LEMONT – After the Lemont High School Marching Band has finished its fall season, percussionist Steven Brija marches to the beat of a different group of drums.
Brija is a member of the Pioneer Indoor Percussion, a competitive marching percussion ensemble based in Romeoville.
The group won second place in the Winter Guard International’s Percussion Open Finals on April 12 in Dayton, Ohio.
This is Brija’s second year with Pioneer Indoor. He played the tenor drums this year after playing the cymbals last year.
Brija said Lemont High School used to have a similar percussion program but it was cut a couple of years ago.
He said he was looking for another percussion group to join and was familiar with Pioneer Indoor through people who worked with the percussionists at the school.
Brija, who plans on majoring in music in college, said it has been a good experience playing the ensemble, made up of high school and college students.
“It’s a kind of opportunity you don’t get in high school because you get to work with different instructors,” he said.
Lemont High School band director Terry Redford said Brija is a talented musician who basically is self-taught on the drums and the bass. He said music is a good career choice for Brija because of his dedication.
“If there’s anybody that’s practicing in the practice room, it’s Steven,” he said, adding that it takes a special kind of student to make the large time commitment Pioneer Indoor requires.
From mid-November to mid-April, the group practices for 10 hours every Saturday, except for the weekends they are traveling for competition. They also had frequent three-hour Friday practices.
Brija said the long practices are daunting to some other Lemont students interested in joining.
“This I can handle,” he said. “I have all Sunday to do homework.”
Brija said he enjoys indoor marching more because the smaller space and fewer members put more emphasis on individual performers.
“You’re not just a musician moving across a field,” he said. “You are actually a performer.”
Though it is his second year with the group, it was Brija’s first year at the national finals because of a collapsed lung he suffered last year.
He said the group’s jump from 10th place last year was incredible.
“It was an amazing feeling,” he said.
With this second marching season over, Brija is looking for a third season by joining a drum and bugle corps this summer.