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A Message For Parents

When your child decides to be part of a Drum Corps International corps, he/she is making a choice that requires a deep personal commitment that will require strength and focus. Facing new levels of responsibility, discipline and self-knowledge, they will gain values that will help them succeed in life.

Understanding Their Reasoning

Every student has personal reasons for wanting to be part of a Drum Corps International group. Your son or daughter is no different. It may simply be to become a better performer. Alternatively, it could be a way to be with friends. College-level students often view membership in a drum corps as a key rung in their climb to be professional performers or arts educators. For many students, it is a way to challenge themselves to become the best they can be.

Help Them Pursue Their Dreams

Winning a Drum Corps International championship title ... Performing in front of tens of thousands of people ... Being a better trumpet player ... Being part of a tradition and part of something bigger than oneself ... Becoming the best music teacher ... Having the most extraordinary summer experience of their lives ... Meeting new people ... Learning from the best teachers ... Seeing new places.

No matter their dream, being part of a DCI drum corps can help them achieve it, while at the same time providing one of the most intense and rewarding performing arts education experiences available in the world. It's an experience that helps build the performance, education and personal foundation of a lifetime.


What is Drum Corps International?

Drum Corps International (DCI), formed in 1972, is the non-profit governing, oversight and sanctioning body for North American drum and bugle corps, whose members are under 22 years of age. DCI is headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., where it maintains a small full-time executive and administrative staff. The organization produces and sanctions competitions and oversees the setting and application of the rules of competition. DCI also trains and assigns adjudicators and schedules corps for participation in competitions. The summer tour ends with the Drum Corps International World Championships held each August in Indianapolis. The week-long series attracts live audiences near 30,000!

Learn more about Drum Corps International in the video below.



DCI sanctions two classes of drum corps participation in North America – World Class and Open Class. World Class corps generally have older, more experienced students and tend to achieve levels of excellence commensurate with the experience and skill levels of the students and their instructional staff. Open Class corps tend to be smaller groups, often populated by younger students. Approximately 20 percent of students who participate in an Open Class corps ultimately become part of a World Class corps. Because scholastic music educators view participation in DCI drum corps positively, most World Class groups now process more applicants than positions that are available. This can necessitate an intense, time-consuming off-season audition process. However, most Open Class corps are able to accommodate nearly all students who wish to participate.

What is "Drum Corps"?

The drum corps activity and the Drum Corps International experience is often classified by fans and participants alike simply as "drum corps." There is not much agreement, however, upon a single definition for the term. Each corps has its own interpretation consistent with its own organization, mission and heritage. Drum Corps International's classification of "drum corps" has evolved over the years, moving from a structured, rules-based definition to an organization- and values-based definition. In addition, the passionate fans and followers of the activity have their own definition that is often personal, deeply held, and reflective of their experience with the drum corps.

Tradition and heritage permeate drum corps. Traditions span through instrumentation, style, attitude, uniforms and music. The degree to which today's corps pay homage to their traditions and heritage is the bellows that stokes the passions that truly separate drum corps from marching bands.

Here's a fairly straightforward definition of "drum corps" from Wikipedia:

A drum and bugle corps is a musical marching unit consisting of brass instruments, percussion instruments and color guard. Drum corps are specialized marching bands. Typically operating as independent organizations (no scholastic affiliation), drum corps perform on-field competitions, parades, festivals and other civic functions. The rules of Drum Corps International set the age limit for drum corps participation at 22, with most participants aged 17-21.

Competitive drum corps take part in a summer tour, visiting various cities around the country and participating in competitions. Competitions occur on football fields. Every year, each drum corps prepares a single show, approximately 8–12 minutes in length, and carefully refines this throughout the entire summer tour. This focus on a single show takes advantage of the large amount of time needed to hone and refine a modern drum corps program, with a momentum that continues to build toward the last performance of the season – championships.

What's the Difference Between Drum Corps and Marching Bands?

Drum corps are a subset of the larger body of marching bands. It is accurate to say that all drum corps are marching bands, but not all marching bands are drum corps. At the macro level, there is little difference between drum corps and marching bands.

