By weekday, recent University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate Chris Dinse is a music teacher in the Green Bay Area Public School District. By weekend, he’s one of 20-plus percussionists spending their free time performing with the Green Bay Packers drumline — the Tundra Line.
Its popularity boosted by the 2002 movie “Drumline” starring Nick Canon, drumlines are becoming a mainstay at sporting events at every level. In Green Bay, the Ashwaubenon High School drumline gained popularity when it was selected to play a number with country music star Keith Urban at the Resch Center. The Tundra Line, which performs in front of 70,000 fans for every Lambeau Field home game, is a crowd pleaser.
Dinse met the players in the Tundra Line while cheering for the Packers as a Phoenix cheerleader in 2009 (a perk for both UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert cheer squads).
“Knowing I was going to graduate and it would be my last year as a cheerleader, I asked the drumline if there were auditions,” Dinse said.
Dinse practiced all last winter, and drove to Madison for spring 2010 auditions, competing with percussionists from across the state and northern Illinois. When the selection process was complete, he was the first member from Green Bay to ever make the line.
The members of the drum ensemble are all skilled percussionists, according to Dinse, many with experience from the UW-Madison Marching Band or DCI Drum and Bugle Corps. Dinse plays the bass drum, a large drum with mallets. It’s an extension of learning and opportunities he found at UW-Green Bay.
“Being on the line allows me to still actively play with great percussionists after leaving college,” said Dinse, who played in many different music ensembles at UW-Green Bay, including percussion ensemble, hand drumming, wind ensemble, concert band, jazz band, jazz combo, and pep band.
His commitment to the Packers and his responsibility to the Tundra Line runs deep.
“We are committed to every home game, rain or shine, hot or cold and we play the home playoff games as well,” Dinse said. The goal of the group is to pump energy into the crowd.
“Being part of the drumline mixes two of the things I love most, music performance and sports,” Dinse said. “I enjoy interacting with the crowds of tailgaters who we play for in the parking lot before the game — I go to the games hungry on purpose. I also love the big-game atmosphere and the opportunity to perform in front of over 70,000 people. I am a HUGE Packers fan; I was born and raised a cheese head in Green Bay.”
His young students — he splits time at Webster and Sullivan elementary schools on Green Bay’s east side — think it’s pretty cool, too.
“My students think its awesome that their teacher is part of a performing group, especially since most of them are Packers’ fans. I feel it has helped their engagement in class because it lets them know I am accomplished in music and there is plenty for them to learn from me.”
Photo by Mike Roemer ’86