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Pounding drums and smashing cymbals: Port Moody high school has a new drumline

“It’s loud. It’s brash. It's exciting," says Corey Smith, who has started a drumline at PMSS and has written curriculum so other high schools can create their own program.

A Port Moody high school is bringing the sound of smashing cymbals and pounding drums to special events around the Tri-Cities.

A first for School District 43 in recent years, Port Moody Secondary School has a drumline — a marching band of musicians playing percussion instruments — that is generating interest in the school and around School District 43.

In its inaugural year, the Port Moody Blues drumline placed third in the highest class of provincial competition.

With a blend of drums, xylophone, vibraphone, a marimba, a piano and some choreography, the 21-student Port Moody Blues drumline wowed the judges while playing a medley of Blue and Rhapsody in Blue.

"The students are working really hard,” said music teacher Corey Smith who founded the group and is seeing it take off in popularity. (To see the Port Moody Blues Drumline in action, watch their YouTube video here.)

Last week, the School District 43 board of education approved a drumline credit course for Grade 11 students for September with the goal of seeing drumlines in other high schools across the district.

Smith, who wrote the curriculum, said students will benefit from learning choreography and music, a blend of skills not always seen in traditional arts courses.

And he’d like to see drumlines start up across the district.

“It’s loud. It’s brash. It's exciting. It’s everything about music that kids like,” said Smith.

“It’s like rock and roll and you’ve got to have classical [music knowledge] to do it.”

Smith, who started a similar program at a West Vancouver private school before moving to PMSS, said drumlines also bring students together.

Typically arts students and athletes don’t hang around together, but a drumline can be a shared experienced when the marching band shows up at a sporting event, for example.

“It’s cool,” said Smith.

They’re more common in the U.S., where they generate spirit and excitement at high school and college football games.

Smith said he became interested in the phenomenon watching marching bands in the Rose Bowl parade in California where his granddad taught music.

Smith also joined a drumline at his Chilliwack high school and believes it could be a good addition to local high schools. “It’s a big sport in the States. It’s starting to make its way up into Canada.”

Meanwhile, Smith is looking forward to starting the Drumline 11 course next fall.

Thanks to the support of Yamaha, PMSS has a selection of drums, including six snares and five bases, and interest has grown among students to the point where the class is already full.

An additional club may be started to accommodate younger students, said Smith.

Seeing the local interest grow in drumline has been gratifying for Smith who started a drumline program at Collingwood in West Vancouver and wanted to bring it home to his own community by teaching it here.

The PMSS drumline has already performed at the Special Olympics 3 on 3 basketball tournament and more public performances are likely in the future.

“I wanted to do this in Port Moody because I saw what a benefit it was to the school,” he said.