Marching to the beat of a heart


Chris Maher

Sophomore Chiyo Dean plays trumpet during the 2022 Jersey Serf show ‘Meet Me in Atlantic City’ in July 2022.

Silence echoes through the high school gym. Musicians frozen in time, hearts pounding in sync. A beat passes. Then another. 

The gym erupts with raucous applause. The musician snaps out of their otherworldly daze, attention pulled from the void and into the deconstruction of their set. With only a few minutes on the clock to clear the stage, Chiyo Dean rushes through the finale of indoor percussion championships.

Chiyo marches throughout the summer and school year, their world dominated by music. In the fall, they play trumpet in the marching band; in the winter, they crash cymbals and dance for indoor percussion, and in the summer, they march with Jersey Surf. They spend hours everyday almost all year around; marching under the blistering heat of the sun and playing through blood, sweat and tears. 

A group under Drum Corps International (DCI), Jersey Surf tours the East coast as a competitive marching band group. DCI mostly consists of high school and college students, with age ranges from 17-18 to 21-22. A sophomore in high school, Chiyo marched as the second youngest member of the corps. 

“We spend the summer sleeping on high school gym floors, traveling on a tour bus, and performing at competitions and parades until we finally get to world championships,” said Chiyo.

First experimenting with instruments in the sixth grade, Chiyo remains passionate about music. They started off with trumpet and now play euphonium, both brass instruments. They also play the synthesizer and cymbals. 

The applause feels like a familiar embrace. At the end of every performance; sweaty, breathless and exhausted, the applause makes it all worth it. The music thrums through their veins, heart and soul aligned with passion and joy. This is their future.