Quick Learner

John Marinan has been playing the drums since fourth grade. This early start, along with his ability to learn quickly, has qualified him for drum captain. Staff Writer Ethan Ohlrich | Staff Writer Dave Draves

John Marinan practices his laying speed on the tenor drums. He also plays the keyboard, snare drum, and mallets on larger drums. Photo: Spencer Isberg


Senior John Marinan first found an interest in percussion after he watched his sister play at a varsity football game. He was immediately intrigued.
“It was really inspiring and I realized, that’s what I want to do when I’m older,” Marinan said.
Marinan developed a passion for percussion in fourth grade, and has since been involved with drumline through high school. He currently plays the tenor drum as well as other instruments including the keyboard and mallets.
Band Instructor Bill Monroe said he has seen tremendous improvement from Marinan over the years.
“He is so young, he works so hard and he’s just gotten better with experience and he’s never shied away from a challenge,” Monroe said. “Whatever we give him, he learns it and then goes on the next journey to learn something more.”
This year, Marinan was selected as drum captain of the percussion section after a wide range of evaluation from Monroe and percussion specialist Judyth Peterson. Their selection was based on multiple different percussion skills, along with the candidate’s overall demeanor.
“We look to see who’s taking it seriously, who’s a great musician, who’s a good leader, and who’s got their head on straight,” Monroe said. “John was a really good choice and he has been great for the students.”
As drum captain, Marinan is in charge of all the percussion sections of the band, 35 musicians overall. Marinan takes this responsibility seriously, having the drumline begin to practice early in the summer in preparation for fall marching season.
“Drum line’s sectionals begin before the band even gets together because the band needs to have a solid beat to learn their music to,” Marinan said. “It’s really fun to have a section of people to work with throughout the summer, and then to watch that come into fruition during games in the fall.”
During the school day, Marinan leads sectionals and rehearsals in class. Monroe said that because the percussion section is off on their own a lot, Marinan has the extra leadership that they can count on.
“If we need somebody to rehearse because Judy can’t make rehearsal and I’m working with the rest of the winds, I can ask John to take care of the drums,” Monroe said.
Peterson has been giving lessons to Marinan since he was in fourth grade, and said that she has never taught anyone like Marinan. Once you she tells him to do something, she doesn’t have to tell him again.
“I remember when he was very young coming for lessons at my house,” Peterson said. “I’d mentioned something, perhaps I mentioned it more than once, and he’d just kind of roll his eyes at me”
Peterson said that once Marinan understands something, he gets it and his mind is like a steel trap. He has been awarded ones every year he has participated in solo and ensemble, along with an invitation to play in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival in a trio.
“That’s the highest performance level you can reach as far as high school performing and for the MSP,” Peterson said. “They only want the cream of the crop at that event.”
Being a part of the percussion section for four years has allowed John to further develop relationships with his peers. Through this, he has made many memories while on drum line.
“I think my favorite memory from marching band is the third quarter and marching into the stadium because it gets everybody so hyped to see the band,” Marinan said. “When the drum line goes by, [the student section] starts screaming your name.”
Marinan plans on continuing his academic and musical career at the University of Michigan, hoping to join the university’s drumline his sophomore year. With his leadership capabilities along with technical talent, both Peterson and Monroe feel he is fit for a larger, more pressure-filled atmosphere.
“He really cares about how he represents himself and I’m sure in his other classes he has that same care,” Monroe said. “I’m sure it’s not just band, but it’s other things he cares about; how well he does, how he represents the school, and [how he] cares about other people in class.”