So what are the specific differences? First, drum corps use only bell-front brass instrumentation – no woodwinds like saxophones, clarinets and flutes. Second, most marching bands (in the United States) are affiliated with schools and are usually inclusive – everyone who wants to participate is accommodated. Drum corps are independent organizations (typically not part of a scholastic institution) and have a membership limit set at 150. Depending on the corps, there may be more potential members than performance spaces available. Hence, drum corps, especially the World Class corps, are exclusive, rather than inclusive. Third, drum corps are self-financing. They rely on fees from participants, Drum Corps International, and traditional development and fundraising activities for their budgets. Scholastic marching bands rely heavily on school budgets (usually public tax revenue) for the bulk of their financial needs.

What is the Drum Corps International Tour?

Formerly called the "Summer Music Games," the DCI Tour is a series of more than 100 drum corps competitions that take place across the country during June, July and August. These competitions are of two varieties – events Drum Corps International produces (Premier Events) and events sanctioned through DCI's national network of Tour Event Partners (Tour Events).

DCI creates the tour schedule, and corps are assigned to events based on availability and travel and logistical issues. Corps travel to the competitions and rehearse and prepare as they make their way between events. The intensive educational and social characteristics of the tour are a key aspect of the DCI experience that differentiates drum corps from scholastic marching band. From the perspective of many students, the tour IS the essence of the drum corps activity.

For Drum Corps International Premier Events, DCI is responsible for all aspects of those tour stops. Corps participating in those shows receive performance and travel fees from DCI. DCI also is responsible for paying all operating costs for events it produces, including stadium rental, security, parking, lighting, etc. For regular Tour Events, the Tour Event Partner pays DCI a fixed sanctioning fee. DCI provides the judges for the event and assigns corps to perform. A substantial portion of this sanctioning fee is used by DCI to compensate the participating corps and to pay the adjudicators.

What's the Relationship Between the Drum Corps and DCI?

Drum corps that participate in DCI-produced or -sanctioned events and drum corps that are members of Drum Corps International are independent entities. There are no legal or fiduciary ties between the corps and Drum Corps International other than those associated with membership or participation in an event.

Each drum corps is responsible for its own financial, managerial and operational well-being. That said, Drum Corps International has an interest in helping corps remain financially healthy and organizationally sound. Therefore, each year some resources are allocated to evaluate and support corps that may require assistance.

No money transfers from the corps to Drum Corps International as a condition of participation. At the same time, DCI compensates the corps for performances and participation in DCI events. This compensation can include payment for performances, payment of housing and rehearsal site fees, and mileage allowances.

Drum Corps International produces the "Tour." DCI is responsible for producing and sanctioning events and for scheduling the corps during the season. DCI may schedule corps regardless of their membership status.

Not all corps performing in a DCI-produced or -sanctioned event are "member corps." Corps attain membership in Drum Corps International by having a consistent record of performance excellence; external evaluations of their finances, management and operations; and, finally, a vote of the other members of the organization.

When a corps participates in a DCI-produced or -sanctioned event, DCI pays it a performance fee. This fee is relatively equal for all corps, regardless of placement. By participating in DCI events, the corps agrees to allow Drum Corps International to act on its behalf with respect to securing corporate sponsors and marketing audio/visual products and services. A corps is generally compensated for audio/visual sales of its specific performance, while DCI assumes the responsibility of securing the rights needed to record, broadcast and sell performances.

Is Drum Corps a Good Option for My Son/Daughter?

Participation in a drum corps is a dramatic positive experience for most young people. Each corps offers a unique combination of education, life experience and tradition. Because of this, matching student and family expectations to the right corps is important.

At the heart of the drum corps experience is a set of values – dedication, discipline, commitment and achievement through teamwork – that enhances the student's life. Young people soon discover that dedication and hard work enable them to achieve tremendous success. Success, in turn, promotes confidence in their abilities. Students learn and improve valuable personal skills like teamwork, time management and problem solving. Members of all DCI-affiliated corps are challenged to personally accept a new sense of discipline and responsibility. Above all, one of the key things drum corps participants learn is simply stated, but complex to convey – how to get things done.

While a substantial number of Drum Corps International alums are music and performing arts educators and professional performers, some are doctors, lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders in their chosen fields and in their communities. Regardless of the life path your son or daughter expects to follow, the Drum Corps International experience enhances the likelihood of success.

Drum Corps and Education

The drum corps experience itself provides a multifaceted education. First, there is the music and performance education provided by the corps' staff. Second, there is the life and values education that is attained by participation in an intense, focused effort to achieve excellence.

