Transitioning to the professional level
Jeremy Logan, 20, is a junior music education major at Louisiana State University. He has marched for the past two years in the Cavaliers front ensemble and ages out in 2006. I asked him how his experiences in drum corps have helped or hindered him as a college music major, and how his corps experiences might help him in his future professional life.
How has marching drum corps benefited you as a college music major?
Marching drum corps has made my ears better and my chops better. [In 2004] I was the first drumset player for the Cavaliers in almost 10 years, and it was something that they hadn’t had in so long that in terms of it fitting in with the ensemble, we didn’t know how to make it mesh during camps -- so I had to learn how to fit in with an ensemble of all keyboards when I’m plying all drums, which I had never done before. My timing got so much better than it had been before because I spent two and a half months with a metronome in my ear.
And when I got back to school, it definitely showed. We were playing a piece in wind ensemble that I started on the clave, and I was able to get the tempo within a couple clicks of the metronome. Teaching drum line, playing in the snare line here at LSU, even playing in wind ensemble, I hear all the little ticks and problems that I never did before. And I take what I hear in other people’s playing and can listen to myself in my own practice time and when I’m playing, and apply what I hear from other people.
And of course I now have much faster hands, since you play 12 hours a day on tour.
The other thing is that being around so many great players, especially drummers, all summer, just drumming with them on the bus and being able to learn from them -- I learned a whole new perspective of things by seeing people of such a high caliber on their own instruments, and seeing them work at it all summer.
What are some of the downfalls of being a music major who marches drum corps? My professor is not a big fan of me spending the whole summer doing drum corps. For me as a music major, my professor doesn’t see how it can be beneficial to spend the whole summer practicing the same thing over and over again. And that’s his opinion and I respect his opinion -- he wants me to be doing other things and going other places, which I want to do too -- but I’m having too much fun doing this!
What music major doesn’t want to play all day every day? I know that if I weren’t playing in a corps all summer, I wouldn’t play nearly as much, not so much from lack of want, but for lack of access to an instrument.
How will your drum corps experience benefit you in the future? One of my biggest dreams has always been to play in a movie studio orchestra, and in that situation you only get to run an entire score maybe three times. At the Cavaliers, the music we get in camps is totally different than the music we play by the end of the summer. And in pretour, we’ll get a whole new chart, and we’ll be told “Go practice this by yourself, and we’ll run it in an hour.” And you can’t miss notes, even if it’s new; we’re the Cavaliers pit, that’s just unacceptable. So that really benefits my sight-reading and being able to take in music, which carries over to any kind of playing.
I would like to tech a drum corps somewhere some day, so marching can only help that. And if I ever want to teach college, a lot of schools look for drum corps experience.
Marching has also helped me a lot with networking. In our corps, I knew every single person I marched with both summers; we were friends, I could sit down and talk with anyone, not just say, “Hey man.” So when I’m a director somewhere some day, and I’m having problems that I can’t figure out, I will be able to call up any one of those people and ask them for advice.
I went to [the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic] last December and happened to see seven or eight people, and it was like the summer had never ended. We all hung out and had a Cavaliers reunion. Just knowing that I could call anyone who’s ever marched and get help -- that really makes it worth it, being a music major.
Getting to know Bret Kuhn, Erik Johnson, Alan Miller -- and just being around them all summer, all those really great teachers, I know my teaching has gotten better from watching them. And it has given me a different perspective on all the instruments -- even outside the percussion realm. Being in rehearsals with brass guys and listening to how they teach the different instruments, I can talk now about different bore sizes and other brass stuff, and since as a high school band director you usually have to teach other instruments, not just percussion, that’s really helpful.
I used to want to be a college percussion teacher, but working with an indoor drum line last winter really opened my eyes to working with high schoolers. Now I really want to work with high school students, maybe even be a high school band director. My dad was my high school band director, and I saw what he went through, so I never wanted to do it. But at the high school level, you get to really influence their love for the instrument. By the time someone gets to college, they’re already established on the instrument, they have their own technique and ideas of how things should sound. But a lot of these younger kids, you get to start them on the instrument, and if you have a passion for playing, and you approach teaching them with that passion, you can be really strict and they will still understand why. You can instill that passion.
Emily Tannert is a sophomore music education/percussion performance major at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., and holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. Emily aged out of the Glassmen in 2003 and was assistant tour manager for the corps in 2004 and 2005. You can contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Emily Tannert’s past columns