MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Hiroshi Sotoyama

The 2011 season marked the first time in INFINITY’s history that a foreign performer became a part of the membership. Hiroshi “Hiro” Sotoyama from Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka, Japan, sent a video of himself playing through the audition packet, flew out to Orlando to audition in person, and became a member of the snare line. He became a great friend of everyone involved with Infinity Percussion, and was an inspiration to the 2011 membership and staff. Hiro will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of all those involved with Infinity Percussion, and we feel honored to have him as a member of the INFINI-Fam.

For more information about Hiro’s experience, read below:

How many years did you march with INFINITY, and what corps did you march with?

I marched INFINITY in 2011 as a member of the snare line, and I received Rookie of the Year. As for drum corps, I marched on the snare line with Teal Sound Drum and Bugle corps from Jacksonville, FL in 2011.

What are the similarities between your experiences with your drum corps and INFINITY?

Both activities gave me great life experiences that were not just about how to hit drums; that were not just about how to march. My experiences taught me all about being a man who can push through any tough situation. After you’ve marched with INFINITY or a drum corps (or both of them), you will have experienced something so unique and be changed into a more sophisticated person in so many different aspects of life.

As a drummer from a foreign country, why did you choose to march with INFINITY?

I came from Japan to march with INFINITY. When I decided to march indoor, I tried to contact some groups throughout the United States. After receiving a reply from INFINITY, I felt that this group would support a foreigner like me really well, and I was not wrong. There was never a worry from INFINITY about my nationality, which is why I said, "I want to march with INFINITY!"

I also wanted to join INFINITY because I loved the shows. When I watched INFINITY's 2010 program (Time Pieces) for the first time, I was shocked because there was so much cool stuff going on. I could tell that INFINITY was never going to stop growing.

How did your experience at INFINITY help prepare you for your experience with your drum corps?

Of course I gained more knowledge and increased my skills in drumming and marching - INFINITY made me stronger. Every weekend I was exposed to new knowledge about drumming that I never got in my country. That was really fun and helped me get better as an overall performer.

INFINITY also helped me create a relationship with Teal sound from the very beginning. I did not have enough information about how to audition for drum corps when I started marching with INFINITY. The staff and members were so kind to me, always offering to help me and provide information. They helped coordinate my travel to Teal’s audition site, and also assisted me in every way they could so I could march that summer.

What was your favorite thing about being a member of INFINITY?

My favorite thing about being member of INFINITY was getting a huge applause at Finals. The arena was filled by people who respect us (INFINITY), the other organizations, and the activity in general. That was my most exciting experience in my life. I still can see that view from floor when I close my eyes. 

As an alum, I am happy to see INFINITY getting better and better every season. I am really proud of INFINITY finishing in 9th place this past season. I didn't perform this past year, but I felt like I was still a part of INFINITY as they went through the season. I got a new family - I think that is the most valuable thing to me. I had various experiences with the INFINI-Family and they will always be a part of my life.

What did you take back home with you after your experience with INFINITY, either as a teacher or member?

I took back the pride and confidence that comes as a World Class performer. I completely changed my attitude for this activity after marching World Class WGI and DCI. INFINITY taught me what the purpose of this activity was, and what I should truly think about as a performer. Now that I am back home in Japan, I'm trying to teach what I got from INFINITY to my students.