Aside from the music, performance and life education that comes directly from participating, many studies indicate that performing arts students show higher levels of academic achievement in all disciplines than students who do not participate in performing arts. More than 75 percent of the 1,100+ World Class corps students who participated in DCI's 2008 Project Persona research study, reported a grade point average (GPA) above a 3.0 at either the high school or university level.

The degree of performance/music education students receive depends upon the corps. A solid rudimentary education is likely to be available with some groups while others are likely to deliver an educational experience on par with a university-level performing arts curriculum. Regardless, the life education and experience gained from being part of any DCI group is likely to have a positive effect on your son or daughter.

Living Drum Corps Values

Your child will be spending all day, every day with the same group of people with a shared purpose – the perfection of the performance. They will eat, sleep, live, rehearse, endure, perform and celebrate together. This is perhaps the single most positive aspect of the drum corps experience for most people. It is virtually impossible to go through an entire season of this and not come away a better person. Specifically, your son or daughter will reap the following benefits from his/her participation in a drum corps:
  • Character development
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Learning the value of teamwork
  • Learning the value of commitment to purpose
  • Learning the value of responsibility, integrity, sacrifice and excellence
  • One-on-one musical and performance instruction by world-class instructors
  • Meeting and working with people with diverse backgrounds and origins
  • Making new, lifelong friends

What's the Cost?

The cost of participating in a DCI-affiliated corps varies group-to-group. For World Class participation, the costs are likely higher than those of an Open Class corps, mainly due to a more extensive travel schedule. Regardless, each corps independently sets its own tuition and fee schedule. Drum Corps International has no role in determining or regulating the tuition and fees corps charge.

The basic cost of participating in a DCI drum corps is the annual tuition. The corps often call this a "tour fee" or "dues." In keeping with the educational component of Drum Corps International's mission, the annual fee the students pay the corps is referred to as tuition. The tuition amount varies but generally covers instruments, equipment, uniforms, instruction, facility rental as well as transportation, food and housing during the tours.

Depending on the corps, there also may be costs associated with off-season auditions and camps. Members may be responsible for some specific equipment and uniform costs as well, such as rehearsal clothes, gloves, valve oil, shoes, socks, hat plumes, etc. Expect your student's group to provide a list of all costs specific to that corps.

Considering the cost of a two- or three-day travel trip with a high school marching band to perform at a national parade, or a two week-long summer sports camp can run upward of $1,500 or more, keep in mind that tuition with your son or daughter's drum corps will include travel, food and housing over the course of more than 60 days during the summer!

Corps will sometimes adjust their student tuition and fees based on the success of their fundraising activities. Corps with strong fundraising capabilities may have lower tuition and fees. Conversely, some corps rely more heavily on student tuition and fees than others.

Check with the corps in which your student is interested for specific tuition and cost information.

How Do Corps Raise Money?

Although the appearance fees and allowances nationally touring, World Class corps collect from Drum Corps International are relatively equal, in reality these fees make up a minor part of the total budget of any corps. As an estimate, the fees and allowances from DCI account for only about 10 to 15 percent of a top-tier corps' total operating budget.

The rest of a corps' operating budget comes from other sources, such as student fees and tuition, corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales and various fundraising activities. Corps set student tuition based on a variety of factors, including how much money they raise from other sources, the demand for positions in the corps and other market factors.

For other groups, tuition can account for as much as 50 percent of the overall operating budget of the corps. Top groups typically look for tuition to cover only 25 to 30 percent of the overall operating budget.

For many DCI member corps, participation is akin to an intense experiential training course on how to organize and teach the marching arts. Considering more than 60 percent of the students participating in DCI's World Class corps are college-level arts and music majors, their participation may more properly be viewed as an extension of their college education. Some corps even have arrangements with universities and colleges in their area to grant college credit for participation.

Why Do Costs Vary Among Corps?

Drum corps affiliated with Drum Corps International are independent organizations, not owned, operated or managed by DCI. Each corps is responsible for its own financial and managerial health. Costs vary between corps because each corps makes its own decisions regarding how much it spends and, subsequently, how much revenue it needs to generate. Some corps spend less money than others and may therefore find themselves in a position to offer lower tuition and fees. Other corps may have effective fundraisers that can help keep tuition and fees down. Still others may have a a large pool of applicants, allowing them to charge higher tuition and fees.

Where Does the Money Go?

