Pilgrim Park drumline marches through Summerfest
Group helps showcase YMCA National gymnasts
An 18-member band from Pilgrim Park Middle School on June 29 showcased its musical talents at Summerfest.
They didn't need a stage.
Members of the school's drumline led a parade of more than 1,600 gymnasts from across the country through the Big Gig's grounds on a 20-minute march. The parade started at the North Gate and traveled along the lakefront on the way to the BMO Harris Tent.
It was all part of the Milwaukee hosting the 2012 YMCA National Gymnastics Championships this past weekend.
The unique opportunity for the drumline resulted from the familial collaboration of Brian Balfany, Pilgrim Park's music teacher, and his wife, Mikaela, a public relations specialist for the YMCA of Greater Milwaukee.
The idea surfaced a few months ago.
"I was in a meeting about the gymnastics meet and Summerfest and someone mentioned that it would be great if we could introduce the gymnasts with music," Mikaela Balfany said. "Someone mentioned having drummers or a drumline, and I said, 'I know where we could get that.' "
Brian, who is in his fifth year teaching music at Pilgrim Park, including two years of drumline, said he saw the Summerfest parade as an opportunity to keep students engaged and give them a reward for their hard work.
(See the drummers practice in Rick Romano's video at right).
"We have been rehearsing regularly and they are coming in on their own even after school has been out," he said as students gathered the day before to go over their routine at Pilgrim Park. "They also get into Summerfest for free."
For students Braxton Williams and Sara Manjee, attending Summerfest was a first-time experience. They said it was a nice perk of doing an activity they already enjoy.
"A friend of mine said he really liked drumline the first year, so I thought I would do it," said Braxton, who will enter eighth grade in fall.
"I like different types of music," said Sara, who has been a music student since fourth grade and will enter high school in fall. "I like that drums have power over the rest of the band."
Brian Balfany said getting students to take drumline classes is not difficult.
"We did not have to sell the idea to them," he said. "They have really enjoyed being there."
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