WLU Junk-Line reworks drums

A drumline, a section of percussion instruments typically played as a marching ensemble, is something that people associate with high school football games. During the half-time show, a group of organized drummers march around the field while the audience cheers on. Even though Wilfrid Laurier University doesn’t have an official drumline, we have something even better: Junk-Line. The WLU Junk-Line is a garbage can entertainment drumline for all types of Laurier events.

Not sure what garbage can drumming looks like? It’s making beats/songs/chants by drumming on upside down garbage cans.

“The point of our group is to boost Laurier spirit. Our main performances are sporting events and club activities, i.e. Laurier Day, Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) week, the basketball home-opener and homecoming,” explained Junk-Line creator Hilary Whiskin. Whiskin, a fourth-year music student at Laurier, has always loved the enthusiastic and high-energy nature of drumlines.

“When I was ten, my grandpa bought me drumsticks and a drum pad because I used to love watching the drumlines in parades. I went a lot because my parents were both in a marching band,” said Whiskin.

Even though her passions were pursued here at Laurier, her ambitions of a WLU drumline didn’t commence until much later.

“I noticed that we didn’t have any form of musical entertainment for games and such in my first year and I wanted to provide that. It took me three years to get going because I knew we could never get funding for drums, until we thought up the idea of garbage cans, people can spill beer on it or kick it and it doesn’t really matter,” claimed Whiskin.

The WLU Junk-Line comprises of not just Whiskin, but also four other music students who share the same drumming passion. Second-year music students Dave Klassen, of the band The Bends, Michael Paolucci, James Reesor and James Dowbiggin all assist Whiskin in the makeshift musicals. However, there is a lot more preparation and practice that goes into these garbage can drum compositions than it appears.

“It’s much harder to play on cans than real drums because they don’t have as much rebound. They are also super malleable, so they are really dented, which makes it hard to find flat surface to play on,” stated Whiskin.

On top of the rough materials, all members must read and memorize sheet music which makes up their songs. It is much more complicated than just banging sticks on trash cans.

But what do they perform? They have about nine written songs and have perfected the art of musical improvisation as they are constantly going from event to event.

“Although we do play at sporting events, our main goal is to support any Laurier events. We are for hire to anyone essentially who is hosting an event and would like some fun free entertainment,” enthused Whiskin.

Most recently, they performed at ARK week held by the campus club Acts of Random Kindness (ARK). They set up in the quad and amped up passersby by rattling their trash cans to some very melodic and “school spirit” type beats.

What’s next for WLU Junk-Line? As Whiskin puts it they’re planning on expanding.

“We are looking for new performances for next semester and we’re also hoping to do an educational drum clinic for all levels of drumming. We are writing some more beats and just creating support so more people know about our service,” she said.

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