We last heard from Karla Marquez in the Nov. 19, 2004, installment of Fanfare, "Learning About the Past (and Belleville's Black Knights)." Now that the season is upon us, many marchers are thinking about their last season, that of their ageout year. Karla asked me for my input into the matter, which I'll share after her contribution. This will be my last season marching drum corps. Last summer I had the privilege of marching with the Sacramento Mandarins, and wow, it was such an incredible experience. Talking about history, the moment I stepped into my first camp I got a feeling of -- I don't know how to describe it -- family, tradition, pride? It was a combination of all those words and more. Well, those first five minutes in camp were enough to make me realize that I had found my place and I was willing to ageout with the organization. Ageout -- those words gives me chills. I have a question for you: As your ageout season began, did it feel different? Did you feel nervous? Were you happy? Were you sad? I get so nervous about it that sometimes it distracts me from schoolwork. Being a distracted student in the chemistry lab is not a good thing. April is one of the toughest months of the year. Usually the first full corps camp I attend is in April. After camp, I return to school on Monday, walking and moving slower than the week before. People ask me "What's wrong?" I respond, "I had camp this weekend" and proceed to explain what camp is. Next year, I won't have to do that. Next year, I can take a vacation during Memorial Day weekend. Fourth of July will be a chance to meet up with friends and go to the beach, not the day I have to march a parade. There are too many words that explain how I feel about this being my final season. When I heard the horn line and drum line play the opener for the first time on the field, I felt tears form in my eyes. The music sounded so beautiful and powerful, it made me feel excited, sad, anxious, and nervous. There are a couple of months before I hear this music for the last time on a football stadium. When I joined Mandarins, I decided to take the Greyhound between Los Angeles and Sacramento (it's much cheaper roundtrip). It is during that eight-hour drive that I sit and think about what I need to do at rehearsal and in my head review all the work that we have learned. But lately I started thinking about the "A" word: Ageout. During my bus rides up to and down from Sacramento, all I can think about is "What will I leave on the field?" "How can I make this season the best ever?" "How am I going to stay in shape?" I know I am not the first person who has marched and felt this way. I probably feel the exact same way as someone who aged out 20 years ago. It is this sense of history, and knowing that I have something in common with many others, which has helped me realize that drum corps is not only a community. It is a family. A family that will still be a part of me after I ageout. It will just feel different not spending so much time with my family. How was life after aging out? What did you do with your summers? I'd ask people I know but I feel a little crazy. I'm sure it sounds strange that I'm so preoccupied with the subject, but hey, you only ageout once. Maybe if you addressed this subject in a future column it could really help all those people who have pre-ageout jitters like I do. My response to Karla follows. Karla: I'm not sure if I could put all my feelings about aging out in one column. It was surreal, traumatic, brought relief, joy, sadness, made me feel up, made me feel down -- got the picture? The emotions were quite contradictory. Now, it was likely different for me than most because I graduated from college three months before I aged out, where most age out and then go back to college. The way most experience it has got to be better -- I had to search for a job while touring with the Cavaliers. It wasn't easy and I didn't get a teaching job until after tour was over. I strongly encourage you not to look at aging out as the end of something, but the beginning of a new chapter of your life. I can tell you that after aging out, I had drum corps dreams for about a year afterwards. Once, DCI World Championships was being held in my basement, once the Cavaliers stopped by to change for a parade in my bedroom, once I was on the starting line and realized I had no idea what the music and drill was -- etc., etc. However, there was one thing that "cured" me, and I'm going to practically insist that you do it, likewise. Without a doubt, make plans now, put it on your calendar, save up your pennies, do whatever it takes -- but GO TO THE DCI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS after you ageout. I decided to do the same less than a week before World Championships in Denver in 1978. It was almost a spur-of-the-moment situation. I drove out, got tickets and watched prelims and finals. And it was the best thing I could have ever done. It showed me that it was fun to be a SPECTATOR. Being a spectator and an observer eventually led me to what I'm doing now -- sharing myself as a writer for the DCI program books, CD and DVD liner notes, show reviews, interviews, and the big blessing, Fanfare, where I open it up to others. I'm more connected to drum corps now than I was for YEARS after aging out, and I'm loving it all. So, don't despair. Grab the reality and turn it into your favor. There's a lot you can do after marching. I strongly feel the best thing one can do to get over the sadness of no longer marching is to do something in drum corps for others. I write, some instruct, some volunteer. Give back to those coming up and you won't have time to think about your own sadness. Wow, I wasn't expecting to sit here and write all this on the spur of the moment, but you unleashed something within me, and that's good. Now unleash something within yourself. Your contributions to drum corps don't end when you ageout. And if you don't write, instruct or volunteer, contribute by sitting in the stands and clapping for all those on the field. I tell you, being a spectator is HIGHLY underrated. God bless. Mike
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.