David Ratliff is the assistant band director at Madison Central High School in Richmond, Ky. The band is the defending Kentucky Class AAA Marching Band Champions. For the second year in a row, David's marching drum line was the only high school drum line to participate in the massed marching band that marched the first minute and a half of the Cavaliers show, along with the corps at the Bands of America Summer Symposium in Normal, Ill., on July 1. David spoke about the thrill his drummers had in marching along with the Cavaliers. They're all really excited. They get a chance to get away from home and bond with each other. Some of the freshmen are having their first marching experience with the reigning DCI champions. Chris Perkins, an alum of the school, works with our drum line and helps here.
Brett Kuhn (Cavaliers percussion head) is really gracious about allowing the kids to mesh together. You can tell the Cavies guys are enjoying the moment, but my guys are stressed out because they don't want to be the ones to mess things up -- bringing their sticks up early or whatever. It becomes an older brother/younger brother situation. The winds playing along with the corps number about 150-160, but we're the only other drum line. As a band director, being able to be part of something like BOA and DCI is an invaluable resource for my kids. It's really an honor to play with the BOA marching band track and the drum corps. It creates memories that they'll talk about all year. It's an awesome thing. It also makes me nervous because I marched with the corps in 1991 and 1993. We probably did about 20 hours of practice before we got here and eight hours a day this week, all of it on fundamentals or working on those 90 seconds with the corps. The kids had about three hours with the Cavaliers on the field here. The actual staff for the marching band is from Carmel H.S., Dick Saucedo's staff. Dick did the Cavaliers wind arrangements and also arranged it for the bands, making it a little less difficult for the brass and also adding woodwinds. I rearranged the percussion book to make it less difficult. I'm very proud of our drummers for how hard they worked to get here and I'm grateful to BOA and the Cavaliers for this opportunity. Our kids are really impressed with the sound quality and the attention to detail of the Cavaliers. I think it's inspired a lot of them to practice more and become better. And they know I marched with Cavies, so they want make sure they do well. A lot of them want to audition with the corps.