I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for winter and all this icky snow to be gone. I go on spring break next week. Not that I’m doing anything terribly exciting, but it does mean we’re getting that much closer to warm weather…and summer!
And for me, this summer is a bit more special. I mentioned a couple posts ago a thing called drum corps. Well, this is my last summer that I am eligible to march, and after six years, it’s a little bittersweet.
What is drum corps you ask? Well. Haha. It’s simple, really. Drum corps is a marching art, its history rooted in the American Legion and VFW. It’s a lot less militaristic now, though. Basically, you have your brassline, battery (on-field percussion), front ensemble (stationary percussion), and color guard. Sounds like a marching band, yeah? I mean, it is sort of like marching band, mostly just because you put out the same product – a show of color, movement, and sound. The difference is the precision, excellence, discipline, and incredibly long hours of rehearsal for three months during the summer that makes drum corps way different. And let’s not forget sleeping on buses and gym floors, taking ice cold showers, eating off a semi truck made into a kitchen, and never staying in the same place for more than a couple days. Sounds great!
Our housing and rehearsal site in Tennessee in 2012. Even though it was hot, at least it was pretty!
Sleeping in gyms is...fun? It rained that day (not in Tennessee), so thankfully there was a volleyball net set up to double as a clothesline.
Starting in November, we have a weekend rehearsal camp once a month in Dubuque, IA, where we audition, work on fundamentals, conditioning, and begin to learn the show. Memorial Day weekend, the corps moves in, and we begin “Cornfield,” which is where we put the show together and continue to get stronger, putting in fourteen hour rehearsal days. The end of June/beginning of July is when the real tour begins and we go to organized shows all over the country. The season ends with the Drum Corps International World Championships week in August at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It’s a long three months, standing out in the sun, but it’s over before we know it.
Like I said, this will be my sixth year marching: my third year with the Colts, a World Class corps, after I marched my first three years with their younger sibling corps, the Colt Cadets. This activity has provided me with a wonderful music education from fabulous instructors. Some people rag on drum corps, saying that it doesn’t teach anything musical, and that it’s just about playing loud. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, we love playing loud. A 70 person brassline blowing your face off? Yeah, it’s awesome. But we also learn to play musically, to convey emotion to the crowd to pull them in and engage them. We spend hours, nitpicking at the tiniest of tiny details.
This activity is pretty special. I’ve met a lot of amazing people and have some great stories to tell, but I think it’s really where I’ve discovered my love for performing. I think anyone who has experienced music understands the incredibly personal nature that it can possess, as in, I’m playing this for my ears and my ears only. And yet, the same satisfaction found in that experience is also present in the sharing of music with other people.
This is a video of the last minute and a half of our 2012 show, “Boundaries.” Our closer was “All By Myself.” Someone left this comment on the video:
"Me and my dad went and saw them in Broken Arrow Oklahoma the day after my Moms' funeral. I was a little skeptical when I read they were performing "All By Myself" I snorted and thought what a waste....but the show and the closer just won me over......it made a very hard time for me a little easier to bare [sic]."
And that is why leaving home to go on tour for three months is completely and totally worth it: getting to share the music with other people.
Happy almost spring!
“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach
It’s all about sharing, especially your thoughts! Do you prefer the enjoyment of music in solitude or performing for others?