Bass drummer doesn't miss beat, even with hand injury
By Gunnery Sgt. Sean Wright
| | August 11, 2002
EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Percussionists strive to keep both hands equally proficient when playing. One hand can be more dominant, requiring more rehearsal time to be focused on developing the weaker hand.
When a dropped case accidentally smashed the Albany Marine Band's bass drummer's finger Aug. 25, his dedication paid off because he was forced to perform several shows practically one handed - and he didn't miss a beat.
Cpl. Tyrone Hamlette, a former street musician from Harlem, N.Y., said he didn't think the incident was severe when it occurred the day the band departed to perform in the 2002 Military Tattoo here.
"I didn't think it was hurt when it happened," the soft-spoken Hamlette said. "I pulled it from underneath the case and continued to work. It wasn't until we reached Canada during our trip here that I noticed it was very swollen."
The finger became severely infected and required such strong antibiotics Hamlette was forced to spend two days in the infirmary here.
In perhaps the truest Marine form, Hamlette didn't miss a performance when the band was doing its individual show. While he was hospitalized, the Drum and Bugle Corps was performing the individual slots with the Albany Marine Band performing with the massed bands. He admitted it was quite painful at times.
"My instincts told me to try to play everything left-handed, but there were certain parts that, in order to keep things together musically, I had to take the pain and use my injured hand," he said. "I knew people were counting on me to keep the rhythm going and some of the parts are nearly impossible to play one-handed. I couldn't let the section or the band down."
His courage and dedication did not go unnoticed, according to Master Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Farquhar, Albany Marine Band's bandmaster.
"You can't forget that type of dedication," Farquhar said. "I took notice and it's something that truly reflects on his character as a Marine and professionalism as a musician. It would have been easy for him to say he couldn't perform, but he hung in there. I was very concerned for him, but the good Marines that stand out put the mission and their fellow Marines ahead of their own needs."
Hamlette stated that the hand is improving daily now and it's better than it's been since arriving here.
"It's getting better," Hamlette said. "The finger's still a little swollen and occasionally I get a twinge of pain, but it's getting better each day.
Hamlette and the Albany Marine Band will continue to perform here through Aug. 24.