting and even at his age, he has played more reps than most age outs. THIS DUDE DRUMS A LOT. When you're that locked in, it is amazing the things you can accomplish.


Something all of these performers have in common can be described by one word.


They have put in the reps on the right things and it is hard to deny that type of relentless behavior. 

It is rare we get to know the background of everyone who marches the lines we idolize. A common misconception is that everyone you see marching at the top of the activity tried out and made it on the first try, when in reality, many of these people have been cut multiple years in a row with the same corps! But each time they make it a little further and get better along the way.

For example, Chris tried out for Bluecoats last year and was last cut. He did all the right things, and had amazing momentum, but still didn't make the line. But he kept pushing, and didn't let that stop him from getting better for another year and come back swinging to the auditions for 2019. If he quit, and made excuses as to why he was wrongfully cut in 2018, he would never have made the line this year.

Getting cut can be very discouraging and is one of the main reasons why people don't make it. Honestly, a huge gatekeeper of making a drumline is TIME. When you get cut you have to wait an entire year before the season starts over again. Some people just do not have the patience to make it 2 or 3 years before getting a spot. And even more don't have the energy to march multiple years at their "second choice" ensemble to gain experience. 


Yes, obviously how well you perform the music and how well you march are both the main things the staff is looking for at auditions. So it is your job to know what those expectations are and work on them, and skills can be developed over time, but if you don't have the long term persistence to make it through years of auditioning, and don't live a daily lifestyle of practicing and getting better, it is going to be very hard for you to make a spot in your dream drumline. 

So keep up the hustle, understand reaching your goals is a process, and keep your head up through adversity. You have the power to make the line, now you just have to do the work.


Want More?

We have developed a library of books to help you reach rudimental mastery. From basic fundamentals, to gridding, and beyond, our percussion library can give you an edge and allow you to know WHAT to work on.


Learn a solid foundation for rudimental percussion.


Learn the other side of playing including Mindset, Technique, and Movement guidelines for world-class marching percussion performance.



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