HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi
Four former students from The University of Southern Mississippi participated in the White House welcoming ceremony for Chinese President, Xi Jinping last month. The United States Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps performed in the ceremony; three of their snare drummers and one of their buglers are former members of the Southern Miss "Pride of Mississippi" Marching Band.
"This in itself is unprecedented, since hundreds of drummers audition for a single spot that may open about every four years. These are the country's best rudimental drummers and they are all from Southern Miss," says Dr. John Wooton, Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at Southern Miss.
"Rudimental drumming is called marching percussion or military drumming, but because it has become so much more than either of those descriptions, we use rudimental drumming. It's the foundation for all drumming but has become an art form in itself."
The three snare drummers are Scott Jamison, David Vernon and Danny Wells. "All three marched in the Pride and were my private students," said Dr. Wooton, who is in his 25th year of teaching at Southern Miss.
Jamison, from Oak Grove, Miss., was recently promoted to the Old Guard's snare section leader position. Jamison auditioned for a position in the Old Guard during his junior year at Southern Miss and was accepted. Danny Wells received a teaching position in his hometown, Houston, Texas, before auditioning for the Old Guard last year. The bugler is Michael Delaune, who was promoted to Sergeant First Class in March 2015.
"The Old Guard jokingly calls Southern Miss their 'feeder program,'" Wooton said.
The Fife and Drum Corps is a highly selective program and one of the United States Army's premier musical organizations. They are stationed at Fort Myers, Va., and average around 500 performances every year, with anywhere from three to 33 members participating in the ensemble at one time.
Musicians may audition for the Corps without enlisting in the U.S. Army. However, after notification of acceptance, musicians must enlist as full-time, active duty soldiers for a minimum of four years if they choose to accept the offer. Because participation in the Corps is a permanent duty assignment, soldiers remain a member of the Corps throughout their entire enlistment.
"This is a reflection of the quality of instruction in the Southern Miss School of Music and specifically in the percussion studio," says School of Music Interim Director Stacy Reischman Fletcher. "Dr. Wooton is concerned with excellence. His students work hard to achieve the highest quality of performance in this area. That Southern Miss is represented nationally in this way is not surprising; it reflects a sustained effort of hard work and high expectations."
For information about the Southern Miss School of Music, visit http://www.usm.edu/music/contact-us-departments.