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Drum Line: Girls Just Want to Have Fun

DRUMLINE: Luigi Cilloniz Director of Bands (l) at St. Paul, with Drumline seniors Reianna Franco and Sofia Diomedes.

 

November 25, 2021

By Tammye McDuff

In what traditionally has been a male-dominated percussion, female drummers are on the rise. The Drumline for St Paul of the Cross High School has twelve active drummers and only two are young men.

Though they’re still outnumbered, more women are playing percussion in drum corps groups than ever before. “The number of females in marching percussion is definitely growing,” says Luigi Cilloniz Director of Bands at St. Paul, who currently balances roles as a band director, drumline instructor, and Jazz bandleader. “Young women don’t seem to need encouragement to do so. In what used to be considered an all ‘boys club’ has now become a female-dominated culture.”

Cilloniz has been with St Paul for six years, “I really enjoy working as a team in music. It really has a lot of good life lessons.” Today, it would be hard to find a drum corps director or caption head who’d say girls need to prove they can carry the drum sticks. Attitudes about gender roles in music, however, are more complex than simply acknowledging that women and men are equally capable of playing any instrument. “I work with students who want to produce good music.”

St Paul senior Sofia Diomedes said, “When I first came to St. Paul I was one of two girls in a ten-person drumline and I think that we do a really good job of encouraging other females to come check it out. It is a really supportive environment. We dominate the situation.”  Diomedes has been playing the drums since fourth grade and joined the marching band her freshman year.

Reianna Franco started to play midway through her freshman year “At first I was trying out for trumpet, and then I went to a drumline meeting and I fell in love with the people there.” Franco joined the pit orchestra originally and then began to play the gong. “When drumline season came around Mr. C. showed us a video of a 2017 percussion show and I tell everyone to watch. It is so amazing. Now I play cymbals and snare drum, but I am going to try for tenors next semester.” Tenor drums are the four snare drums that you often see in military marching bands that weighs around 45 pounds.

The two young drummers admitted it was a lot of fun “We are the loudest and we are the tempo, it’s a lot of pressure but we get to push the band forward or pull it back. It’s just really fun,” added Diomedes.

When asked what the best part of being in a drumline was Franco remarked “I really just love playing and learning the music. I didn’t know any instrument when I started high school. Sofia is best friend and we really just love be drummers!”

Diomedes hopes to get into CalTech next year with a major in Environmental Engineering and Franco wants to be adventures and attend a theater arts school in Australia.

They both agree that drumline has prepared them for the future by being in performance, putting yourself out there and coming out of their shell, and being completely confident in who they are and where they are headed in life.

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