Marching to a Different Beat: Latin Percussion to Join TBDBITL on Saturday

November 7, 2019
Latin Percussion players rehearse for Saturday's Santana halftime show

This Saturday, The Ohio State University Marching Band will be marching to the beat of some different drums.

As part of its “The Music of Santana” halftime show, TBDBITL will be joined by more than a dozen students from the School of Music playing Latin percussion instruments including congas, bongos, timbales, shakers and güiros.

The extra percussion will add authenticity to a show honoring the music of Mexican-American rock legend Carlos Santana.

“Santana is such an amazing guitar player, but the one thing that always sticks out in his music is his Latin percussion,” said Mark Reynolds, TBDBITL’s percussion instructor. “Latin percussion gives his music that next layer that you don’t usually get in rock music.”

School of Music students ranging from freshmen to doctoral candidates will be taking part in the halftime show. All of them have percussion as the focus of their degrees, be it performance or education. That baseline percussion experience will help with the basics of the show, but Saturday will be many of the students’ first time using their hands instead of drumsticks to play.

Leading the Latin percussion group is Joe Krygier, a guest instructor with expertise in world percussion. When Krygier was approached with the idea of the collaboration, he jumped at the chance to expose the Ohio Stadium crowd to sounds they don’t normally hear from TBDBITL.

For the last few weeks, Krygier has been meeting with the students to rehearse for the show. While Reynolds gave Krygier a rough skeleton for what he wanted for the Latin percussion, Krygier and the students have been free to improvise and play what feels right. They’ve gone back to the original Santana recordings and compared it to the marching band’s arrangement to find just the right notes for Latin percussion during the show.

Despite the fact that Saturday will be the largest audience of their lives, Krygier is not worried about his students’ nerves.

“They could be playing for two people or 100,000, and it’s a performance, a gig,” Krygier said. “That’s what they’re trained to do. The number of the audience, I don’t think it really matters to them other than the energy they’re going to get from the crowd.”

Just one member of the ensemble will have experience performing on that football field for a packed house. Justin Monroe, who normally plays tenor drums with the marching band, will be playing timbales with the Latin percussion group on Saturday instead.

Monroe said he has some experience with timbales in the past, and the timbales are somewhat similar to his tenors in that there are multiple drums. The biggest difference for Monroe will be shorter sticks for the timbales and — since the Latin percussion will be wired for sound — knowing to play softer than he would on the tenors. Either way, he’s excited to get the chance to play something unique for Buckeyes fans.

“I’m really glad for the opportunity because not a lot of Latin percussion gets out there,” Monroe said. “We’ve been going through the music and trying to figure out how we should tackle the challenges associated with it.”

The added sound should make for a special halftime performance during the Maryland game. Fans at Ohio Stadium should be prepared to experience TBDBITL like they never have before.

“The Latin percussion is going to be a huge part of the feel and the groove, and it’s going to be totally different than anything we’ve done since I’ve been here in the last six years,” Reynolds said.