Parents drumming up support for a ‘Thunder’ group at Glenfield
A group of parents are working to establish a drum line at Glenfield Middle School, similar to Hillside Elementary’s Drums of Thunder.
Her son joined Drums of Thunder during the 2020-2021 school year when classes were virtual but still managed to cultivate relationships through the boundaries social distancing imposed. “And just those peer connections that he was making, it was the camaraderie between the students – it was amazing,” Thompson said. “They were very proud and supportive of each other.”
Drums of Thunder was started in 1980 by Louis D’Amico and has since gained national recognition, appearing on the “Today” show in 2019. The group closed Montclair’s first Pride Festival last year with so much energy that Thompson’s son broke one of his drumsticks while performing.
Seeing the positive impact that the musical activity had on her son, last summer Thompson decided to start an initiative to raise money and awareness to create a drum line at Glenfield. Thompson’s son Christopher, now a sixth grader, said: “I enjoyed every minute of my time in Drums of Thunder, and I really wish that we could have come into Glenfield with a drum line. I miss that energy we have when we're all together.”
Thompson said that even if her son wasn’t a part of a drum line she would still work to bring a drum class to Glenfield.
Currently the initiative has a GoFundMe page and is holding a Montclair Music Night event on April 15 to raise money to secure supplies. The event will take place at the Commonwealth Club and will include performances by musicians Jason Didner, a Glenfield parent, and Leslie Masuzzo, a Hillside teacher. Drums of Thunder will also be performing at the event.
“For Montclair Music Night, it's the community enjoying a night of music, some drinks, some socializing and some fundraising,” Thompson said.
Varsha Hathiramani, lead parent for Drums of Thunder, hopes that drums will make their way into Glenfield before her daughter, Inika, graduates from Hillside this year.
“She has such a big passion for the Drums of Thunder as well as the drumming program that we currently have that I would love to see it continue for all of them,” Hathiramani said.
Since her daughter started in Drums of Thunder, she has noticed a sense of responsibility that she and the other students have developed. The young musicians set up their own equipment and don their uniforms before performances.
“I love drumming because it’s so fun to do and it’s challenging, and it sounds great when everyone plays together,” said Owen Rockmaker, a Drums of Thunder member. “I made a lot of friends in Drums of Thunder and got to represent my school at college basketball games and events around the area.
“It makes me sad that I would not be able to continue to do a drum group at Glenfield. I hope they can make that happen.”
The project has received full support from the administration at Glenfield and businesses in Montclair. Kool Kids Foundation, a local organization that provides music scholarships and instruments, donated some drum sets. Tinga, a Mexican restaurant on Bellevue Avenue, held a fundraiser for the initiative by donating a percentage of its sales made in one day to the drum-line effort.
As the parents group continues to collect more drums and funding, Glenfield administrators have assured them that they will work to put a drum class on the schedule.
Meanwhile, Thompson is continually asked why Glenfield doesn’t have a drum line.
She responds: "You know what, let's make it happen. We don't know why they don’t have one, but let's make it happen.”
Information about Montclair Music Night on April 15 and how to make donations is available on the Facebook page Glenfield Middle School Drumline Supporters.