By Sue Botos
Many parents of student musicians may wish they had the dilemma of Sharon Lowe-Chapman, mother of St. Edward High School snare drummer Christian Chapman.
“Ask him to practice? Never! Pray for him to stop is more like it! Christian is so passionate about drumming. When he is not practicing he is watching drumming videos online,” Lowe-Chapman said via e-mail recently. However, her son’s dedication has paid off. The Rocky River resident will be representing Ohio in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band during the New York City department store’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. The band is under the direction of Jon Woods, leader of the Ohio State University Marching Band, and is composed of 150 top high school musicians from all 50 states.
“I do practice a lot,” said Chapman, 16, during an interview at his Lakewood school. The junior said he was originally matched up with the trombone as a fifth-grader at Kensington Intermediate School in Rocky River; however, older brother Brandon Lowe needed a drummer for his band.
“My brother plays bass (guitar) and said I should play the drums so I could be in a band with him,” explained Chapman.
“I was not into sports, so it gave me something to do,” he added, stating that he is not a fan of video games.
Sticking with drumming through his middle school years at Lakewood Catholic Academy, Chapman received a music scholarship to St. Edward. The youngest of four boys, his two older brothers attended Rocky River High School, and his middle brother preceded him at St. Edward. Chapman is also in National Honor Society, is class vice-president and is active in Habitat for Humanity.
His musical scholarship required participation not only in the school concert band but marching band, which was a new experience.
“The auditions for the drum line were one week long and then we had individual instruction,” explained Chapman, adding that freshmen and sophomores usually start on the bass drum.
“The bass is a good way to get your feet wet,” he remarked, noting the often tough combination of playing while maneuvering through a marching show.
“I came in exuberant and planned to audition for bass,” recalled Chapman. “Then I told the percussion instructor (Bill Etling) that I wanted to audition for snare and I made it.”
His success made him one of the few freshmen ever selected for the St. Edward drum line. Chapman’s mastery of the drums was further recognized when he was chosen from about 300 musicians as Ohio Indoor Percussion Performer of the Year for 2011.
While marching in the Macy’s parade will be an honor, the trip to New York City may be a healing experience for Chapman, whose previous visit had been the year before 9-11.
Lowe-Chapman recalled, “My dad (whom we just buried in August at the age of 91) loved the Macy’s parade. It was as much a tradition at our house as was the turkey. So I grew up loving the parade as well, to the extent that I planned an extended family trip to New York City Thanksgiving of 2000. Christian had nightmares after 9-11 having visited the towers the Thanksgiving before.”
She said she and her husband helped him make and sell American Flag pins to work out his pain, and at the age of 6, Chapman raised $500 to send to Catholic Charities for the victims and families of 9-11.
Chapman noted this support when talking of his selection for the Macy’s parade. “My mom loves to support me and she found out about the auditions online,” he said.
“I was watching the parade on TV a couple of years ago and thought what an incredible pipe dream it would be for Christian to be in it,” said Lowe-Chapman. After submitting a DVD audition in July of 2010, Chapman found the eight snare drum spots already filled. This year, however, things turned out differently. “Pipe dream turned reality!” stated his mom.
Chapman’s family is planning on making the trip, and he is especially excited that his brother, SPC Colin Chapman, who is currently serving in Afghanistan will be on mid-tour leave over the holiday.
“He will be able to see me in the parade with the timing of his leave. My family will have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving,” said Chapman.
Cost for the trip is estimated at $1,550 including air fare, and Chapman is fundraising to meet expenses. Anyone wishing to help can send a check made out to Music Festivals (with Chapman’s name in the memo section) to Christian Chapman, 20695 Beaconsfield Boulevard, Rocky River, Ohio 44116. His marching moves can also be checked out on Facebook at Christian Chapman Marching in Macy’s Great American Marching Band.