There's a silence that fills the Gaither High School auditorium as band director Brian Dell calls the group to attention before going onto the field on this Friday evening.
At the front of the room stands the keepers of the beat — the drum line.
As they begin to move outside and line up to march on the field, laughter and jokes can be heard among the line. The banter signals joy — one that the group shares on this night and one they will pursue for years to come.
Dell said, "The main thing we instill in these students is 'music is life.' Every aspect of music education we transfer to real life; most of these students are not going to pursue music education as a profession, so it is my job to teach them about life through music"
The drum line leads the team onto the field but they quickly return inside as looming clouds hang overhead and threaten the safety of their equipment.
But nothing can threaten their camaraderie. Inside, laughter again takes over as the drum line jokes around on stage. The group goes back outside and plays through the eventual rain — snares snapping, bass drums booming, cymbals hissing.
As they begin to pack up their instruments after the game, whispers of hanging out at the Miller's Tampa Ale House reflect the rhythm they share.
At the Ale Hosue, beats that were played on the field are now being banged out on the table. It's a cadence of belonging. Plates piled high with fries and buffalo wings are shared.
"Most of the drum line members are seniors, and have developed good relationships," Dell said of the group. "Being in band keeps the teens occupied and creates a sense of belonging in the beginning of the school year."