By Matthew Smith
Seattle Cascades
Recently I was talking to some parents of high school band kids who are interested in marching a corps this summer.

Matt Smith
These parents were recently just introduced to the world of drum corps, so I understand exactly why they felt how they did about the activity. Their number one concern was their child being away from home, and missing it to the point of being "homesick." Homesickness can occur on many levels. Each and every one one of us has something that helps us forget about how much we miss home to a degree. But there is always that one something that keeps us wishing we had a bit of home on the road, or something that makes us wish we didn't have to go home. After talking with these parents after a rehearsal, I decided I would interview corps people and see what their reactions were and how they felt when they got homesick on tour. When I talked with some members from other corps, they had some pretty interesting responses as to why they missed home on tour, but they also gave another side to how that homesickness made them become closer to their corps family. While some weren't as emotional as others, they were quite humorous. Carolyn Nuesch from Jersey Surf was by far the most emotional response. When I asked her what her "homesickness moment" was; she mentioned a moment in the horn arch when she had started to shed tears, and that she wanted to go home. Carolyn Nuesch: When I was with Surf, I was homesick once and started crying in horn arc, it was like first thing in the morning. Well, while I'm standing in arc with tears down my face, I stood next to the lead contra. And he asked me, "What's wrong?" I just said "I just want to go home." I immediately regretted it. He looked at me with the most hurt eyes ever, and said, "This is my home." That afternoon began my real drum corps career, where I realized that home was there. I miss my corps when I'm home more than I miss home when I'm with the corps. Allyson Fairchild, color guard member from the Troopers, had a different experience. Hers was what some people would have begged for on tour, and it was quite humorous. She actually did get to experience a little bit of "home" while on tour, as her friends surprised her at the Boise, Idaho, show. Allyson Fairchild: I got really homesick about halfway through the season. I remember sometimes during breakfast I wanted to go home so I could eat toast. I missed all of my friends, and since I didn't have a cell phone, I only got to talk to them once or twice over the summer. When I got to go home for the Boise show, all of my friends surprised me at my house that night. It was my first summer away from home and I wasn't used to being away for more than a couple weeks or so. I really missed my family right near the end of the season, but everybody in my corps would always say things to cheer me up so that made it a little easier. I really wanted to go home and sleep on my bed instead of a gym floor or the bus. But once I got home, my mom noticed that I would sleep sitting up on the couch instead. I just got used to it I guess. And after being in Florida for a while I wanted to go back to Idaho, where there is a lot less humidity. Brett Jaggers, a snare drummer from Seattle Cascades, was all the way from Texas, marching with people he had never seen before. It was quite an experience for him, and he was only 16 years old! Now I've said in the past that drum corps is like a fraternity -- your audition camp is like a rush event, your audition itself is like the interview, and the waiting and possible acceptance into the corps is the bid of the corps (fraternity) accepting you into the ensemble. Brett really understood the true meaning of what it all was. Brett Jaggers:Well, being younger made it a little more difficult at first having to fend for myself because my mom wasn't there to do it for me. Being away from my family and friends for so long was somewhat hard at times, but the brotherhood that I had formed with the guys on the line completely made up for what I was missing." Taylor Rozenboom, a mellophone player from the Bluecoats, hit it on the spot on how everything merges together while on tour. Taylor Rozenboom: Sometimes I would feel like I was torn between two intense loyalties -- the love of my family and the love of my corps. I felt guilty for being away from home when my mom sounded so lonely on the phone, and I felt guilty for wanting to be home when those around me were giving up just as much as I was to be there. In the end, it was completely worth it. But some nights, the sleeping bag just couldn't beat the familiarity of my own bed. Laundry day made me homesick. Your clothes never smell as good when you do them in a laundromat as when you wash them at home, even if it's the same detergent. And I just can't fold them like mom does. It's really hard at first when everything is new. You want to be loyal to your corps but feel guilty about leaving your family. After a while, though, you realize that it's OK to miss the things that are familiar to you. The loyalties to your corps and the loyalties to your family and friends eventually merge until it becomes apparent -- whether you're sleeping on a gym floor or in your own bed, you're always at home. Uhhh, I could probably have written a book on this while I was on tour, but now that I'm home I think I miss the corps just as much as I missed home while I was away. For those who have never been away from home or for those whose parents have been afraid to let their kids go for extensive amounts of time on trips, drum corps may seem like a huge step. Don't worry -- after attending all the camps, going through every days and finally hit the road for tour, things really do get better. And parents rest assured, your kids will be well taken care off by 134 plus individuals. Everyone's experience with being home sick will be different, many will miss their normal lives terribly and others will moderately. But remember, when you're out rehearsing and on 744-mile bus rides at night, you will be with friends you will have for a lifetime, and suddenly you won't even realize you're away from home. Your home then becomes the experience, and that's when you start to truly let yourself experience drum corps at its best. As you can see with those members I interviewed, they miss corps just as much as they missed home, and just as much as they miss home when they are away. Anyone else out there interested in marching, but don't feel confident that they will be able to make it through the summer? Or if you have marched, and you felt like any of the above members, Please e-mail me, majesm@msn.comor instant message me on line (AIM screen name: bandgeekmatt). Last installment of Accelerando