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157 drummers take part in world record attempt

Drummer Carolyn Kunkel is looking for a guitarist - a good one - to join her band.

That’s what she wrote on a sheet of paper she attached to her drum set Sunday as she joined 156 other musicians for a fundraiser at Farmingdale State College.

But there wasn’t a guitarist in sight.

The auditorium was full of drummers, who all showed up and rocked out to benefit The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which donates new and used music equipment to schools in need.

The fundraiser, “Big Beat,” was organized by the Long Island Drumming Center, for the second year in a row. The event was also held at locations around the country, and at 5:45 p.m., all drummers participating nationwide attempted to break the world record for most drummers drumming the same beat at the same time.

The hours before that were for live performances, giveaways and hourly practice sessions for the “Big Beat.”

“It’s like a thunderstorm,” said Kunkel, of Amityville, about spending the afternoon in a room full of drummers. “That just keeps going and going.”

Dennis Ricci, owner of the Long Island Drumming Center, said last year’s fundraiser raised about $27,000 nationwide. This year’s goal is $35,000.

Each drummer is asked to give a $25 donation when they register, which is when they receive a copy of the beat they play together at the event.

In Farmingdale, this year’s registered drummers raised about $4,000; and spectators were also asked to donate on the day of the event. Every dollar is donated to the foundation, which selects a school recipient in the vicinity of each fundraiser, Ricci said.

He said aside from supporting a worthy cause, the event is an opportunity for drummers from all walks of life to come together in one room.

“We literally have drummers from the age of 4 to 64 and it’s just amazing to see how enthusiastic they can be,” he said. “Something like this doesn’t happen very often and when it does, it’s just amazing to see the amount of joy on everyone’s faces.”

At 5:40, Ricci took the stage and called the drummers to their sets in preparation for the record breaking attempt, the start of which would be signaled by a conductor in Seattle, being streamed live on a projector in Farmingdale and about 15 other cities.

“We need a drummer at every drum set. That’s how we qualify,” said Ricci, adding that the number to beat was 4,700.

When the time came, Ricci counted down with the conductor on the projector screen and on cue, the auditorium exploded with sound. For five minutes, 157 drummers moved in tandem with the beat.

Keith LaBoeuf, of Glen Cove, has been playing drums for 45 years and is now a private instructor. At the event, he set up his drum set next to 9-year-old Isaiah Miller, one of his students, and 13-year-old Nick Bavaro, who’d he’d never met.

Afterward, LaBoeuf and Bavaro shook hands and Bavaro thanked LaBoeuf for the pointers he gave him throughout the afternoon.

LaBoeuf said it was “inspiring” to see people from so many demographics come together to play.

“It makes you want to do good and do better,” he said. “It brings unity.”

As the five minutes wound down, Ricci - who could barely be heard even over a microphone - waved his arms to signify the end.

In a predictable finale, the big beat ended with a deafening drum roll.
 

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