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'Drumline' cadence writers motivate young musicians

Ten-year-old Caleb Beach is fascinated with percussion instruments.

A fourth-grader at Tussahaw Elementary School in rural McDonough, Caleb Beach has not missed a session since he started taking lessons last summer, said his mother, Barbara Beach.

He is one of 18 members of the Shiloh Baptist Church Drumline, ranging in age from 2, to 16. All of them began as novice players, said Pharroll Floyd, an instructor for the group.

Floyd, and his twin brother, Darroll Floyd, created the percussion group last summer, as a way to introduce young children to music, and help them develop leadership skills.

The brothers grew up in the church and continue to play in the church's band. Barbara Beach said her son delighted in hearing the band each Sunday. "He would watch them on Sunday morning," said the mother. "He would just watch them and be totally amazed. And when they announced the group was forming, he said to me, ‘Mom, I want to play just like them.'"

The 47-year-old brothers said the percussion group has made significant progress over the past seven months, meeting twice weekly, leading up to its first public performance. "These kids did not know how to hold sticks, and we brought them from individuals, to a team," said Darroll Floyd.

The church's drumline is scheduled to perform Jan. 30, at 3 p.m., at Shiloh Baptist Church, 262 Macon St., in McDonough. Darroll Floyd said the young percussionists will be featured, along with the Capital City Drumline, a professional, Atlanta-based group.

Pharroll Floyd recalled the brothers' first experience with music, attending football games at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala., with their parents, who are alumni of the school. He said the university's band, known as The Marching Hornets, put on performances that inspired the brothers and motivated them to pursue music.

The Floyd brothers played musical instruments (Pharroll, on trumpet, and Darroll, on saxophone) in their middle and high school bands in the late 1970s, before they switched to playing percussion instruments in high school.

Both graduated from Henry County High School in 1981. They later enrolled at Alabama State, and graduated in 1987, with bachelor's degrees in Percussion Performance.

The duo has been performing and teaching percussion since garnering some global fame as percussionists. They have taught percussion at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, according to Darroll Floyd. He said they have performed around the world, including in a 28-city tour in Japan with the S.O.S. Band. They said they also helped write cadences for the movie, "Drumline."

In 1989, they formed a business called Double Double Vision — "that's two people with one vision," said Darroll Floyd. Double Double Vision, he added, receives corporate sponsorship from Sabian Cymbals, but earns 90 percent of its own revenue — half through performances, and half through teaching.

Pharroll Floyd said he and his brother grew up in a home of educators, who appreciated music. Their father, Samuel Floyd, was the principal of Stockbridge High School from 1984, to 1987, and their mother, Dr. Cecelia Floyd, retired as an educator from Henry County Schools.

"Kids love to play the drums," said Pharroll Floyd, describing the motivation behind forming the drumline at the brothers' childhood church. "Our first toy was a drum ... and we wanted to give back to where we started.

"It's a blessing for us to be able to come back and teach kids to play the drums,' he continued. "We have changed lives teaching kids how to play drums.

"Our long-term goal is to educate and motivate," he said. "And let people know that you don't have to come from Atlanta or California to succeed. We came from rural ... McDonough. With hard work and dedication, you can achieve your goals."