The money paid for tuition goes to pay for instruments, equipment, uniforms, instruction, and facility rental, as well as transportation, food, and housing during the tour. The corps pays the instructors and teachers and has to pay for housing and practice facilities. The tuition also covers the costs of operating or leasing transportation (buses and equipment trucks). If there are certain items not covered by the basic tuition, the corps usually makes that clear during the audition process. A corps may also require money to fund its operations, which can include office and administrative costs.

How Do Students Raise Money to Pay Their Fees?

During the 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons, Drum Corps International conducted a series of surveys and interviews with corps members titled "Project Persona." One issue included in that research was how student performers pay for participation in their corps. In the most recent study, covering approximately 1,100 students, more than 80 percent indicated they received some amount of funding assistance from their family. 53 percent indicated they used savings from their job, while 40 percent received some sponsorship assistance. (Sponsorships normally happen when the corps refers the student to an alum or other interested party who pays some portion of the student's tuition.) Note the total funding percentage is more than 100 percent because funding can come from multiple sources.

Other sources of funding cited in the research included student loans (recognition that participation in a drum corps is a necessary educational experience) and other corps-supported fundraising activities, such as selling ads for event program books.

So What Does It Really Cost To Participate?

During the 2008 Project Persona study, a series of questions relating to the total cost of participation were asked, which would include not only the direct costs – tuition and fees – but also the supporting costs incurred during the year – travel to camps and rehearsals, food, other travel expenses, laundry money, etc. The average total cost of participation in a touring World Class drum corps was $3,150. The median value was $3,000; meaning that 50 percent of those responding said the total cost of participation was more than $3,000, and 50 percent indicated it was less than $3,000. One of the largest contributing factors to higher total cost of participation is the cost of travel to off-season rehearsal camps. Some student performers travel from Europe and Asia to participate. They reported participation costs in excess of $6,000.

How Are Corps Members Transported?

Two separate types of transportation are involved in participating in a Drum Corps International corps. First, transportation to off-season rehearsal camps; second, transportation while the corps is on the road and touring.

Transportation for rehearsals camps:
For rehearsal camps, students will generally be responsible for arranging and paying for their own transportation. Some corps may provide transportation from airports/train stations to the rehearsal camp site.

Some corps hold rehearsal camps at locations around the country, thus reducing the student's overall travel expense. When planning your student's drum corps budget, be sure to account for rehearsal camp transportation, as this cost is above and beyond the corps' tuition and fees. Check with your student's corps for specific information about transportation requirements and arrangements.

Transportation during the DCI Tour:
While on tour, the corps is responsible for transportation and the cost of that transportation, which is included in the student's tuition.

While touring, most corps travel as a group via bus convoy. In some cases, a corps may travel using other modes of transportation especially when a long distance (coast-to-coast) needs to be traversed in a timely fashion. Once they arrive at their destination, the corps will likely transfer to buses.

Where Do Corps Stay While Touring?

When a corps stays overnight at a rehearsal camp or while traveling, it is usually in a school facility (gymnasium or other suitable space). Some corps use hotels, dormitories, churches, armories or other facilities capable of hosting a group of that size.

While on tour, Drum Corps International generally arranges for corps housing. In some cases, a corps may arrange its own housing. This might happen if the corps or someone on the corps' staff has a relationship with a specific school or facility. DCI has a Corps Housing Coordinator who evaluates potential housing sites based on DCI's standards, which includes access to rehearsal fields, sleeping and shower facilities, as well as power/water access so the corps can provide food services.

When staying at schools or other facilities that do not have beds – which are most housing sites – students sleep in their sleeping bags on gym floors or other available space. Most corps recommend students carry an inflatable mattress or pad. DCI even has a corporate partnership with AeroBed.

The specific procedures and regimens that a corps follows with respect to housing vary between corps. Check with your student's corps regarding specifics of how the corps is housed and what rules/procedures they follow when on tour.

Housing corps during the tour is one of the most challenging aspects of DCI's operations. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get access to facilities, with year-round school, liability/safety, and cost all being critical factors. If you believe you can help DCI find suitable housing and/or rehearsal sites for corps during the tour, please contact us today.

How are Students Fed at Rehearsal Camps and on Tour?

While on tour or at audition/rehearsal camps, most corps take responsibility for feeding students. To fulfill that responsibility, most corps operate mobile kitchen facilities. A World Class corps expects to feed 150 members, along with approximately 25 instructional and 25 support staffers four times a day while on tour. In a typical summer, Drum Corps International units will feed their combined 5,000 performers and staff a whopping 1.2 million meals!

