Most days after school the methodic sound of drumbeats emanates from the basement of Valor’s Academic Building. The sound comes from a small but mighty group of students who meet regularly with Mr. Jake Hovis and Mr. Rick Russon as a part of Valor’s “Blue Crew” to explore the world of percussion. Made possible this fall by a donor gift, the Blue Crew mixes entertainment with great rhythms, creating what will someday become a spirit team and drumline for Valor events. Think Blue Man Group meets Stomp – crazy creativity meets some serious beats!
Reid Cowperthwaite ‘22 has been drumming for four years and wanted to take on a new challenge in making music with everyday objects. Other participants are new to drumming but eagerly embrace the learning process, as well as the opportunity to build some of their own instruments by hand. The group uses everything from hardware buckets to a homemade “drumbone” to create their beats.
STEM Coordinator Rick Russon explains how physics principles come into play in the creation of the “drumbone”, a PVC pipe percussion version of a trombone. “The drumbone works on the principle of acoustic resonance that most musical instruments rely on. When we hit the PVC pipe it creates a vibration in the pipe that results in a sound coming out the open ends.” Other factors, like the thickness of pipe wall, diameter of the pipe, curves in the walls, and more affect the pitch and tone of the sound.
In the process of learning the science behind the instruments, the group also has a lot of fun. Mr. Hovis has high hopes for the group as they continue to grow. “The goal for Blue Crew is to have a lot of fun, entertain the crowd, build school spirit, and do it in a unique way,” he says. Combining skills in music, arts, and STEM, they ultimately want to build their own instruments and devices like t-shirt cannons to create fun student experiences at school events.
Reid encourages anyone who is interested to attend a Blue Crew meeting and pick up a pair of drumsticks. He says, “It’s all for fun. Just try it out!”
For more information about Blue Crew meetings and practice times, email Jake Hovis.