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It’s time to bring back the pep

Wesleyan’s new drumline performs at the Alumni Reunion Weekend. Photo by Shaydi Paramore

A new football program is not the only thing Texas Wesleyan University is preparing for the fall of 2017.
A new pep band and drumline will also start regularly performing at various campus events and are already rehearsing, according to Dr. Mai Hessel, adjunct of music. The two groups held their first rehearsal on March 28.
“We expect this group to be both diligent and dedicated,” junior music major Tyler Simpson wrote in an email, “both of which have been demonstrated a number of times since we began a couple of weeks ago. Only two rehearsals are required a week, but the current members have all agreed and insisted upon meeting for extra rehearsals.”
The drumline gave its first public performance at the Blue and Gold Game last weekend, where the group performed a number of cadences composed by Simpson and Hessel.
Simpson wrote that both the pep band and drumline will be featured at all home football games, select basketball games, and other events. Beginning in the fall, there will also be a class offered for pep band and drumline members to gain course credit, which should help grow diversity in the Department of Music.
“Students that grew up in the ‘marching band atmosphere’ will become more attracted to the campus,” Simpson wrote. “As a whole, the establishment of both programs provide even more options for current and potential Wesleyan students to express themselves via the arts.”
These are not Wesleyan’s first drumlines and pep bands, wrote Dr. Paul Sikes, assistant professor of music and director of bands.
“The pep band and marching band were around through much of the history of Wesleyan, but somewhere along the way, kind of disappeared,” Sikes wrote in an email. “We’re simply bringing back one of the wonderful traditions of the university and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. To have the opportunity to play an important role at the school is really great.”
Sikes wrote that the pep band will be performing in the stands for most of the football season. There are high hopes for expansion in the years ahead, and the band will begin marching once it reaches 100 students.
“We will be recruiting throughout the summer for band members,” Sikes wrote. “Auditions will be held the week before classes begin with rehearsals starting that same week. We plan to have regular rehearsals throughout that first week, and then have regular rehearsals each week once school begins.”
Sikes hopes the band will be an integral part of the university, and something that everyone will value.
“I hope this first group leaves a legacy and tradition of excellence and service to the university,” Sikes wrote.
Simpson wrote that he and Dr. Jerome Bierschenk, Department of Music chairman, began talking about establishing a pep band and drumline a little more than two years ago. Once the final decision to revive the football team was made, the need for a pep band and drumline was more plausible. Bierschenk then began talking about the pep band and drumline with university President Frederick Slabach, and recruiting began in the fall of 2016.
Simpson wrote that music is the only activity that uses both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously.
“Students who perform in these groups are utilizing the side of the creativity, as well as the side of the analyzation and logic, both at the same time,” Simpson wrote.
Hessel wrote that she is extremely honored to be part of this process, and that she is excited for what the future holds.
“I just started the first percussion chamber ensemble in the fall of 2016,” Hessel wrote. “I have written some cadences for the Wesleyan drumline for the scrimmage game. I can see the excited vibes in the process, and I see the school and music program improving at a rapid pace.”
Hessel wrote that the current drumline only has one Wesleyan percussion student, while the rest of the members are wind and string players.
“I’m hoping that the opportunity to play in a drumline and pep band will recruit more incoming students,” Hessel wrote. “Having performance opportunities and being exposed to people outside of the music program is a great opportunity to spread our name and existence. Performing at sporting events will be a great opportunity for visibility in the community, and once we have more people involved we can consider adding a marching band or compete for indoor drumline competitions.”
As drum captain and center-snare, Simpson is taking in each step of the process.
“Personally, I am beyond humbled to have had such involvement in the development of this program,” Simpson wrote. “It is not every day that one can enroll as an undergraduate at a university that is now 126 years old and be provided with the opportunity to impact the campus in such a large and everlasting way! I take comfort in knowing that the drumline will be yet another Wesleyan tradition that will grow to be something bigger than myself and its current members, something great.”

Wesleyan’s new drumline performs at the Alumni Reunion Weekend.
Photo by Shaydi Paramore
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It’s time to bring back the pep