MARQUETTE - They say practice makes perfect, but when you're a drummer, practice can make enemies.
Or at least it can annoy people.
But Wayne Oien does his best to practice in a way that doesn't disturb others. And it usually works.
"I practice almost every day on a practice snare pad that doesn't make much noise," Oien said. "During the long winters, the drum pad is where I become creative and start putting the solo together. Drummers from the Superior Pipes and Drums also suggest ideas and are always showing me creative patterns that they have come up with. I stress originality with all my students."
When the weather finally warms up, Oien heads outdoors, to the Al Quaal Recreation Area, to continue getting ready for the marching season.
"The Al Quaal Recreation Area has been my practice area since 2003," he said. "Most people that happen to be there when I practice are curious and ask me questions about the drum or give compliments.
"The last day before I was to leave for New York, I invite all the area drummers and friends to Al Quaal to help me. It has been a tradition since 2003," he said. "I play the solo on the drum for the drummers many times and get used to playing it in front of an audience. I ask for criticism and feedback from them and most of all, some positive encouragement to make the trip to New York.
"This year was a little different," Oien said. "As I was playing the solo for the drummers, I spotted a lady heading my way, not looking very happy. I stopped playing and said to the others, 'Oh boy. Here it comes...'
"The lady verbally machine gunned me for making noise," he said. "This is the first time this has happened to me at Al Quaal. I was way down by the south hill and as far away from anyone else I could be. She stated 'What's the point to all this?' and then started in on me.
"After me being told off, I told her what 'the point' was, that I was entering an international snare drumming competition in New York on Friday (it was Tuesday). I told her that I was not deliberately trying to 'make noise' as she was stating.
"After a brief conversation with her, she surprised us and wished me good luck," Oien said. "It was an odd sendoff for me this year at Al Quaal park, but it turned out OK."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.