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Youthful Detroit Drumline Prepares for Alabama Performance

August 05, 2016, 1:36 PM by  J. Gabriel Ware

The International Community Drumline in Detroit, comprised of youths 7 to 14, is preparing for its first out-of-state performance. At Miles College in Fairfield, Ala., it will perform at an Oct. 8 homecoming football game. 

Co-founder Sharon Allen, a retired Detroit Public Schools instructor and former director of the Cass Technical High School marching band, says the group is invited by Willie Snipes Jr., the college's bands director. 

Co-founder Sharon Allen hopes to double the 10-member band's size by fall.


The band began last October as an after-school program at Burton International Academy in Detroit under the leadership of Allen and Samuel Webster. They expanded it into a community-wide drumline because they felt that band programs in DPS were dying..

“The plug is being pulled on funding for a lot of extracurricular activities such as art and music programs in our schools,” Allen says. “That’s why we are opening our youth drumline for anyone who has a desire to play.”

Carl Howard, 8, and his 7-year-old brother Cameron joined in March.  Carl plays tenor drum.

“It’s fun and challenging,” Carl said. “I’m excited to perform at Miles College. I want to go to college, and I found out that I can get scholarships for knowing how to play the drums.”

This year, the group has already performed at the American Heart Walk on Belle Isle and at the Monroe Summer Parade, according to the drumline’s website.

But Allen says the show at Miles College will be the drumline’s biggest challenge yet, and the drumline members are currently in a three-week long band camp where they are practicing Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sharpen their skills.

“I am impressed at their growth,” Allen says.

“Being a part of the band is giving our youth discipline, manners and responsibility,” Allen says. “being in the band also aids in their cognitive development and is giving them an outlet to showcase their talent.”

Right now the drumline has 10 members, and Allen hopes to add at least 10 members by fall.

The band hopes to raise $5,000 to help offset expenses for the trip to Miles College. Two days a month, the drumline members solicit donations on the street corners in Detroit and has set up an account on Fundly.com.

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