If a corps does not have a mobile kitchen, they likely feed students through a combination of pre-packaged foods, delivery food services and stops at restaurants or other dining facilities. The extent to which the corps provides food and food services will help determine how much money your student will need to have while on tour or at rehearsals.

What Insurance Does My Son or Daughter Need?

Specific insurance requirements will vary from corps to corps. Some corps will require that the students have a medical insurance policy. Others, especially those affiliated with the Boys Scouts, may offer some medical insurance through that affiliation. The best course of action is to check with the corps, and, more than likely, if your student has medical insurance, leave it in effect.

What if Someone is Injured or Gets Sick at a Camp or on Tour?

In the case of illness or injury while at camp or on tour, the corps will likely attempt to treat it by appropriate means, unless otherwise designated. Many corps have nurses or other medical personnel who travel with the corps. This lets the corps provide professional treatment of most minor illness or injuries without engaging emergency room facilities. When your student joins a corps, the group will likely provide emergency procedures and emergency contact information. Check with them for the specifics.

What Kind of Supervision Do Students Have With the Corps?

The first line of supervision in many corps is the students themselves. Most corps place a large responsibility for corps conduct on the student leadership.That said, corps travel with a substantial complement of adults, both staff and volunteers. The touring entourage of a World Class corps usually includes 15 to 25 instructional staff members, 10 to 15 support volunteers, including medical staff, and an additional 10 to 15 management and support personnel. For the bulk of the tour, students are rehearsing. During this time they are under the direct supervision of the instructional staff.

Many corps have "contracts" or "agreements" members must sign and agree to as a condition of participation. Issues addressed in these agreements include attendance and tardiness policies, conduct while in uniform, bus etiquette, peer and staff relationship etiquette, smoking and illegal substance use. These contracts are a clear acknowledgement of what is expected and what the consequences are if those expectations are not met. It is also common for a corps to have very specific guidelines relating to adult staff/volunteer and student interaction.

For the specifics of tour supervision, check directly with the corps in which your student is interested in joining.

How Can I Stay in Contact With My Son or Daughter While on Tour?

Most corps facilitate several ways for students and families to stay in contact when the corps is on tour. Contact the specific corps regarding its recommended methods of communication. Examples of communication channels some corps support include:

Designated mail stops where you can send mail that the corps picks up as they tour.

Cell phones. Most corps allow students to use cell phones on personal time, however check with your corps for specific cell phone use and charging policies.

Most corps discourage students from bringing laptops and other valuables on tour, so e-mail use will likely be limited to any public access sites the corps encounters, or any capabilities on your student's phone.

How Much Money Does My Son or Daughter Need to Bring?

The amount of money a student needs on tour varies from corps to corps, with the key determinant being meal policy. Most corps assume responsibility for providing meals while on tour. On some occasions, a corps may stop at a restaurant, in which case, the student will likely have to pay for the meal.

Generally because of extensive rehearsal and travel schedules, students are not likely to have much opportunity to spend money. Items for which a student might need cash include snacks, laundry, souvenirs or money to spend on "free days" – those days during the tour when a corps doesn't practice and spends the day visiting attractions or a city.

Most corps recommend not bringing a substantial amount of money on tour because of the potential for loss. Some corps even have "banks" whereby students can deposit their money with the corps and then make withdrawals during the tour as needed. This is a good way to protect against loss. ATM cards are also an attractive alternative to cash, as are student-oriented credit cards that track use and can easily be reloaded by the family.

Where Can We Get News About DCI and the Corps?

Drum Corps International has several information resources available to all followers and fans of drum corps. One is DCI's official Web site, DCI.org, where you can get news and updates about DCI corps year-round. DCI.org is also the place to review event schedules, scores and recaps from competitions, purchase tickets and buy DCI and corps merchandise.

You can also check out DCI's Fan Network at TheFanNetwork.org. This multimedia site provides a substantial amount of information about the corps year-round. The corps themselves actually produce much of it. A significant amount of premium content, including live Webcasts of events, is available to paid Fan Network subscribers. Audio and video downloads of past and present corps performances also are available to purchase.

