Students Drum Up Comet Spirit in New Arts Course

Editors’ Note: This feature appears as it was published in the spring 2017 edition of UT Dallas Magazine. Titles or faculty members listed may have changed since that time.
The UTD drum line made its debut at the 2016 Homecoming Parade. (Photo by Tania Raharja)


A steady rhythm of drums could be heard on the northwest side of campus throughout the fall semester.

Those percussive beats came from students enrolled in UTD’s first drum line course. It might seem ambitious for a university without a football team or marching band to launch a drum line, but a growing number of students were eager for a percussion section of their own, said Lori Gerard, a senior lecturer in the School of Arts and Humanities who teaches the class.

“Drum line is such a big thing here in Texas. High schools will hire an assistant band director just for percussion. That’s what these students are used to,” said Gerard, a native of Long Island, New York.

The new drum line made its debut at the Homecoming Parade in November and alternated with the Pep Band as a musical ensemble for home basketball games.

Gerard pursued the drum line when she became a teaching assistant for the Pep Band. Students kept contacting her about it so she took it on as a project that would benefit students and boost spirit at home games.

She crafted a proposal to have student fees cover the cost of drums and got approval to offer a drum line course in the music department. Within four days of posting an audition notice, students were selected and the drum line was filled.

The UT Dallas drum line includes five snare drums, three sets of tenor drums (with a five-drum configuration), five bass drums and two cymbals. Three of the percussionists are women.

Political science sophomore Jake Muñoz aced the auditions. Muñoz had played the tenors at Friendswood High School, near Houston, and is in his second season of performing with the Dallas Cowboys’ drum line. “There’s a bond that happens among drummers. I’ve made so many friends. It makes it a lot of fun,” Munoz said.