Drumroll, Please…

Dedicated percussionists come together to make unique music


Photo courtesy J. Graham

Members of the Percussion Ensemble pose for a picture after touring the District 7 elementary schools.

Foster Neely, Student Life Editor

The Percussion Ensemble at Spartanburg High School is a group of talented percussionists from grades 9-12 that meet every day during fourth period to work on unique and challenging music. The group is led by band teacher Matt McDaniel, the principal percussionist of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and a well-known name in the Spartanburg professional music world. McDaniel pushes his students hard for success, and their performances always show off the high level of music they are able to perform.

Luke Crocker (11) has been playing percussion since the fifth grade with the District 7 band program.

“In usual band class, percussion is very boring and uninvolved, while percussion ensemble is only percussion, creating a unique and fun class. Every single person in percussion ensemble is talented and hard-working, and we put countless hours of practice to put together good music,” Crocker said.

One of the things that members of the ensemble pride themselves on is their ability to play multiple different percussion instruments. During their concerts, one can see each member moving from instrument to instrument, all while maintaining focus and composure. This versatility is very helpful for the group, because one person can fill in for another if it is needed at any point.

Malachi Watts (10) is a second-year member of the Percussion Ensemble.

“My favorite part of the group is being challenged and getting to play with many incredible percussionists. Percussion Ensemble is a great experience, I have learned a lot and met a lot of great people,” Watts said.

The members of the group also participate in various other activities, such as sports, marching band and the SHS symphony orchestra. Because of their skillset, percussionists are often needed in groups like orchestras and bands to add unique sounds to musical works. For example, at the Feb. 16 Chamber Orchestra concert, members of the Percussion Ensemble played the congas and bongos on a Latin-themed work to bring out the traditional Latin rhythms and styles.

Jackson Hall (11) is a devoted percussionist. He was the principal percussionist at the South Carolina Music Education Association (SCMEA) All-State Band and Orchestra this year, and the only percussionist to achieve this honor.

“My favorite part about Percussion Ensemble is the wide scope of music we play and the sense of community in the program. I have been around the same group of people since I entered. I’ve gotten to know everyone in the class and I think they are all great people. I’ve also gotten to know people in other parts of the school music program and people in music from other schools because of Percussion Ensemble,” Hall said.

The next Percussion Ensemble concert will be on May 12 in the Fine Arts Center.