CLAYTON — Cascade High School might not have a competing marching band or drum line, but that won’t stop one of their students from making a huge splash with his instrumental talents at the biggest college football game of the year, the BCS National Championship Jan. 7 in Miami.
Jason Franchville, 15, is one of only 85 musicians from all over the United States as part of the All Star Invitational Marching Band that will perform at pre-game festivities and half-time at Sun Life Stadium when Notre Dame and Alabama scuffle for college football’s version of immortality.
And he has absolutely no idea how it got to this point.
“We’re not sure how he got nominated,” said his mother, Beth. “Seven-thousand people were nominated and only 100 chosen — 85 musicians and 15 in the color guard. His band director says he didn’t do it, so it’s a mystery.”
Franchville offered more clues.
“One day I was at home and my mom handed me a letter, a nomination form that I had been nominated to be a part of the BCS marching band for the football game, and I had to do videos of me playing various percussion instruments,” he said. “A couple weeks ago they said I’d be playing bass drum.
“I thought it was very cool,” he added. “We don’t know where it came from, so I was very shocked and flattered because I never pictured myself to have an opportunity to go to a BCS football game. I’m very happy.”
Beth is equally excited for her son’s opportunity.
“We don’t have a marching band and he’s still going to be able to participate,” she said. “It will be an awesome experience for him, an opportunity for him to experience something that is unique to him. To be honest, I wasn’t sure he’d have a chance since we don’t have a marching band.”
Franchville started playing drums in second grade. His family lived in Puerto Rico, which didn’t have a marching band or field percussion group. Moving to Indiana and going to Cascade, he joined the band there. With a love for drums and 12 other friends sharing that interest, the group started a drum line at the school from scratch.
“We spend time after school to do practices for drum line, and then random days during our band class we can practice. We’ve played at two football games, and then we play with the regular pep band,” Franchville said of the burgeoning program.
Franchville and his mom hope that the ability to participate in such a major event will allow him not only to gain a little knowledge to bring back to the CHS drum line and band, but hopes that it will bring exposure to the desire to hopefully have a marching band at the school.
“I think Jason will be able to bring home ideas for the drum line that will help the drum line, help them become better in their performance,” Beth said. “Their band director is really great at working with them during the school day. They formed to entertain the Cascade fans and they’re really well received, well loved by the community.”
Both say the learning curve that will come from what will be basically constant rehearsal once he gets down to Miami will be the ability to improve their showmanship.
“With a lot of professional marching bands, they do very cool tricks. A part of what we’ve struggled with is marching in general. I know they’re going to be very strict on good marching, and something like that would make us look better when we perform,” said Franchville, who credits a friend, Tyler Freeman, for helping him read sheet music, which ultimately has allowed him to play a variety of instruments. That led to this opportunity.
“He’s an incredible musician, and he was able to help me learn the steps of how to read sheet music. That’s something I struggled with. Once you know how to read sheet music, you can play any instrument.”
Indeed, Franchville can now play anything from the saxophone to drums to bells and many other instruments.
As for the BCS Championship, the stage promises to be big. Even the lowest-priced seats are exceeding $1,200. Franchville leaves Jan. 3 and returns on the 8th. He’ll rehearse all day, then have time in the evening for family.
“I’m a little nervous,” he admitted. “I’ve looked at the music. Overall I think it’ll be OK.”
The marching band will play with the famed Miami Sound Machine. Pre-game music will have a Latin theme and half-time is a Conga act with the group.
Franchville looks forward to more drum line practices when he returns.
“We’ve been able to get to know one another and we always have an amazing time,” he said. “Once we finish a performance, we praise one another and look forward to when our next performance is and what we can do better on and improve over time. I want to continue playing drums and any field percussion as I get older. I don’t want to lose that ability or skill.”
Still, Franchville and his mom laugh, hoping to crack the mystery of why he’s going to Miami in the first place.
“It’d be nice to know who nominated him,” said Beth.
As for the game, Franchville isn’t much of a football fan, but the family will put aside their Purdue alumni ties for one evening.
“I guess we’ll cheer for Notre Dame because they’re an Indiana team,” laughed Beth.