Drum Corps International
A Thanksgiving thought: Only those in drum corps ...

A Thanksgiving thought: Only those in drum corps ...

by Michael Boo

C.M. (Chris) Lopez from Phoenix marched in the Arizona Sun, Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets and Blue Knights from 1992 through 1996. He offers the following thoughts on marching, in addition to his own personal Thanksgiving holiday reflections on something that he is most thankful for. The moment after finals retreat ... The crowd is on its feet cheering and clapping because their admiration cannot be contained anymore. Family, friends, neighbors and alumni -- but most of all the spectators -- smother us with hugs, kisses and flowers. As marching members of drum corps, we know that they were supportive -- through our good shows and bad -- to the end and we thank them for that. Only those who love drum corps understand the fanfare. At the end of the summer, when the final scores are tallied and one corps is the crowned champion, the real emotion of drum corps comes out. The tears, hugs, sayings of "great season" only skim the surface. The pride of placing first is very momentous, but it's not the only reward. Only those in drum corps know that the real reward is what it took to get there. Sometimes, we're asked, "Why did we do it?" Year after year, summer after scorching summer -- why do we endure the long bus rides and having to sleep on hard floors of gymnasiums? Why do we put up with the frustration of perfecting a show only to change it – seemingly -- after every competition? There were broken, blistered or sunburned bodies that need healing bandages, 10 months of 12-hour a day rehearsals, numerous changes to the show and the infinite number of times we had to hear, "One more time!" We do it because only those in drum corps would go back at the beginning of a new season and do it all over. It's extremely rare to find someone who only marched for one year. If they did, you can bet it was because they had to, not because they wanted to leave after their first season. If a corps folded, we found the next closest one. If we didn't have the money, corps would work with us so we could march. We were even allowed to begin marching when there were only a few months left in the season. There was virtually no reason we couldn't march a season. Looking back, it was the small things that made us enjoy the season: The appreciation of music, becoming friends with the person who marches next to you, having to push the equipment truck out of the mud, practicing in the 100-plus degree temperature and being completely drained of energy just to perform a few hours later, seeing the competition and aggressively pursuing the perfection of our own show. There were a million factors and a million stories behind them, but it all came down to achieving our goal. In all honesty, we didn't enjoy it when it happened, but after having to do it a few times, it didn't seem so bad. Then, when we were under pressure to perfect the show, we didn't even notice. Finally, the season was over and we yearned for it. Albert Einstein was right when he stated, "Time is relative." The show is pretty much done in the blink of an eye. Spectators get to sit through 12 minutes of blitzing music with percussion and guard features being pushed as fast as 200 beats per minutes. But for us, the drum corpians, (I'm trying to formulate a new word), the show was nothing more than a blink of an eye. We remember marching on and off the field, but nothing in between. Probably, at least for me, the best part about being a drum corpian was going to each show and dressing down (removing our uniforms) after the show, meeting and hanging out with others from different corps. Relationships were formulated, romantic or platonic, that continue until this day. Marching for the first time in 1992, I met a whole new world of people, people that thought, acted and believed in the same things I did. They were -- and still are -- my best friends. Even today, if I were to run into a fellow drum corpian, we would know each other in a heartbeat. We would remember names, dates, places, what we wore and our hand position when we said it. Spending a whole summer together, day after day, drum corpians don't become friends; they become like members of a second family. To those thinking of marching: Giving yourself to drum corps will result in the greatest, most awe-inspiring event you could accomplish. And after you have your moment, you take a rest and go out to do it again. Rehearsals lead to shows that lead to seasons that lead to memories. Ask anyone who marched drum corps and they'll say, if not in these exact words, "I would give anything to do it one more time." When you get right down to it, drum corps is not about the music. Well, it is, but only to a certain extent. And it's not just about having fun. Drum corps is about being part of something momentous. About giving ourselves in mind, spirit and heart to one moment in time by giving a fantastic show for spectators only for them to say, "How do they do that?" Only those in drum corps will ever know. And if all that isn't enough, Thanksgiving weekend is when every drum corps in America gets together for orientation and audition camp and says, "Welcome Back." C.M. Lopez Fanfare archives 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 master's 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.