Two students will be representing Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools in front of an audience of millions at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in November.
Thomas Goldstein, a senior at Lafayette High School, and Charlie Wood, a senior at Warhill High School, have been selected as one of 100 drummers from across the country to participate in the parade in New York City on Nov. 28.
“Hopefully this will give me the experience to know what I want to do,” Wood said. “Going up to the city, I want to see if the music is a different style because I might consider going there for school.”
Both Wood and Goldstein started band when they were in fifth grade.
Goldstein has been a member of the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps, his mother Chelsea Goldstein said. That has helped him put in nearly 40 hours a week of practice. It’s a passion of his, Chelsea Goldstein said, so much to the point that he even makes his own drum sticks and pads.
Wood’s experience has been a bit different, he said, because he is a hard-of-hearing student and has to wear a hearing aid in each ear.
“Drums have been the one thing I can notice when I hear music,” he said. “When I’m playing, I’m focused and prepared. I can hear it.”
Wood and Thomas Goldstein are friends who regularly practice together, Wood said. The idea for auditioning was originally Thomas Goldstein’s after he saw a fellow student take part in the parade last year. One day last spring, the pair were practicing together and Wood thought the opportunity sounded like a good idea.
To audition for the parade, the student needs to send in a video of them performing a few pieces. But the competition is tough, Wood said, as only a hundred out of thousands of applicants across the country are accepted.
The pair sent in their audition videos in February and heard back in March that they had been accepted.
Wood said part of their success is being taught in a district with decent music programs. Over the past seven years, he said he has seen how the schools in the community work together to teach and learn from each other and that’s what makes the music program stand out.
“I guess when you start out, you’re just learning basic stuff but then you look up to the high school band and see what they’re doing and say ‘wow I want to do that,’” Wood said.
A week before the performance, the drummers will head up to the city where they will practice with the other chosen students, get fitted for the uniforms and spend a bit of time sight-seeing, Chelsea Goldstein said.
According the the Music Festivals and Tours website, which organizes the parade, students have to pay $1,689 to participate, which does not include travel expenses. Chelsea Goldstein said the cost is worth it because of the experience her son will remember for the rest of his life.
“What a great thing to be able to say you’ve done something like this,” she said. “I think it is a great thing to be able to perform in as many places and venues as possible and this is just an iconic event.”