Michael Lopez - better known as “Cha-Chi” - is one of the hardest working new members we have ever had join our ensemble. Whether the rehearsal was tedious and detail-oriented, or involved numerous reps of the same segment, this guy was always performing at 100%. He became the example of how to rehearse and how to improve your skills correctly. With a background that includes only a small amount of percussion performance, it was Cha-Chi’s extreme level of dedication that brought him success in achieving his goal in becoming a part of INFINITY.
Check out the story below to see Mike Lopez’s experience this past season with the ensemble.
How many years have you marched with INFINITY, and what corps did you march with?
My first season with INFINITY was 2012 and I was a member of the Cymbal Line. I have also marched with the Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps from 2009-2011. In 2009-2010 I was a member of the trumpet line, and in 2011 I was selected as Head Drum Major. In 2009, I received “Most Improved Marching Member” at Teal Sound, and I received “Rookie of the Year” in 2012 with INFINITY.
What are there similarities between your experiences with your drum corps and INFINITY?
A similarity I've been able to enjoy the most about marching drum corps and INFINITY is that I've been able to march with some of the same people in both Teal and INFINITY. Except through INFINITY I was able to bond more and get to know them much more which I found very fun. I couldn't have been happier being able to have met some of these amazing people through marching INFINITY and drum corps. Both are such incredible activities for young people. The staff from both my drum corps and INFINITY experiences know what talent they have and know how to push us (the members) to be phenomenal at our show through our playing, marching and our attitude. They know what they want out of the show, are very straight forward when it comes to giving instruction, and are completely honest with us about our work.
Since you are not a percussionist first and foremost, what made you come out to audition for INFINITY?
I am not a natural percussionist, but I did perform with my former high school’s indoor drumline. It was very small and it was the first year we ever attempted a marching indoor show. We had a member of INFINITY, Josh Mancino, teaching our line and he always spoke very highly of it and it got me very curious. He taught us about performance quality and how to perform and play our instruments better so that we could have a successful first season regardless the outcome or placements. I had fun with it, but wish we could have done more. Then at FFCC Championships in 2010, we stayed to watch the rest of the groups and INFINITY was the last group on. We all saw Josh and were rooting for him. As they were performing their show, I saw this purpose in their eyes and it looked so much fun to all of them. They were all giving everything they had to throw down a great performance for their home crowd. As I was watching their show, within the first 2 minutes I knew, "this is the group I want to be in. I don't know how, but I want to be in there someday." So when the opportunity came for me to go out and audition, I went for it. It is honestly a dream come true for me to finally be a member of INFINITY as a member of the cymbal section. Like so many others, I had the dream of being involved with great organizations, whether it’s in WGI or DCI; INFINITY is one of my dreams and I plan on marching here as long as I can.
What was your favorite experience as a member of an indoor drumline, and how did it differ than being a part of other non-percussive organizations?
Being a member of an indoor drumline was a lot different from being a horn player on the field or standing on a podium conducting the music. For one, the audience is right there in front of you. There isn't eighty yards between you and the audience, there isn't a trumpet or a shako covering your face, and your back isn't to the audience because you are watching the center snare's feet. The audience is right there, whether you're facing the front stands or the back stands. At all times, the audience is watching you and you need to be engaged in performing your show and making the show believable. In a hornline, you need to focus on playing the instrument, which is on your lips, so you are limited to performing marching and visuals with only your body at times. As a drum major, you can use all the facial expression you want, the only problem is, only the marching members can see your expressions and performer. With INFINITY, it is definitely a large step forward performing all aspects of a visual program with your face exposed and nothing hiding you from the audience.
Why should others audition for INFINITY or other indoor drumlines in their area?
I love INFINITY and think that students in high school and college students would definitely get something great out of marching for even one season. If you are on the fence about auditioning, JUST COME OUT! It was the best decision I ever made. Show up to auditions with the materials practiced and memorized as best you can, bring a great attitude and do your best! To anyone else wanting to march in another indoor drumline this season, go for it! This activity is special and will give you something to be proud of. Whether it will be your group's first year in competition, or the year that you all really go towards a new level in your performance, give it your all musically, visually, perform at your best, and most importantly, have fun!
What is your favorite thing about being a member of INFINITY?
Specifically with this organization, family is key. After a long day of sweating in a gym that can seem like an oven, or after repping the same segment over and over again, set by set; when you hit the last note of the show with that fire and intensity of performing your best, you take a second and realize the person next to you was working just as hard, and performing just as well as you were. Everyone in the group is pushing just as hard as the person next to them. And when the rehearsal clock isn't ticking and we have some down time, we are all having a great time, laughing, smiling, and enjoying being around each other. Becoming a member of INFINITY is rewarding in so many ways. You will become a phenomenal musician and performer, and most importantly, you will gain a new family of 40+ people. The friends I have made through INFINITY are life long and I still talk with many of them regularly. I really do love them all as if they were my actual family. We all support each other like brothers and sisters and wish the best for one another. That is what I love most about being a member of INFINITY.