A great way to have information about events and the corps delivered directly to your e-mail inbox is by subscribing to DCI's free e-newsletters. Drum Corps International's weekly DCI.now, and its Box Office and Merchandise Alerts keep you informed on the latest news, information, events coming to your area and special offers. Join these mailing lists and more on the DCI.org homepage.

DCI's flagship print publication "Drum Corps International Magazine" is the official magazine of Marching Music's Major League™. Each issue of DCI Magazine includes feature-length articles, educational offerings, full color images of the participating corps, as well as schedules for upcoming events and ticket information. Published three times a year, you can purchase a subscription to DCI Magazine at store.DCI.org.

For detailed information about a specific corps, we recommend visiting each corps'individual Web site. You can locate contact information and links to each Drum Corps International unit online at DCI.org/corps.

Here's a quick list of many of the informational resources DCI and the corps make available to the drum corps community:
  • DCI.org – News, schedules and results.
  • DCI.now – E-newsletters with current information about upcoming events, current results and other timely issues. Multiple editions available related to news, events, tickets and merchandise offers.
  • DCI Fan Network – Performance, practice and on-the-road audio and video of the corps and select event Webcasts. Audio/video downloads of past and current performances. Some premium content requires a paid subscription.
  • Drum Corps International Magazine – Official publication of DCI, published three times a year. Available by paid subscription.
  • Corps Web sites – Information about each individual corps.

How Can I Find Out About Competitions and Events?

The best place to learn about shows and events is online at DCI.org. Click on the "Schedule" tab to see a calendar of events, with the corps lineups, show locations, dates, times and ticketing information as it's available. The schedule section also allows you to search events by an individual group to see only the events in which that corps is participating.

How Can I Learn About Events Close to My Home?

As the summer approaches, in the DCI.org schedule section you'll be able to search for events closest to you by zipcode and even plan your trip with Google Maps. You can also subscribe to the DCI.now e-newsletter which includes a weekly schedule during the summer months, and the Box Office Alerts e-newsletter which includes information about select events based on your location. You can subscribe to all of Drum Corps International's e-mail newsletters on the DCI.org homepage.

How Do We Get Tickets to Events?

You can purchase tickets for many events online directly from Drum Corps International. The best way to determine which events DCI is ticketing is by clicking the "Tickets" tab from from the DCI.org homepage. For events not ticketed by DCI, check the "Schedule" tab for ticketing and other event information. You can also purchase tickets to events for which DCI provides ticketing services by calling 317.275.1212.

Tickets for the DCI World Championships are available in several ways. First, each of DCI's corps has an allotment of tickets it makes available to its fans and families. If you are a supporter or are affiliated with a corps, check with them about Championship ticket availability. Alternatively, you can purchase Championship tickets directly from Drum Corps International, either singularly through Ticketmaster or as part of a Championship ticket package if available.

Fans looking for the "best seats in the house" can join DCI's "Friends of DCI." Members of this program get ticketing priority and (depending on your "Friends" level) other benefits. Learn more about the Friends of DCI program at DCI.org/friends or by calling 317.275.1212.

How Can I Find Out the Results of a Competition?

The best place to get the results from DCI-sanctioned events is online at DCI.org/scores. Results are posted within minutes of the conclusion of each competition. Some corps will also post results on their Web sites, but DCI.org is the only place to see the recap sheets for each event which breaks out all of the scoring results in detail.

Is My Son/Daughter the Right Age?

Prospective corps members who are under age 22 as of June 1 of the summer season are eligible to compete. Minimum age limits vary, as they are set by the individual corps. Check with the corps you are considering to determine if it is age appropriate for your son or daughter.

DCI's audition information page at DCI.org/audition includes an age eligibility calculator to help you figure out the cutoff.

Which Level of Participation?

Drum Corps International sanctions and oversees three classes of performance and competition. Each has unique performance and operational characteristics. In selecting the right class for your student, give deep consideration to the time and financial commitment required, family and peer group issues, as well as the student's talent and experience.

The class of corps right for your child depends on the level of commitment they want and CAN make, their talent level and what resources – time and money – they have available. While World Class corps tend to travel consistently from the middle of June until the World Championships in August, many Open Class corps perform only on weekends until the week prior to the Championships. This often makes it possible for Open Class students to also hold jobs during the drum corps season. Additionally, several World Class corps like the Pacific Crest and Jersey Surf offer a limited touring model, starting their tours in mid-July rather than mid-June.

