Education

Lincoln High drumline plays in front of record crowd at Seahawks game

Editors note: This story has been updated with a video from Sunday’s performance in Seattle. Check it out above.

Originally published 7 a.m., Friday, Nov. 18

Lincoln High School band teacher Peter Briggs stressed technique as he worked with his drumline class Wednesday afternoon.

Smiling technique.

“Be aware of your facial expressions,” Briggs said. “Pretend that you’re in front of 60,000 people and you’re excited to be there.”

Come Sunday, they will be.

The Lincoln drumline will perform at the Seattle Seahawks’ home game against the Philadelphia Eagles, along with eight other regional high schools. They’ll take the field with Blue Thunder, the Seahawks’ official band.

“We were so excited,” said senior snare drummer and drumline captain Tram-Anh Nguyen, 17. “Our biggest audience before was just a couple hundred kids. It’s just amazing.”

Bass drummer Alicia Dorman, 16, was less understated about how excited she was when she found out she was going to the Seahawks game.

“I was jumping up and down screaming,” the junior said. “I love the Seahawks. I’m a big fan of them. There weren’t really words coming out of my mouth.”

For Briggs, 37, this is just another achievement in his nine years at Lincoln. (His office has plenty of performance trophies in the window and Central Washington University swag on the walls.)

When he took over there in 2008, he was the band teacher, the orchestra teacher and the choir teacher, with maybe 60 students combined.

The drumline came a few months later, when one of his students suggested it. Drums had to be borrowed from Wilson High School.

“We had nothing,” Briggs said.

Now, Lincoln’s music program has hundreds of kids and three teachers. Briggs now teaches band, piano and drumline.

The varsity drumline class — the kids getting to go to Seattle this weekend for the game — is 24 students strong.

Briggs collaborates with his students for much of his class, from appointing Nguyen as student leader to taking suggestions for their routines. He makes a point of trying to be positive with everything he says, even if it’s a critique.

Briggs said he never expected the Seahawks to come to him and ask the drumline to play for their game, even though Blue Thunder performs at Lincoln’s annual drumline contest (set for March 11 next year).

“I feel really humbled and excited,” Briggs said.

But before the big game, the Lincoln drumline had to get back to the grind.

Literally, in the case of sophomore cymbalist Joseph Simpson, 15, who wasn’t getting into his dance motions quite enthusiastically enough in Wednesday’s practice.

“Joseph!” Briggs said after stopping the group during their routine. “You’ve got to grind better.”

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker

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