Dimaano’s got the beat, chops and rolls

When drum captain senior Andrei Dimaano describes the usual repetitions of drumline, the cadence flows out of his hands in the form of four quick snaps — snap, snap, snap, snap. Then, he switches gears. Suddenly, he’s tapping the fourth note of the sixteenth partial — snap thump, snap thump, snap thump. His hands and feet fall into synchronization, ascending into their own vibrant composition of rhythm.

As drum captain at Walnut High School, Dimaano works closely with both the instructors and the drummers, giving his input on concert season pieces and resolving any conflicts that arise. During marching season, he also works with the snare drummers to fine-tune their collective sound.

“The cool thing about being a teacher is that some days you get to mentor, guide, support and help [the drummers] realize their individual and collective potentials, but most days they’re teaching you about yourself. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year, especially about being able to cooperate with others and building interpersonal relationships in order to create a better sound,” Dimaano said.

Dimaano spends countless hours every week planning practice sessions to target specific skill sets of drumming. Furthermore, in order to create sets for drumline to perform during pep rallies, Dimaano draws inspiration from independent percussion groups on Instagram and YouTube.

“My philosophy with pep rallies is that it’s for the people and not really for ourselves,” Dimaano said. “It’s definitely exhilarating because I remember after one of my performances, a guy came up to me and said ‘Hey, aren’t you that drummer that played the solo,’ and that line was the culminating experience for me. It was so heartwarming, getting recognition for all the hours spent. I think it’s really great to be able to inspire other people,” Dimaano said.

Dimaano didn’t always have rhythm at his fingertips. In fact, as a sixth grader, he had almost chosen art as his elective. A medley of familial encouragement and coincidence started Dimaano on his journey to a seven-year devotion to percussion, and then, in seventh grade, Dimaano was admitted into the wind ensemble band – the most advanced group at South Pointe Middle School.

“I actually didn’t consider myself worthy of being able to be in that group. I was messing around [with different instruments], but my teacher saw it, and she put me in,” Dimaano said. “There was the feeling of having someone believe in you and knowing that it was something you have to satisfy.”

As a member of the wind ensemble, Dimaano traveled to Chicago Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York to perform. These experiences helped form Dimaano’s idea of what it was like to be a percussionist.

“I was always around people who inspired me; they were way better than me, and I wanted to be like them because they were so passionate about [percussion]. It made the experience really enjoyable. That’s why I try to pass that on to people,” Dimaano said.

This technical prowess was hard won. In his sophomore year, Dimaano tore a ligament in his finger from faulty technique. Despite doctor’s orders to cease usage of that hand, Dimaano’s passion for drumming didn’t allow him to stop. He played throughout the entire month he was injured.

“That’s why I try to teach them the correct technique. A lot of people don’t realize the physical demands of performing arts. The cool thing is that when they [perform], it seems physically effortless,” Dimaano said.

Dimaano also developed his technical skills as a four-time member of the All Southern Honor Band, a prestigious band that plays together once a year. Although unsure about his plans for the future, Dimaano plans to continue playing drums in his free time and possibly join a drumline college group.

“At first it was my identity, and so, whenever I was feeling down, I would always turn to drumming. Now, it’s a social experience of being with people I love. I want to be around people who are passionate in what they do. I’m in love with the process and how it has shaped me as a person,” Dimaano said. “[Graduating’s] definitely bittersweet for me, and there’s a lot of regret that comes with it as well. But there’s also this sense of relief, of passing down everything I’ve learned to everyone.”

By Nicole Chiang, Copy editor-in-chief
Photo by Issac Le