Drum Corps International
A top 10 of audience participation in drum corps shows

A top 10 of audience participation in drum corps shows

by Christina Mavroudis

This year numerous corps are giving audiences a first-hand chance to participate in their shows right from the stadium seats. Sure, there are normal shout-outs to performers, like the old chestnut "They're always ready!" or the classic "Blow my face off!" but today corps are actually educating their fans on how and when to participate ... like this video primer from the Santa Clara Vanguard for participation in the corps' 2008 program "3HREE."
Here are just 10 of the many ideas that over the years have helped make the energy on the field take a flying leap into the stands:

2007 Glassmen
10. Create your own party.
  • The 2007 Glassmen demonstrated that not all participation has to be vocal! The corps provided fans gold-colored beads to become part of the festivities. Soon, even avid fans of other corps were wearing the beads in celebration of the corps.
  • In 1997 Magic of Orlando entered the field Mardi Gras-style complete with umbrellas. Corps members encouraged the audience to clap and sing along to "Lil' Liza Jane."
  • 9. Bring props & play the part.
  • The Madison Scouts' "Pirates of Lake Mendota" show in 1997 was all eye-patches and 'arrrrrrr' with Madison fans living the theme in the stands complete with Jolly Roger flags and shoulder parrots.
  • In the case of the Velvet Knights in the early '90s, the atmosphere was all about fun, which they quickly established by tossing inflated beach balls out into the stands.

  • 2005 Phantom Regiment
    8. Create your own sound effects.
  • The Cavaliers' bass drum cadence off the field is so infectious, the crowd is easily drawn into clapping along. Known as "Iowa," this tradition has been around since the 1960s.
  • In 2005, Phantom "phans" contributed some music by using rainsticks to accompany their Gene Kelly-like character on his walk through the "rain."
  • As we watched above, Santa Clara Vanguard members this year are using snapping, slapping and clapping as a way to get everyone involved in one part of their show.
  • 7. "HUHH!"
  • Back in the '80s, the Blue Devils were involved with getting their fans to bellow a loud grunt. In 1981, the corps introduced the classic "One More Time Chuck Corea." The battery percussion quickly snuck in a guttural shout during a quiet spot. While this was quite popular with corps members, by Drum Corps International rules, the vocalization was not allowed. Instead, with the staff members' help, the audience quickly learned where it was placed and added their own vocals. (Not until 1984 was the vocal prohibition lifted.)

  • 2004 Jersey Surf
    6. Vote!
  • In 2004, Jersey Surf created a buzz by asking the audience - through a spinning wheel of chance - if they should "Finish the Show" or "Take the Penalty!" Encouraged by the crowd, the entire Surf corps took the penalty by stepping over the front sideline and playing at a full volume right up to the front row of stands.
  • Phantom Regiment asks its audience to play Roman citizens in the corps' "Spartacus" program this summer. When the drum major asks the fate of a defeated gladiator on the field, the audience shouts "Die!" Now what do you think would happen if the majority chose 'Live!'?
  • 5. Sing along!
  • This year, the delightful Blue Devils C corps plays "If I Only Had a Brain" from their show "WOZ." Finding it irresistible, parents, friends and fans sing right out loud.
  • 4. Make an entrance.
  • The Bluecoats' "Bloooo!" leaves no question who's arrived. Enough said.
  • 3. Make an exit.
  • Phantom Regiment supporters launched streamers into the air during the corps' 1984 closing piece, "1812 Overture." Legend has it that the stash of streamers to give the fans ran out by the last night of the World Championships, and they had to resort to the hotel equivalent of streamers – toilet paper.

  • 2007 Santa Clara Vanguard
    2. Shout a pre-determined word.
  • Audiences shouted "BEEF!" during the "Hoedown" portion of the 1996 Cadets' "American West" show and "Mambo!" during the 1994 "West Side Story" production.
  • Beginning in the late 1980s Santa Clara Vanguard fans picked a spot in the show to shout "Vanguard!" Since then, the tradition has lived on, even being written into the musical score. Masters of incorporating the one-word audience yell, last year Vanguard even added a second yell of "Eureka!" to go along with the theme of the production.
  • Warning! The beginning of the 2005 Cadets show "The Zone" exemplified how individuals can enhance a moment. Remember the sound of the doorbell ring? A few guys in the front row uniformly said in a high pitched voice: "Who IS it?" But sometimes without thought, individuals can actually be a diturbance to a show. Especially troublesome are unwarranted shouts during a slow or quiet ballad (Everyone remember "KRYSTAAAAL!"?). In these cases, audience participation is strongly discouraged. 1. Stand and cheer.
  • The best way an audience can participate? Easy. A standing ovation at the end of a show works for all corps – all the time.