Student-led effort and an anonymous donation make Laker Drumline a reality

Next performance set for Monday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

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Drummers of all skill levels are brought together to create the Laker Drumline.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — A middle school daydream became reality for Evan Thomas when his band director, Tim Siewert, announced there would be a drumline at Detroit Lakes High School.

Thomas and other classmates had presented the idea to Siewert when they entered the halls of the high school as freshmen and were persistent in their quest as sophomores and juniors. As Thomas looked forward to his senior year, he was told a Laker Drumline may happen.

Siewert gauged student interest and brought the idea to the administration, which was met with support. Students were then informed of the potential opportunity with a September 2022 start date. Enough students signed up to make the program a go, but first, drums were needed.

“We were able to receive an anonymous donation to purchase all new drums and equipment for the Laker Drumline,” Siewert said. “Without that donation, we would not be able to be doing what we're doing right now. We are very appreciative of that donor!”

In its inaugural year, the Laker Drumline welcomed 20 students. Of the 20, five had drumming experience, such as Thomas, who began his percussion studies in middle school.


Evan Thomas and Tèa Ganich are two of the 20 students in the Detroit Lakes High School Laker Drumline. The program is in its inaugural year.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The other musicians that joined the drumline played other instruments in the school’s concert band, such as Tèa Ganich.

The daughter of Angela and Trevor Ganich also joined band in middle school, but picked the alto saxophone. The sophomore learned about the drumline during band practice last year. Her older sister was signing up, and Ganich thought joining the class would provide a fun bonding experience for the two.

While there is a major learning curve when switching from saxophone to percussion, Ganich said her past musical experience helped when it came to reading music.

“Being in the drumline has also improved my rhythm and coordination (when playing alto saxophone),” she added.

Thomas, who has played percussion since middle school, has also seen growth in his skills since joining the drumline.

“It’s taught me little odds and ends,” he said. “It’s more on the composition side; small aspects like one hand playing louder than the other.”

As the Laker Drumline learned percussion at their different levels, the senior members were given the opportunity to gain a new perspective at the front of the class. The son of April and David Thomas said he and classmate Jack Clark have led class lessons a few times. From that experience, Thomas was left immensely impressed with their director’s ability to break down lessons into simple terms, and to strip away the flare and accents that are second nature to more seasoned percussionists. While making teaching look easy, Thomas added Siewert also creates a fun atmosphere to learn, which only fed his passion for percussion.

Ganich concurred, adding the teacher is also very patient. Then, without missing a beat, she bounced a compliment to the senior leaders. She said when she is playing and the tempo gets murky, a simple glance at one of the drumline student leaders and she is back on beat.


“They are always in tempo,” she said. “They are great role models and leaders.”

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The Laker Drumline will perform on Monday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Lakeshirts Fieldhouse at the high school. Admission is free.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

After a few weeks of practice, the drumline gave their first performance during the school’s homecoming coronation. The follow-up show was during the football team’s homecoming halftime show.

Thomas recalled looking out into the crowd and seeing classmates smiling and cheering as they played. He said the fun crowd atmosphere added to the fun the drumline had as well.

What does the future Laker Drumline look like? While Thomas hopes movement and formations are eventually added, Siewert is taking the class “one performance at a time.”

“It will evolve into whatever the students want it to be,” he said. “It's their group to make what they want of it, just like our bands.”

The Laker Drumline will be performing at the fall band concert on Monday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Lakeshirts Fieldhouse at the high school. Admission is free; all are welcome to attend. Other future performances will include Laker sporting events, possibly the Detroit Lakes PolarFest and others.

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The Laker Drumline started its first year with 20 students, of which only five had percussion experience. A few weeks after they began practicing they gave their first performance during homecoming coronation, the parade and during the football game's halftime show.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

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