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'Drumline' program teaches skills, productive living

Children at McDonough's Shiloh Baptist Church are taking advantage of an opportunity to develop skills in music, playing drums. Instructors hope they can help them in other areas of life, too.

The church, located at 262 Macon St., has a drumline program for youngsters 16 and under. It was launched last July twin brothers, Pharroll Floyd and Darroll Floyd, who were part of the popular, feature-length movie entitled, "Drumline." The brothers worked as consultants for the 2001 movie, starring Nick Cannon and Orlando Jones.

Pharroll Floyd said he and Darroll performed drum-cadence sequences for the movie.

"It set up an opportunity for us to express our style of performing with the drums," he said.

At Shiloh Baptist, the drumline endeavor is designed to teach the fundamentals of drumming, and to instill discipline within the young participants. The twins have returned to the church in which they grew up, to use the skills they gained, when each majored in percussion music at Alabama State University, Pharroll Floyd said.

"While we were there, we had the opportunity to learn to be in a band," he explained. "In our second year, we started teaching drumline at different schools."

Twenty-five kids in the drumline program performed during a fund-raising church benefit on Jan. 30, he said.

"The purpose of the performance was to introduce drumline to the county, and to raise money to buy drums for the church," he said. "What I have seen is the desire, the excitement in a kid's life, when they learn how to play the drums."

Caleb Beach, 10, of McDonough, has been a member of the drumline since it began last July. The Tussahaw Elementary School fourth-grader is one example of what the Floyd brothers, and the church's pastor, the Rev. Edward W. Lee, Sr., hope the group will accomplish. Beach said he enjoys the drumline, and credits the Floyd twins for helping him to improve his skills.

"I already have drums at home, but they taught me how to play much better," said Beach. "They're very patient."

Joshua Pickett, 8, of Hampton, is another testament to the influence of the twin brothers. The Strong Rock Christian School second-grader said the Floyds have emphasized to him, and his fellow drumline participants, the importance of obeying authority. "We're supposed to do what they say, like you do with your mom and dad," Pickett said. "That's one of God's commandments."

Rev. Lee, who has been the pastor at Shiloh Baptist for 37 years, said he was impressed the talents of the drumline members. He has seen the group grow from nine, to 25 drummers. "What was most significant for me ... was to see not only the continued growth of those original nine, and the leadership role that they brought to the whole drumline setting, but the additional kids, who had been with them only since mid-December," the pastor said.

Lee said that youngsters at his church benefit from the drumline program in ways which can carry them into adulthood. "I think the drumline proves to them that they have the mental capacity to learn ... and to do some things that are very professional in an expert way," Lee said. "The basis for that kind of an experience is also setting them up ... to major in music, in the area of drumming, but also to take a look at science, technology, medicine — all of those professional career areas that normally, kids growing up in our community, would not think of as a career path.

"The earlier we can give them an experience of success, ... I think it opens up all kinds of future alternatives for what they can grow up and be," he added.

Youngsters in drumline learn not only about music, but about how to be productive, respectful members of society. "If their grades are slipping, or they do not obey their parents, they cannot perform," Pharroll Floyd declared. "It keeps the kids out of trouble. It teaches them discipline. It teaches them how to be creative, and how to work with other people."

Darroll Floyd said he and his brother are now concentrating on reaching other young people with their passion for drumline music. "The drumline is going to be involved more in the Henry community," he said. "We're teaching things that they can take through the rest of their life ... to be a productive member in the community, [and] a productive member of the church."