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Woodlands Senior A Killer When It Comes To Drums

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — During a recent Falcons game, Woodlands senior and drum major Eugene Boakye-Firempong, 17, told the other members of the school’s band to keep their instruments down for a while.

Taking the bass drum, he waited for students Isaiah Campbell and Terrence Rogers to start hammering their trip and snare drums, before he joined in. For exactly one minute, they played a cadence they named the “Killer Beat,” finishing it to a cheering crowd.

Firempong said that the trio and two others created the Killer Beat two years ago for a homecoming game.

“It was the first beat we came up with,” he said.

Firempong has been a member of the Woodlands High School band since he joined the school four years ago, after migrating from Ghana with his parents and two older sisters.

In Africa he used to play only the conga and the “little drums they have there.”

“I started playing those more modern instruments when I came here,” he said, referring to his favorite vibraphone.

Iantheia Calhoun, the school’s music director, said that Firempong quickly mastered the instrument.

“He learns music by ear,” she said, adding that after two or three years in the school he was already playing better than other students who had been there longer, even sometimes asking her, “Why don’t they know that?”

This drive to keep improving perhaps explains Firempong’s reaction when the members of Dobbs Ferry’s Clark Academy, which had been invited by the school to perform during the game, unexpectedly took to the field after it ended.

There in the Woodlands home, they danced, played their drums and waved their flags, a defiant smile on their faces. The entire school's band watched silently, but Firempong stood out in the crowd, he still like a soldier, his hands glued to his body, staring at the field.

He later admitted that he felt personally challenged.

“They were really good. We weren’t prepared for that,” he said. “We need to get to that level.”

He added that the busy school schedule would not get in the way of improving.

“We need to find our only way to practice and get better,” he said.

Firempong wants to study mechanical engineer in college, but plans to keep playing drums, he said.

Calhoun said that she is sad to lose him.

“He lives the music,” she said. “You are one with it. I can’t explain.”

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