When Martin Rhees took over as director of the Hoover High School marching band five years ago, he learned the group’s drums had been purchased several years before, but they arrived without cases to protect them.
Ten years of traveling to football games has taken a toll on the drums, which often were transported in the lower compartment of buses to away games.
“They took a beating,” Rhees said.
On Thursday, after the marching band practiced for three hours on the school’s field, Rhees led band members to the school’s auditorium to unveil what was behind the closed stage curtain — a new set of drums.
While the band members knew about the drums’ arrival, they thought they would be a gold “fade” color that Rhees had mentioned once to throw them off.
When Rhees opened the curtain, though, the entire marching band burst into cheers when they saw the drums’ wood was stained purple to match their uniforms and the instruments featured the school’s emblem.
There were six bass drums, seven snares and four tenor drums as well as two new drum kits, worth a total of about $50,000.
When they walked up on stage, many band members broke down in tearful disbelief and hugged each other in celebration.
Freshman Anna Sanvictores, who plays the snare, cried with joy.
“Ever since we heard these were coming, we’ve been pumped,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
Senior Samantha Yen, who also plays the snare, said she was overjoyed.
“This is my fourth year in marching band and this is a culmination of all the things I’ve done here,” she said. “I’m still trying to take it in.”
Fundraising for new drums seemed nearly impossible when Rhees decided the percussion instruments had to be replaced. So for the first time, Rhees approached Johnny Harrison, vice president and general manager of Lexus of Glendale, for help.
Harrison has a reputation among Glendale educators for routinely sponsoring programs that help pay for students’ extracurricular activities.
For the past two years, he has provided Glendale Unified students with car-wash tickets to sell for $15 each. The students kept 100% of the profit, and sent the buyer to Harrison’s dealership for a car wash. Last year at Glendale High, many students paid for their prom tickets through car-wash fundraising.
When Rhees approached Harrison last January about purchasing new drums, Harrison said, “Let’s sit back and put together a wish list.”
That list turned into the set of colorful drums made by Tama that Hoover students will now play.
“They are the best drums on the planet,” Rhees said. “We have the best drums in the world.”
Harrison said the new drums are about more than high-school pride.
“It’s not just the image of Hoover. When they go out, they’re representing Glendale,” Harrison said, adding that the community’s involvement in schools is valuable.
“If you’ve got a passion for [marching band]… it doesn’t make a difference if it’s this or drama or anything else. We’ve got to support that,” he said. “If we can support that, they can do many great things just as human beings on the planet.”
For the drums’ protection in the future, Harrison also pitched in cases for each of them.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.