Geoff Jones didn’t start playing the snare drum for Center Grove High School’s band until he was a sophomore. And, other students had started in junior high or during their freshmen year.
For three years he scrambled to catch up with his classmates.
But now he will play with some of the best high school percussionists in the country.
Jones has been selected to the U.S. Army All-American Band. The senior is one of 125 students selected out of thousands to play during halftime at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game in January.
Three years ago, he was a soccer player with no thoughts about marching band, he said.
“(Band) gives me a lot more opportunities than any other sport or extracurricular activity,” Jones said.
He dropped soccer and cross-country once he discovered his love for playing the snare drum.
Because other band members had years of experience, Jones practiced on his own after he got home from marching band rehearsal.
“My first year, I was drumming every day for hours,” Jones said. “I had to work at it.
“I like to prove to people that I can be the best at what I do.”
A percussion teacher at Center Grove nominated Jones for the Army honor.
Jones had to send in three videos. One was a song assigned by the bowl committee, the second is an original song and the third is a video about Jones telling the Army about his hobbies and interests.
Part of the attraction of auditioning for a spot on the band is the team approach.
When Jones plays the snare drum and acts as a percussion leader, everyone must play the same, he said.
“It’s a team activity in sports,” Jones said. “In band we all have to sound perfect.”
In the upcoming weeks, Jones will make sure he is ready for the bowl game by practicing more, he said.
Marching band just ended, and winter percussion has started, which means long practices for the teenager.
But when he gets home, he will work on the seven-minute show piece the Army All-American Band gave him, he said.
The key is time management, Jones said.
“I have to go home and organize my time, when I need to do my homework and when I need to practice,” he said.
Once Jones arrives for his expenses-paid trip to San Antonio in January, he will be joined by band members from around the country. They will practice for a total of about 24 hours spread out over a few days.
The result will be a nationally televised performance.
All the work will be worth it, he said.
“I get to perform with the best people in the nation,” Jones said.
This summer he hopes to play with Drum Corps International, a national drum line that travels and competes across the country.