Why does your School need a Drumline?

I had the great opportunity recently to sit down with Mark Spence from Mackillop College in Port Macquarie NSW to talk all things Drumline at the Queensland Catholic Schools and Colleges Music Festival.

So when is the best time to start a Drumline at your School?


Do you need some teacher-speak ammunition to help get funding towards getting your drumline equipped and off the ground?

REPEAT AFTER ME: student outcomes, equality, opportunity

Having a drumline in a school setting can offer numerous benefits that contribute to improving student outcomes in various aspects of their education and personal development. Here are several reasons why a school might benefit from having a drumline:

  • Community Building: A drumline provides an opportunity for students to come together as a group, fostering a sense of community and teamwork. Through rehearsals and performances, students learn to collaborate, communicate, and support one another, which can lead to stronger relationships among peers.
  • Musical Skills Development: Participating in a drumline allows students to develop their musical abilities, including rhythm, timing, coordination, and listening skills. These skills are not only valuable for music performance but also have cognitive benefits that can enhance academic performance in areas such as mathematics and language arts.
  • Creativity and Self-Expression: Drumline performances often involve elements of creativity and self-expression, as students have the opportunity to contribute their ideas to the music and choreography. Encouraging creativity fosters innovation and critical thinking skills, which are essential for success in various academic and professional endeavors.
  • Performance Opportunities: Being part of a drumline provides students with opportunities to showcase their talents and accomplishments through performances at school events, competitions, and community gatherings. Performing in front of an audience can boost students' confidence and self-esteem, helping them develop important presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Sense of Achievement: Mastering complex rhythms and choreography in a drumline requires perseverance and dedication. As students progress and improve their skills, they experience a sense of achievement and pride in their accomplishments, which can motivate them to set and achieve goals in other areas of their lives.

 Now you have been granted some Funds to buy some Drums. What should I Buy?

Ideally you should buy the best you can afford. If given the choice I personally think you should by fewer items of higher quality rather than large quantities of inferior quality. Having said that, the single most important thing is just getting started in any capacity. Get their hands moving, get them vibing, get an identity happening. Anything is literally better than nothing. 

PEARL MARCHING DRUMS  Please note, PEARL Marching Drums are Special order and can take between 6-9 months to land in Australia. Please contact Luc Travers at Colemans Music for an ETA. 

Personally, my minimum numbers would be 3 snares, 2 tenors, and 5 basses, but you do you. I would always aim for 5 basses (that has always been one of the hills I will die on) and then any number of snares or tenors. We can consider cymbals later. 

HOT TIP #1: Don’t fret if you have to buy budget freindly gear at first. Not only can you upgrade later but if you are really creative you can repurpose some of these drums for use within the line later or else use them for other purposes that can help feed into your line.

DXP Marching drums are usually readily available for purchase with minimum wait times allowing you to get started straight away with your new program. 

HOT TIP #2: if you DO have the good fortune of getting some sweet top-quality gear (either from the get-go or else in round 2 or 3 of the purchasing spree), please be aware that the stock drumheads that come with your drums are functionally WORTHLESS. Repeat after me: WORTHLESS. GARBAGE. TRASH. WORTHLESS!!!!

EVANS Marching Drumheads  Please note, Evans Marching Drumheads are sometimes Special order and can take between 8-10 weeks to land in Australia. Please contact Luc Travers at Colemans Music for an ETA. 

For every professional grade drum you purchase you need to add $200-400 each PER INSTRUMENT for drumhead upgrades. Trust me: those stock drumheads are trash.

Ok, you’ve got drums, you’ve got some students who are keen to give this a Try…now what?


For us, I’ve sort of developed a “season” that operates year-round. It all kind of begins and ends with the Eisteddfod/QCMF, and it looks like this:


Set the line and begin working on basic playing and marching fundamentals


Tweak the line (making line-up changes as needed) and continue hammering the fundamentals.

Ideally your line should have your exercise book and any cadences or perpetual numbers learned by the end of the term. If you’re really ahead of schedule you can begin working on music and/or drill of your show for the competition season.


It’s time to start putting your show together. Music and drill should be well under way. We aim for about 20-30 seconds of music every two-three weeks, usually 1 week to put it on and then the following 1 or 2 weeks to see if it’s actually going to work and if so cleaning it up and planning for the next section.


If you’re like us you have ANZAC Day as your big local public showing, so we use this as the start of our “performance season”. We keep tweaking (or finishing) the show as needed, but the whole idea is to “practice performance” so the students are well equiped to deal with a variety of playing situations and prepare them for any adversity they might face.


For us, we only have, at best, 2 competitions: The National Eisteddfod and now, thankfully, QCMF.

Colemans Music has a great range of Mallets and Sticks available from PROMARK. 

Massive Thanks to Mark Spence for taking the time to have a chat. If you would like to reach out to Mark with any questions you may have about getting your program started feel free to contact him here.

If you would like a Quote on some new Marching Drums, please feel free to contact Luc Here . Please note that with PEARL Marching Drums that Carriers are an extra charge and you will need the right carrier for particular drums. Please feel free to contact me for advice.