‘Sky’s the limit’ for Richmond senior musician

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Angelis Hernandez, 16, is the battery captain for the Richmond Raiders Marching Band drum line and was recruited to be a member of Carolina Gold.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Angelis Hernandez, 16, is the battery captain for the Richmond Raiders Marching Band drum line and was recruited to be a member of Carolina Gold.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Video – Richmond Raiders Color Guard
* Video – Richmond Raiders Percussion (pit)

ROCKINGHAM — Cameron McDonald loves music.

The Richmond County Ninth Grade Academy ninth-grader loves it so much, in fact, he happily puts aside other distractions to attend percussion camp as part of the Richmond Raiders Marching Band. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day this week, McDonald works under the supervision of Angelis Hernandez, a 16-year-old senior, to work towards a better drum line.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” said McDonald, a first-year snare drummer. “I give up video games and other stuff to play.”

And McDonald is bound to get better — quickly — thanks to the tutelage of Hernandez, a fellow drummer and drum line battery captain.

Hernandez watches both McDonald and Cameron Mabe on snare drums, then shifts his attention to the four bass drummers. His approach is against what one might expect of a typical 16-year-old; Hernandez is outgoing and not afraid to stand out in a crowd. He wants the drummers to put down their drumsticks and call out the cadence with their voice. Only one does so, half-heartedly, as Hernandez goes full bore. A second time, a couple join in with a little more spirit.

“You two are on it, you two are kinda shaky,” Hernandez offers with a quiet confidence. “Don’t be shy!”

In other words, Hernandez conveys and demonstrates, don’t let others who might be watching have an adverse impact on perfecting your craft. In short, have fun — and have more fun by being better at what you do.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Angelis Hernandez assists Cameron Mabe, left, and Cameron McDonald on the snare drums Wednesday during percussion camp at Richmond Senior High School.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Angelis Hernandez assists Cameron Mabe, left, and Cameron McDonald on the snare drums Wednesday during percussion camp at Richmond Senior High School.

Hernandez is taking his fun to a new level after being recruited to the Carolina Gold Drum & Bugle Corps. Each weekend, Hernandez — who aspires to study music education or music performance at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke beginning a year from now — offers himself up for critique from those who know how to do it better.

It’s all in an effort to get better at his craft. This weekend, Hernandez will travel to Atlanta and perform in the Georgia Dome. It’s not a competition, he said. It’s a critique.

“It’s like a professional marching band. Basically, it’s like this,” Hernandez motions to his current surroundings of the Richmond Senior High School band room. “But a lot harder, and a lot more people — a bunch of dedicated people.”

Hernandez began his music career in the seventh grade after trading in his soccer cleats.

The decision, he said, “changed my life.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Helping younger students like McDonald and Cameron Mabe on the snare drums don’t necessarily make Hernandez a better drummer. But they do make him a better teacher.

“That might be what I want to do,”  Hernandez said. “It helps me learn how to teach” and, by extension, increases his skill level.

Mike Ward, band director, noted that Hernandez is “very passionate.”

His interest, Ward said, can take him places. His membership in Carolina Gold “makes him aware of what opportunities will be waiting for him. It opens his eyes to all the possibilities.”

Ward said he and band parent volunteers, along with the band members themselves, are “very fortunate that he’s still with us to share his talent. Ever since he’s been up here, he’s always been willing to learn. The sky’s the limit for him. It wouldn’t surprise me if I saw Angelis marching a drum corps in a year or two.”

There are two drum corps levels. DCA, or Drum Corps Associates, is what Hernandez is a part of now. The next step is DCI, or Drum Corps International — “marching music’s major league.”

“I can see I’m reaching for that” top level, Ward said.

Notes from the band room

* The minicamp for brass and woodwinds is set for next week, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

* Full band camp begins Monday, Aug. 4 and runs each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of the month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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