The three classes of competition and participation sanctioned by Drum Corps International include:

World Class corps can have up to 150 members. Students in World Class corps are primarily college-age with some high school involvement. Most corps that compete as World Class corps follow an intensive tour schedule, traveling more than 10,000 miles over the course of the summer, while performing at more than 35 sanctioned events.

Open Class corps have a minimum of 30 members up to the maximum of 150. Most Open Class corps have a membership made up of a mixture of high school and some college-aged students. Open Class corps generally follow an abbreviated tour schedule relative to most World Class corps.

International Class corps are corps from outside North America. Often traveling long distances to perform as part of the annual summer tour, corps in this class are allowed to follow their own country's organizational (usually age limit) guidelines. If they choose to recognize Drum Corps International performance rules, they are allowed to compete in the Open Class.

Finding the Right Corps

Once you decide on the appropriate class of competition, you need to determine a specific corps. Each corps is unique in the education, experience and traditions it offers students. Therefore, the right corps choice for your student will require an understanding of the particular corps he/she would like to join. Some corps can be very demanding, and having a solid marching band or drum corps background helps. But experience isn't always necessary, and some organizations may be ideal for beginners.

If the student is committed to participating with a DCI group, it may be advisable to have a fallback option should they not make the roster of their first choice. In a survey conducted prior to the 2008 season, 1,100+ World Class students revealed the primary factor in their corps selection was the educational opportunity offered by that corps. What makes a corps "right" for a student depends on a number of factors including location, corps schedule, cost, age, friends and family, and the student's objectives, such as education.

If your son or daughter needs or wants to work during the summer, then the corps options are likely narrowed to an Open Class corps or one of the World Class corps that offers a limited-touring model.

Other factors that should be considered include where other friends and family members perform, how many events the family will be able to attend and whether or not you (the parents) want to volunteer to help the corps. Talent and ability will also be a key determinant of which corps a student can perform in.

Aside from actually traveling and performing with a corps, nothing helps the student understand the DCI corps experience more than going through the audition process and attending audition camps which typically take place beginning in November through the winter. Even spending just one weekend with a corps will give a student a great educational experience. In addition, corps encourage prospective members to audition so they can receive an assessment of their talent and ability. Regardless of whether your student attends a camp or auditions for a corps, they should talk to current and former members of any corps of which they are considering being a part of.

A complete list of corps contact information can be found online at DCI.org/corps.

The Audition Process

The audition process begins at the end of the current season, or in some cases, even sooner. Students need to expect to start the audition process (especially for a top-tier World Class corps) in September. Most corps will hold their first camps around Thanksgiving weekend in November. The specific audition process and requirements for each corps differs, but a general outline of the audition process for DCI's top-tier corps is:
  • Submit application and audition tapes and/or videos as requested by the corps.
  • For the audition camp, students need to work in advance on the audition materials and show up prepared (Note: there are usually camp and audition fees. Check with the specific corps for details.)
  • Attend audition camps. (Some corps hold audition camps at locations around the country, not just in their hometown.)
  • If invited to attend additional rehearsal camps, come prepared. (Corps are likely to have several off-season rehearsal camps, typically once a month.)
  • Make it through the rehearsal camps.
At various points during this audition process, select students are invited to continue. If a student is "cut," the corps attempts to provide the student with an evaluation and recommendations for improvement. In some cases, it may recommend the student participate in another corps. There are some World Class corps, in particular, the Blue Devils, Santa Clara Vanguard and Colts that offer an Open Class corps as part of their organization for students looking for a different experience.

Some corps offer special educational "What It Takes" (WITS) camps for students who are not quite ready to make that corps' roster. If your student does not make the roster of his/her select corps, and he/she doesn't want to be part of any other DCI drum corps, then a WITS camp may be a suitable next step.

Volunteer With a Corps

There are many points of light in the drum corps volunteer universe. Most of them are with the corps and sometimes with Tour Event Partners, who rely on volunteer energy to stage their events. DCI itself has some limited volunteer opportunities as well.

The best way to find out about volunteer opportunities is to contact the specific corps you would like to support for more details. Some opportunities, such as bus and vehicle drivers, may require special licensing or certification. One of the crucial needs corps have while on the tour is professional medical help. Other typical volunteer opportunities include merchandise sales and cooking. Cooking four times a day for 200 hungry people can test the limits of even the most adroit culinary experts!

View a complete list of corps contact information at DCI.org/corps.
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