Super Bowl – Becoming America’s Drumline

ceelodrumline

As I’m sure you’re aware, Super Bowl XLVI was played in Indianapolis last weekend. The New York Giants battled the New England Patriots for the Lombardi trophy. Amid all the expensive commercials and the chips and dips, the Patriots headed into the half with a slim 10-9 lead over the Giants.

Then America tuned in collectively for the highly touted halftime show: Madonna.

Madge entered the stadium carried by legions of gladiators. She proceeded to “Vogue” and get into the “Music” with LMFAO and “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj joined the Material Girl for "Give Me All Your Luvin'."

But what really got this band geek’s attention was her transition into “Open Your Heart.” Is that…a DRUMLINE led by drum major Cee Lo Green?

Slide4Twitter lit up with excitement. Who WERE those performers? We caught up with Chad Kohler, Fishers High School percussion instructor and president of the Indiana Percussion Association, and student Daniel Bailey of Fishers H.S. in Indiana, to find out and give us a behind-the-scenes look at how this spectacle came to be.

“It was Madonna’s idea to have the drumline perform for halftime,” Chad said. “Originally she wanted us lowered from the ceiling as stated on 60 Minutes. The schools were contacted and asked to select their top performers on the instruments represented.”

So how do you even begin to prepare for a performance like this, with celebrities and so many moving parts? “We rehearsed two weeks before the gig,” Chad reported. “The first rehearsals were at Center Grove High School with the lead choreographers from Blast. Rehearsals were led by directors from Center Grove, Fishers, Avon and choreographers from Blast and Touchdown Entertainment. The second week we rehearsed at Lucas Oil both in the parking lot and in the stadium. It was in this week that Madonna’s choreographers came out to check on things and alter a few moves here and there.… At one point on Thursday before the gig Madonna walked around and inspected the drumline’s, gladiators’ and choirs’ costumes and appearance.”

Student performer Daniel Bailey reported that also at the rehearsals were Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., and LMFAO. He said the rehearsals were run by the choreographers: “Madonna actually worked with directly with them a couple of times.”

Surrounded by all that celebrity, it’s a wonder they didn’t become too star struck. Daniel got to meet Madonna and members of LMFAO. He really felt that they were totally normal people, though the performers weren't allowed any photos or autographs.

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“We came face to face with the celebs in the corridors at Lucas Oil as we were preparing for dress rehearsals,” Chad recalls. “The best part was going into the tunnel right before the actual performance when all the stage crew, choir, drumline and celebs were rooting each other on and giving high fives.”

As one might imagine, the performers and instructors had to keep a tight lid on things before the show. Daniel’s mom Carol Bailey said, “They had 5 or 6 separate agreements they had to sign! It was very hard to obey the orders...we couldn't even tell anyone we were involved for several weeks!”

Keeping quiet wasn’t as tough for instructor Chad Kohler. “Confidentiality was not hard, as we felt privileged to have secret information about the performance. It was hard to not take pictures or videos and send to my family, though,” he smiled.

What was the experience like for the parents of the performers? Carol said, “Parents got to chaperone during rehearsals at Lucas. It was incredibly exciting, but I think we were actually more excited to see our kids up there on stage than to see the actual celebrities! We had to sign all of the agreements just to get into the arena too. It was a very well organized process. [It was] kind of fun to watch the celebrities during rehearsal...[it] makes them seem more real!”

Madonna and Drum Line

This is really just one more example of how far music education can take you. “If they hadn't been members of the drumline, they would never have had this opportunity,” Carol said. “I heard comments from the costume staff about how organized and well behaved the kids were compared to some adults. I know that comes from their marching band experience!”

Chad chimes in, “Experience prepared us for this as our ensemble was chosen as one of the top ensembles in the state and because of our reputation, work ethic, and dedication, we were able to deliver. We felt completely confident in our ability to take instruction from great choreographers and the Touchdown Entertainment crew.”

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All good things must come to an end. The bright lights of halftime faded, and, along with them, their fifteen minutes of fame. While the New England Patriots ultimately let the game slip through their hands, the same cannot be said of these music educators, student performers and their families. As Chad Kohler reminisced, “I'll remember this for the rest of my life.”

Check out the full show below (the drumline enters at 8:47):

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