My BB Experience as a Drumline Player

Posted on 28-Jun-2014

Report by Lance Corporal Nicholas Ng Kuan Yao of 12th Kuala Lumpur Company

June 12th, 2014

I remembered as I was a young private who went for the National Pesta 2012 at Johor. I was so amazed at the band performances that were held that time. I jealously thought to myself, “ I’d wish to have a band in our company.” Not long after, my wish came true! It was at Boot Camp 2013 that our company introduced the drumline to us, and without doubt some of my enthusiastic friends and I signed up for it. It was a decision that has changed my life as a BB Member.

Now, "what exactly is a drumline?" some of you may ask. A drumline is similar to marching band, with the exception of brass and woodwind instruments; it is solely made of percussion instruments such as snare drums and tenors. It was exciting for us because we were the first batch in the company to join the drumline team, as well as to my surprise - the very first drumline-only team in the Kuala Lumpur State Boys’ Brigade. We started off small, with only 10 members under the guidance of our instructor Mr. Helmi, who is a member of the famously known drumline team called Battery Headz. Every Friday, we would all stay back from 3.30pm to 5.00pm after school to have our practice session. At that time we had no instruments to play with as these instruments had to be shipped in from overseas. So, we used drum pads that we bought. We practiced the very basics of drumline, such as the 16th note timing and accent taps. 

Around July, our drums have finally arrived! But even then we couldn’t use those drums because they were yet to be tuned. We continued our practices with our regular equipment, hoping for the time we could finally make use of our instruments. Around August, our instructor Mr. Helmi had to part away from us to continue his studies overseas. At that time we had no instructor to teach us and drumline practices were suspended temporarily. Luckily around September, Mr. Helmi managed to get one of his friends to help to coach us, and that person was to be our new instructor Mr. Haziq. Under the supervision of Mr. Andrew, who has joined the school in June last year, we decided to call back our practice session on every Friday. That time Mr Haziq was just our part time instructor. Even then, practices were still going on and off because Mr. Haziq was not always free on Fridays. We wanted to change our practice time to Saturday after BB parade, but that gave a problem too as many members were not free at that time. The end result was that we had very little practices and some members dropped out.

In year 2014, things had changed. Those members who have dropped out have been replaced with newer Recruits and Mr. Haziq is now a full time teacher at our school. That means there won’t be any problems regarding his attendance. Also with the new coming of our new Lieutenant, Mr. Andrew Tan, who is also now the officer in-charge for drumline, we reformed and continued to have our practices every Saturday parade. We also were finally able to use our instruments. I was hoping that I would be a snare drummer, instead I was assigned to use the tenor. But to my surprise I have grown fond using it and I’m glad that I didn’t complain much about it.
It has been a fruitful year in which we were told to perform 2 times; one during our annual Sports Day and the other during our Annual Concert. We spent over a month practising for our first performance and we went through a lot to accomplish that. In the beginning of this year our school had an abbreviated timetable; anyone involved in the Sports Day practices had to come for drumline practice for about an hour or more. With that in mind our practice routine expanded to every day during Sports Practice. It was tiring for us, but it was a whole lot tougher for me as I was also in the BB March Past team.
Being an NCO, I had to juggle my time and spend time with my team to practise in both march past and drumline. Finally, Sports Day came and it meant showtime for all of us. It was a nerve-wrecking experience because it was our very first time playing in front of everyone. I told myself , “Only 5 minutes and it’ll be over.” And to everyone’s amazement, we performed amazingly and received a round of applause from everyone. It gave me new hope and new thoughts on being a drumline player, and I have never been so proud of myself and my team. 




For our second performance, we were called up to perform for our Annual Concert, in which the theme for this year was “Mulan”. We were informed that indeed we will be using Chinese drums as it matched the theme. I was very excited as I have never handled a Chinese drum before. We had about a month to master all the strokes and beats, and in no time we had perfected it. But as we all know nothing comes easy, we had bigger challenges that tested all of us.

After mastering the song we were given, the teachers in charge of concert decided to change the song into an another one. We were getting frustrated as we were only informed 2 weeks before concert. On top of that, our Chinese drums have yet to be handed over to us as we are borrowing it from another school. I sulked and complained that we weren’t given priority and importance in this concert. For about 2 weeks we had to use tables as replacement for our drums when we had our practice. Trust me; it was not as fun as you think it was. But thank God that in the end we mastered the new song and we had our Chinese drums just few days before concert. When we tried on playing the Chinese drums it was pretty much different from our usual drums, and it was definitely louder. It took us some time to get used to it but we got the hang of it. It took easily 5 times more of our strength to hit the drum, and it was very tiring especially after full rehearsal.

Concert day came and we were up on stage facing the whole crowd. We gave them our all and it was a spectacular performance, but it hasn’t ended yet. After the first concert we had another one on the following day. Yes that would mean 2 days of makeup too. We performed well and we all agreed, “all hard work pays off.” 

As we, drumline members know without hardship there is no success, even though we went through hard times, we are all still enthusiastic about drumline and I hope that we will still stay the same. What I have learnt in drumline is that to be patient and don’t give up when we face challenges, as the saying goes “Good things come to those who wait”. As more members join in we are hoping that one day we would be able to form a Brass Band and finally perform during Pesta 2016 at Selangor.

That is our dream, our 12th KL Drumline Team dream. There is more I could write about my experience as a Drumline player, but I think this will be it for now. It has been a wonderful experience with the team and I am definitely not ashamed to say “I am part of our drumline Team!”


Page Created: 28th June 2014
Last Updated: 28th June 2014