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UW-RF student drums up support

LeKenneth Miller plays the bass drum at the Winter Guard International Championships in Dayton, Ohio, with the Twin Cities Area Independent Percussion Ensemble. Miller also plays bass drum with the Minnesota Vikings Skol line. The Vikings Skol line practices every Monday during August and every Wednesday over the rest of the football season. <i>Submitted photo</i>1 / 2
<i>Submitted photo</i>2 / 2

LeKenneth Miller is one of the newest members of a drum line that has been growing in popularity since starting in 2008.

Miller is one of four alternates on the Vikings Skol line.

The Skol, a drum line, began as a new type of game-day entertainment for the Minnesota Vikings' home games, according to the Skol line page of the football team's website.

The ensemble of 20 percussionists and four alternates plays at the Mall of America every game day, and at certain special events.

Miller said the initial auditions were exciting because he got to go to Vikings headquarters, but the final auditions, performing for an audience of thousands at the Mall of America, were more exciting for him.

"It was very nerve wracking," said Miller, "but it was also very very fun to get the crowd and see the solos and play for (the crowd)."

Miller auditioned to play bass and snare drums for the Skol Line, but said bass is his favorite.

"Personally, I love bass drum," said Miller. "You can hear it over any other drum out there."

Miller started playing drums five years ago when he switched to a new high school that didn't have an orchestra. Miller, who played the cello in his old school's orchestra, wanted to play music, so he joined the school band and learned a new instrument.

"Percussion was the easiest thing to pick up," said Miller, "So that's what I stuck with ever since."

Miller said he isn't disappointed not to be a full member of the team. He said being an alternate this year will help him work towards full membership next year.

"I'm working really, really hard towards full membership," said Miller.

"That's one of the reasons why I feel very honored to be given the alternate position."

There are four alternates on the team, seven snare drum players, five bass drum players, four cymbal players and four quad players.

Being an alternate doesn't mean Miller doesn't get to play. Miller said he will still go to all the Skol line practices, every football game, and he will have opportunities to play with the Skol line outside of football games.

Miller said he is looking forward to practicing with the Skol line, not just because he is excited to drum with the line, but because the practices are at the Vikings' headquarters.

"You get to see the players' locker rooms," said Miller, "and you get to see the coaches' office."

Miller, a Winter Haven, Fla., native, said he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, but the Minnesota Vikings are a close second. He said he will try his best to get an autograph from one of the players, hopefully No. 12, Percy Harvin.

"I'm looking forward to a great season," said Miller.

Miller is entering his junior year at UW-River Falls. He is a music education major, and has lived in River Falls since he started at UW-RF.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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