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Royse City senior excels in Drum Corps, Winter Guard

(ROYSE CITY, TX – April 30, 2015) Meet Robert Mueller, an 18-year-old Royse City High School senior who also happens to be the only student in the area to land a spot in drum corps while still serving as a student within the school district.

Possibly even more amazing is that Robert – who plays the saxophone in the high school band – had only just picked up  cymbals for the first time a mere three months before auditioning for a spot in the Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps. When he landed into the program last summer as one of the youngest students in the tryout group, he had no idea just what he was getting into. To make the Genesis Drum Corps means a full time summer commitment in almost every way imaginable.

“Basically, the whole physical aspect rivals people who go through Olympic training, if not harder,” Robert said.

He’s not exaggerating. Students in Genesis go through 14 hours a day of non-stop rehearsals and grueling physical training, all under the hot sun and on undulating terrain. For Robert, as a member of the percussion unit of the corps, this meant undergoing exercises such as cross country-type running while holding six-pound cymbals in a flat, vertical or horizontal position, all while keeping good technique the entire run.

After rehearsals, which would often go from 10 to 11 at night, the group would go through conditioning, which often included running, push-ups in different positions, and even yoga. One example of a conditioning exercise for the cymbal line section included holding their cymbals out at face level for an extended period of time, usually between five to 10 minutes.

“It’s consistent work,” Robert described. “You’re working out all the time and moving 24/7, unless you’re asleep.”

Volunteer dads and moms for drum corps can definitely relate, as is the case with Robert’s mother Tabatha, who in her capacity as a volunteer has helped to provide food, do ridiculous amounts of laundry and even act as a doctor for Robert and his fellow drum corps students.

“As volunteers we come and cook for them, make sure everybody gets food, drive the trucks and make sure everybody gets where they need to be,” Tabatha said. “We go to bed later than the students do and get up earlier than they do. We really put in a lot of work.”

While all the conditioning, rehearsing and volunteer work may test the physical and mental toughness of any individual, enduring it together with a group of like-minded individuals who are all pushing towards the same goal makes the experience all the more worthwhile. That type of support system – almost like a brotherhood – that pushed and encouraged each other day after day to be better went a long way in the end, according to Robert.

“We pushed each other every day,” Robert said. “It was consistently like, ‘You can do one more, and if you can’t, then do it again… and try to look good while doing it.’ It was definitely a helping factor.”

Knowing all that Robert went through during the program, working and sweating alongside the same group each and every day for three months, it comes as no surprise that he was able to not only build his percussion skills but strong, lasting friendships as well.

“It’s kind of like when you have a best friend in high school but you don’t talk to them after you graduate,” Robert said. “I can never march Genesis again, but I can still talk to them like I just saw them the other day. It’s that kind of a close-knit group.”

He came out of the Genesis program sixty pounds lighter and with a deep tan, no less. Those physical changes, however, were nothing compared to the lifelong lessons Robert learned that summer which have carried over into his everyday life as a senior in high school.

“It was definitely a summer I will not forget,” Robert said. “I came into the high school band after the season with more knowledge of how to approach things both on and off the field.”

Robert is also in his second season in the percussion circuit for Winter Guard International, a non-profit youth organization producing indoor color guard, percussion and wind ensemble competitions, and serves as a cymbal section leader for Monarch Independent Percussion, an indoor drumline dedicated to teaching and training students for performances in the Texas Color Guard Circuit and WGI national circuit. He’s also looking forward to attending Stephen F. Austin University next year, where he’ll study Music Education, and said the experience he’s gained through drum corps and indoor percussion will definitely help him in his future studies.

“I feel like doing those activities will definitely help me out in the long run with being able to manage time and being able to handle extreme amounts of pressure,” he said. “I feel like that’s something that’s very reliable for these next few years.”

This summer, Robert hopes to be part of the Crossmen Cymbal Line, but requires more than $3,000 in fees to march. To help support Robert, go to crossmen.org and donate in Robert Mueller’s name, or go to gofundme.com/helprobertmarch. Also, visit ageoutrageout.com and type BONES2015 in the memo area to give Robert credit, or visit the Age Out Rage Out facebook page.

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News reporter.

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