The Real Devon Miles Drumline Story - More Than "Traditional" Drumsticks to Championship
It was a cold day in Chicago Heights at Marian Catholic High School haha jk but really, most of this story takes place there. Most folks don’t know that after i bruised my vertebrae my senior year in High School at Football practice, my Mom asked me to hang it up.... Ahhhh, the athlete I could have been. Yea, you may not think this was a big deal, this was also a few years after I broke both of my feet.... AT THE SAME TIME...Long story, moving along. Haha everyone has that story right??? Haha
So, that’s when I decided to lean into my ability as a trumpet player & snare drummer. 2 Band National Championships & a few auditions later helped me earn a college scholarship that paid for part of my first 2 years in college.
While I excelled at snare, I never really KNEW how to read music up until COLLEGE. Ever seen the movie Drumline w/ Nick Cannon???? Yea, that was pretty much me in highschool, EXCEPT replace all of the Black people in Drumline w/ white people & a Hispanic kid. Seriously though...
(Me & Josh Torres) I Tell you NO LIES!) He's awesome by the way and CRUSHING IT as the Director of Percussion @ Center Grove High School & Adjunct Lecturer of Percussion at Franklin College. Josh & I don't talk very often, but I trust and respect him as a human and admire him as a Husband, Dad and Family Man. Btw, I swear we can explain the Headbands! =)
Starting in junior high, I REALLY enjoyed the tenors but it wasn’t my instrument so I just watched the hands. I really liked the snare too! One day someone put their tenor down and I ran to pick it up, not the smartest move but I played part of their cadence.
They were like “How”!? I was like I just know it. I feel it!
Fast forward to HighSchool, I just watched hands. My opportunity came, an opening on Drumline happened and with a lot of patience, some guidance, it was my time to put up or shut up. For the longest, I couldn’t read drum music, I just pretended like I could. Everyone else had been playing their whole life. I watched their hands and I practiced from memory.
Everyone didn’t like that to be honest, especially when they started to ask more about how I could play without being able to read the music. I stayed up later. I was practicing when people didn’t know so when rehearsal did happen I was a step ahead of those who struggled a bit and close enough to catch up to the few cats who were better than me...
In part, I tell you this story because I’m getting back to the basics. I’m getting the dust off and getting back to all of the things who make me ME that I enjoy to tap into my super powers.
(Wearing one of the warmest coats ever AND face FULLY protected from that Chicago WIND!)
Practiced when it was COLD and We practiced when it was HOT!!!! Shout out to Toby & Tony on each side of me! They are great guys too!
I finished High School w/ 2 National Championships, one with me more on the sidelines after I broke both feet in football and rang a HUGE Bell on the sidelines with percussion. Thanks Mom & Dad for saving me and my feet. I would have been REALLY stupid if I had it my way... haha and the 2 National Championship came with me on snare! I almost have tears in my eyes thinking back to EVERYTHING that was involved to get us/me to that point of confidence and execution but it brings me joy to know that EFFORT is the one thing you can guarantee!
This picture right here was freshman year and MORE SWAG in the picture than you can calculate! haha These brothers right here were all different and all moving around in the same space and kept their heads held high from what I saw and made it easier to walk around as I was and working to be even at that age. I'm glad they let me in the picture! haha Marcel, Steve, Tim, George and Shawn, I think.... *I'd be willing to edit this if I'm wrong!* haha All LOVE!
The other reason I tell you this is so you understand, you can be great at WHATEVER YOU PUT YOUR MIND & YOUR EFFORT INTO!
In the below picture on top you're probably seeing the result of us all preparing to LOCK IN AFTER we jumped all over each other... Some more than others, but the goal was ALWAYS the goal. The below picture is us doing our best to BE THE BEST in the ENTIRE COUNTRY. We had a great band instructor in Greg Bimm who had expectations and leadership and we were able to capitalize on that with the very expectations we had of ourselves. A LOT of EGO on this line and love.... Kathy probably provided most of the love part, but we all just wanted to pull the absolute best out of each other and I believe we did that. Kathy, Josh, Kevin, Ted and Myself were a team. We/I for sure considered us the heart beat of the band, but maybe that's confidence, ego or arrogance talking, but hey.... I was on drum line, what do you expect? haha We were a lot of fun too. When we meant business, we meant business. People didn't always like me then and there are people who don't like me now, but they likely respect me. I just did the best how I knew how at the time and kept growing. I loved all the folks I shared drum line with from my long time friend and tenor player Vicky, the BEST Flight Nurse on Planet Earth! While she wasn't a snare, she was my homie!!!!!! "REPRESENTING" (inside joke) haha We carpooled to school quite a bit and when I say carpooled, I mean she drove me in the lovely Van! She was always kind, patient and a joy to be around. And we as drummers were NOT always easy to be around. =) To Joe, to Mike Duckett, to the other Kevin....We were all just kids trying to live our best lives. Also, GOTTA shout out Mark Whitlock, who I KNOW as I look back, I was quite the pain but I appreciate Mr. Whitlock and his love for the band, us as drummers and as humans. He never made me FEEL like I was different, even though I KNEW I as in more ways than one. Seriously, Mr. Whitlock, thank you! Some days at Marian were harder than others, but you have been an amazing human throughout. I was probably a young adult by the time I knew it for sure. haha and OH YES, Mike Levine! We often took on his persona. He was INTENSE, but cool, fair and had skill! I didn't know the word swag then, but he had it. We were nothing alike, but I loved the way he engaged, interacted and challenged us and younger people. He too is as true now as he was then.
I TELL YOU NO LIES!!!!!! Here we are after we won Grand Nationals. The Crew!!! We pushed each other hard, talked A LOT of MESS but at the end, we had a common goal. Team is Team! You aren't a leader if you aren't building and creating better people and other leaders. When you work hard, the effort is to be celebrated, because that skill is indeed transferable. Including Mary, recovering oboe player at the time Eric... haha he was DOPE at the Obe, not sure if he still is or not, but much respect.
At some point it’s simple because you either want to be great or you don’t!!!!
It takes work, it takes frustration, it takes sacrifice, it takes being judged, it takes a lot of things but the great thing about all of it is you have what it takes. It's wild how life is, because as long ago as this was, this is a part of my journey. It helped put me where I am today. I said a lot in this blog but again, you can teach yourself ANYTHING... This amazing story, which I may add to, edit or share more at some point all came from a guy who couldn't even read the music in front of him. Don't Tell me what isn't possible, LEAN ON WHAT IS and WORK TOWARDS IT! All LOVE!!!
EFFORT ON FIRE!
BE GREAT, PERIOD!