Akin Road Elementary music teacher Shelby Ferry helps get Vikings fans fired up on game day
Shelby Ferry knows the power music has to get people up, moving and excited. She has seen it happen on a small scale in her classroom at Akin Road Elementary School, and she has seen it on a much larger scale in a stadium full of screaming football fans.
And she's just getting started.
Ferry is in her fourth year teaching music at ARES, but it's her new part-time assignment that's giving her a real appreciation for the impact music can have on a crowd. As a first-year cymbal player in the Minnesota Vikings Skol Line, the team's percussion ensemble, it's her job to help keep fans' energy level up before and during the game.
"It's kind of like the cheerleaders," Ferry said. "The cheerleaders do cheers and get the crowd into the game. That's the same thing the Skol Line does."
Ferry has been playing percussion since she was in fifth grade, and she has performed as a member of the Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle Corps. It was through that group she learned about the Skol Line. She went through the first round of auditions last June at the Vikings' Winter Park facility, then a second round in the Mall of America rotunda. She had to perform solo, then with a small ensemble.
Playing a solo on cymbals doesn't seem like the most natural thing, but Ferry obviously made an impression.
"You just try to make it flashy and do some flips and stuff with the cymbals and crashes and try to interact with the audience," she said.
The Skol Line is a natural fit for Ferry, who said she loves performing and grew up a Vikings fan. She has already gotten a taste of what the job is like during preseason games. The Skol Line performs for tailgaters and on the plaza outside the stadium before the game, then during time outs and at halftime once the action starts inside.
Being on the field for a game is a unique experience.
"You've got to pay attention, because it's right in front of you," she said. "The atmosphere down on the field is really cool with the cheerleaders right there. It's really loud."
The Skol Line has one rehearsal a week at Winter Park in addition to its game-day performances.
The group has proved popular among fans.
"The Vikings organization actually said they've never had a complaint about the Skol Line, whereas, even the cheerleaders there's been some complaints," Ferry said. "We'll be walking out after the game and they'll want to take pictures with us and have us sign their hats. The crowd loves the Skol Line."
Ferry likes it, too.
"I'm excited for the regular season games," she said. "The pre-season has been a good warm-up."
Ferry will get her first regular-season Skol Line action Sept. 9 when the Vikings take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.