Sometimes I'm surprised about the different ways that drum corps inspires its fans, and how many different ways fans make drum corps part of their daily life. Now we learn that drum corps can be good for your health and help you get in shape. Zach Malsom is a 24 year-old technology consultant based out of Grand Rapids, Mich. He played trombone and bass trombone throughout high school and college and continues to play through membership in a local jazz big band. Zach shares his story as an avid reader of the columns on DCI.org and a daily visitor to drumcorpsplanet.com . The following are his words. On the morning of May 10, 2003, I completed something that four months previous I never would have thought possible: the 25k Fifth-Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Mich. In early January 2003, a co-worker and avid runner suggested that I train to run in the 26th annual River Bank Run. My first reaction was to laugh out loud, but for some reason my thoughts shifted to, "Why not?!" My job takes me on the road most weeks, so I try to do what I can to stay in shape. (Eating out EVERY night can catch up to you!) Still, at that point, I'd never run more than three miles at one time in my life. Luckily, the Internet provided me with a training calendar to prepare for the race. After reviewing it, I knew I was in for an uphill battle. Three miles is quite a bit different than 15.5 miles (25k). The calendar had me running moderate distances throughout the week, with the longest distance always on Saturday. Before the first weekend run of five miles, I went out and purchased all the attire I needed: Running shoes, socks, shirts, pants, gloves and a cap. After the first Saturday run of five miles, I knew one of two things needed to happen. Either I was going to sell all the equipment I bought the day before, or I was going to need to find some inspiration to get me through the training and through the race. I considered option one simply due to the fact that I couldn't walk for a couple days. It seemed like I had no choice! Fortunately, muscles heal, and I decided to get motivated. Luckily, my inspiration was a no-brainer ... drum and bugle corps. In the past few years, I've become a huge drum corps fan, but unfortunately just a fan. Allow me to give a little background. I was a dedicated band student while I attended Newaygo High School and loved every minute of it. That love for music stayed with me during my four years at Central Michigan University, three of which I performed with the university marching band. I was first formally introduced to drum corps during my senior year at college when a friend of mine popped in the 2000 DCI finals video. Of course, I was instantly hooked. I wanted to be in one of the corps so badly; I could taste it. Unfortunately, that was the same night that I discovered that I was already too old to compete the following summer, a circumstance that will haunt me until the day I die. After my buddy forced me to give the video back, I began educating myself about the different corps and started collecting videos, CDs and DVDs of performances from throughout the years. I'm a HUGE fan of the Legacy DVDs and the 2000, 2001 and 2002 DVDs. The week after I completed my collection of VHS tapes (1988 through 1999), the Legacy DVDs were announced. No lie. I was mad at first, but then I broke down and bought my first set of six Legacy DVDs. I've been adding to the collection every few months ever since. Needless to say, all of my old VHS tapes now belong to my brother-in-law. Had it not been for the DVDs, I wouldn't have discovered the Velvet Knights, Freelancers, Suncoast Sound, 27th Lancers, etc. I know from reading the posts on Drum Corps Planet, there are a lot of other great corps that I still need to "discover." I always try to pop in a Legacy DVD when I have a drum corps newbie over to my place, just to give them a taste of what it's all about. In fact, in the summer of 2001, my former college roommate, brother-in-law, and a couple high school friends make the trek down to Indianapolis for the DCI Midwestern Championships. Out of us five, only two of us had ever been to a drum corps show. During the show, I vividly remember my brother-in-law turning to me after Madison Scouts made their opening statement and simply saying, "Goosebumps, dude. Goosebumps." After the show, they couldn't stop talking about how close the Cadets, Blue Devils, and Cavaliers were. I think some bets were made that night as to which corps was going to take the title that summer. Fast-forward