NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The Katherine Johnson Elementary Crimson Thunder comprises third, fourth and fifth-grade students.

“I kind of took the role of how band directors are in high school and matched it with elementary,” said Tyrone Hodge, the Crimson Thunder drumline director.

He said there aren’t a lot of competitions for elementary drummers.

Despite that, the various students worked hard, and recently, they got an opportunity to compete in the Battle in the Apple.

They took home gold.

“These kids have been working very hard,” Hodge said.

The secret to the success of this drumline is more than the notes on the page.

“One big thing I tell them – whenever you do something, not just music, do it to the best of your ability. Don’t halfway do anything,” he said.

That effort is what Hodge said is helping them excel.

“This is why they are so successful in their playing because you look at the little things,” Hodge said. “Like when they bring their sticks out or when they bring it back in.”

Their parents notice the changes in them too.

“My son’s confidence level is through the roof,” Benetia Rhodes said. “Mr. Hodge has taught these children discipline and dedication.”

That discipline and dedication are what Hodge said will further the student’s musical career. He thinks it could land them a scholarship in college.

“The goal is that,” Hodge said. “I myself had a partial scholarship to Hampton University. That is the goal.”

These kids have a while before they reach college, so Hodge uses their three weekly practices to give them all the tools. In the meantime, the group is preparing for a lot of different gigs, including one this weekend, and Hodge is hoping to get them into another competition next year.

“A lot of people don’t realize they are like sponges,” he said. “They soak in and soak in.”