Common Questions

This is our 7th year running this class at ORHS. Every year, we hear many of the same questions from parents and students. We’ve compiled a list of these questions and answered them as best we can.


What is Tech Class?

Marching Percussion Technique Class, or “Tech Class,” is a weekly group percussion lesson at Oakmont Regional High School.

The class curriculum focuses on marching band-style drumming—no classical or jazz here.

The class is designed to prepare students for the fall ORHS Marching Band season, even if they’re still in middle school.


How do I sign up?

That part is easy. Please complete our registration form and submit your information.

You’ll receive an email from the staff a week or so before our first meeting.


Who should attend?

Class is open to any Oakmont or Overlook student, grades 6 and up. No experience is required.

It’s ok if you’ve never played drums before. We’ll take anyone. More details on that can be found below.


When does Tech Class meet?

  • First class: April 23, 2019
  • Last class: June 20, 2019
  • Tue: 4-6pm and Thu: 5-7pm
  • Tuesday & Thursday
  • 4:00pm–6:00pm
  • ORHS Band Room

Students are expected to arrive at least 20 minutes early to set up equipment and get themselves ready. We begin playing promptly at 4:00pm.


What should I bring?

Even if you show up empty-handed, we’ll find a way to fit you in. But please be prepared as much as possible. Here are the basics:

  • Ear plugs/headphones — our rehearsal room gets very loud. Protect your hearing!
  • Comfortable sneakers — it’s a lot of standing and carrying a fairly heavy drum.
  • Water and a snack — WATER, not juice/soda. We have a short break around 7:00pm.
  • Drumsticks or mallets — some sticks are provided but bring yours anyway.
  • Bell kit, if you have one — Keyboard players should bring their bell kit if they have one.
  • Workbook & assignments — These will be distributed throughout the class.


Who teaches the class?

The ORHS Percussion Staff is made up of 6 percussion specialist instructors. Most are graduates of UMass Amherst. They are:

  • TJ Kelly – 14 years teaching
  • Mike Linnehan – 9 years teaching
  • Jason Thrailkill – 4 years teaching
  • Dillon Brotosky – 2 years teaching
  • Harry Jette – 2 years teaching


How long will classes run?

April to mid-June. We begin just after the winter break and classes end when school ends, typically the 3rd or 4th week in June.

Please note: after school ends in June, we will continue to meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the summer, to prepare for the fall season.

But those are Oakmont-Overlook Marching Band rehearsals, and technically a different event than our Tech Class meetings.


Does the class cost money?



Is there an audition for the high ORHS drumline?

Yes. Each student will play individually for the whole staff in May or June. This audition will determine which instrument each student will play for the remainder of the Tech Class, through the summer months, and for the fall competitive season.

No one will be “cut” from the percussion section. Ever.

However, we do not have enough instruments for every student to play their first choice. We will assign parts based on the students’ experience and audition performances.


Will it be too hard for me?

No. We’ve never lost anyone because it was “too hard.”

The class will be a challenge. The physical nature required, especially of the battery (drumline) instruments, and the high standard expected by the staff will test some students.

But we are understanding of each student’s learning style and speed. We always make sure to accommodate everyone in the class.


Can I play my favorite drum/instrument?

Yes, for a little while. In the early weeks of class, everyone will have the chance to play any instrument they want.

We will ask before each class if anyone wants to try something new. We encourage students to try as many new things as they want.

After a few weeks, we’ll start to settle students into an area that suits them best. After that point, we do not allow students to switch instruments.

We ask that they remain on their assigned instrument so they can experience consistent instruction and measured improvement over the remainder of the class.


What about drum set?

We do not typically include drum set in our class. You may have seen it on the football field during the marching band performances, but it’s too specialized and different from the other instruments for the purposes of our class.

As the fall marching band season approaches, students in the front ensemble (the stationary group on the front sideline) will have the chance to audition for drum set.


What if I have a schedule conflict?

We’re flexible, within reason. Many students play a spring sport and have to leave our classes early or arrive late.

We only ask that you plan future commitments around our Tech Class the same way you’re scheduling our class around any prior commitments.

As the summer gets closer, our attendance policy will become more strict, in preparation for the demanding fall competition and rehearsal schedule.


What if I’ve never played drums before?

That’s ok! We’ll teach you. We’ve had lots of students come to our class before never having played drums or, in some cases, any instrument at all.

In our class, everyone enters as a beginner, no matter how long they’ve been playing. Marching percussion is very different from concert, jazz, rock, and all other genres.

Our program starts at the most basic levels and builds up the whole group at the same pace.


What if I usually play another instrument?

That’s ok too! Some of our strongest and most successful students have called a horn their primary instrument.

The concepts of rhythm apply to all music and mastering our regimented approach will be helpful in improving on any instrument—not just playing drumline music.


What if I don’t go to Overlook/ORHS?

That’s ok! We’ll take any student who lives in Ashburnham or Westminster.

Ideally, we’re preparing future ORHS marching band members for their upcoming season(s), so if you don’t or won’t attend ORHS, the class is not designed for you.

But that’s ok. We’ll take any resident of Ash/West, grades 5-12. The more the merrier.


My question isn’t here. How can I ask it?

Sorry we missed it! It must be a good one.

Please contact the staff and ask away.