to today, and you'll find a drum corps-crazed fan that can't get through the day without soaking in the sounds of the raw power that is drum corps. The shows got me through some all-nighters in college and continue to get me through the day-to-day activities at work. (Thank goodness for headphones!) So, when I needed something to get my spirits up and my legs moving, drum corps provided the answer. During each of my runs, I brought the sounds of my favorite shows with me. They, more than anything, pushed me towards my goal. Every summer, over a thousand of marching masters fight through months of pain and exhaustion in order to reach their "finish line" of producing the best show they possibly can. Every time I wanted to quit during my run, I simply had to remember those summer warriors and listen to the supporting arguments coming out of my headphones. I easily had about five to six hours worth of randomly-selected DCI finals performances to listen to while running. I could go on for a long time about the shows, but I'll pick the top six that really stick out for me. I know I'm leaving out a TON of great corps and great years. 1987 Santa Clara Vanguard ("Russian Christmas Music," "Dance of the Tumblers," "Lezghinka," "Lullaby," "Hut of Baba Yaga," "Great Gate of Kiev"): Don't ask me how Vanguard's rendition of "Russian Christmas Music" can get the blood flowing, but it sure does the trick. 1988 Blue Devils ("Happy Days are Here Again," "Old Black Magic," "Goodbye Yesterday," "Since I Fell for You"): This is a perfect, soothing show to listen to when I need to calm down. 1990 Star of Indiana ("Belshazzar's Feast"): As a brass player, I can't get enough of this show. I always remember the reaction of the drum major and the staff during the finals performance from the DVD near the end of the show. That gets me fired up. 1992 Cavaliers ("Revolution!": "Gavorkna Fanfare," "Cornish Dances," "English Dances," "Peterloo Overture"): Not only was this show simply amazing, but The Cavaliers went up against some tough competition from the Cadets of Bergen County, Star of Indiana, and Blue Devils to accomplish something they had never done before ... their first DCI World Championship. That's something I always thought of while I was trying to prepare and complete the race. 1993 Phantom Regiment ("The Modern Imagination:" "The Land Workers," "The Wheat Dance," and "Danza Final" (all from "Estancia"), "The Fire of Eternal Glory," "Death Hunt"): "Death Hunt" was without a doubt the most played song while training. It helped to have the visuals going on in my head at the same time the music was playing. Every time I heard the part in the show where the crab wedge takes place, I always got a boost. I also got a boost during the end of "Fire of Eternal Glory." 1995 Madison Scouts ("A Drum Corps Fan's Dream:" "El Toro Caliente," "Concierto de Aranjuez," "La Danza Pasillo," "Malaga"): Intense, intense, intense. If anyone is looking for inspiration to do ANYTHING, look no further. 1996 Phantom Regiment ("Defiant Heart -- The Music of Dmitri Shostakovich": "Fourth Ballet Suite (Introduction)," "First Symphony (Second Movement)," "Symphony No. 5 (Finale)"): Another first title. This show poured more emotion than any I can think of. The Regiment willed themselves to the crown that year, and that group willed me to keep going. 1997 Cadets ("Celebration:" "Celebration," "Year of the Dragon"): Luckily this show came on during the home stretch of the race. I needed the tempo to get me across the finish line. This show certainly delivers in that area. 1998 Crossmen ("A Metheny Portrait": "Third Wind," "Letter from Home," "First Circle"): Just some hot Pat Metheny to get the body moving. 2000 Blue Devils ("Methods of Madness -- Cinematic Music of Bernard Herrmann": "Taxi Driver," "On Dangerous Ground," "Fahrenheit 451," "Vertigo," "North by Northwest"). If I needed an outlet for anger or pain, I would listen to this show. In the end, the sounds of drum corps carried me all the way to the finish line at the 25k Fifth-Third River Bank Run. On a beautiful Saturday May 10, I ran a great race and beat my personal goal of 10 minutes per mile by running 9:31 per mile. If I could thank each and every member of drum corps throughout the years, I would. When I run the race again next year, they'll be right there with me. Zach Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.
He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a masters degree in music theory and composition.
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.