Drum Corps International
Authors pen books about marching music experiences

Authors pen books about marching music experiences

by Drum Corps International

In 1994, G.M. Kuzma, a Blue Knights "age-out," kept a detailed daily journal of the corps' summer tour. "My first experience with drum corps was basically a series of misadventures where I grew from a boy to an adult," says Kuzma. "After a few days with the Blue Knights, I knew I was going to have an interesting story to tell. From that point on, I wrote something down every day. I published it because I wanted to show everyone that the Blue Knights are a class act. Marching with the Blue Knights changed my life for the better." The journal became the memoir "On the field, from Denver, Colorado... the Blue Knights!"



There is no fictional voice for band. But the experience needs to be shared with everyone and be legitimized.



For several years, Kuzma's was the only book available that spoke directly to drum corps veterans and fans. This year two authors have joined him: Courtney Brandt, author of "The Line," a novel about competitive high school band; and Jeremy "Spike" Van Wert, author of "Not for the Faint of Heart," about his experiences in the Santa Clara Vanguard.



Both authors were inspired by their own experiences of participation in competitive marching activities and felt the need to share those experiences with a wider audience. Despite a potential fan base that includes thousands of drum corps members and veterans and many more students who participate in marching bands, says Brandt, no writer is addressing the common experience of these young people. "All we have is the stereotype of the 'band nerd,'" she says. "There is no fictional voice for band. But the experience needs to be shared with everyone and be legitimized."



While Brandt did not participate in drum and bugle corps, she was a member of a competitive high school drum line in Atlanta, and many of her fellow marchers went on to have drum corps careers. "I think anyone who has taken part in the competitive marching experience could identify with this story," she says of her novel.



Brandt – like Kuzma – self-published her book, while Van Wert took his efforts one step farther and created a company, Wild Ride Publications, in order to issue his book. "I wanted this to really be an organic process," he says. "I didn't want some publishing company editor taking out half the nuances and details that drum corps people really identify with because they didn't get it. I wanted this to be a drum corps product through and through."



Like Brandt, Van Wert views authorship as a mission to make the marching experience available to a wider audience. "Drum corps changes people – changes the essence of who they are," he says. "Because I was changed by the activity in that way, I wanted to do this as a monument of the activity." He says that many people that have read the book have let him know that they related to his "brutally honest" portrayal of his own experience. "I became a man through drum corps. Many people don't understand that what causes you to grow up in drum corps are those moments in which you are totally down on yourself and come out of it and push to get better," he explains. His memoir is subtitled "My Journey to Manhood in the Santa Clara Vanguard."



More information on "The Line" is available at TheLineBook.com and more information on Wild Ride Publications and "Not for the Faint of Heart" is available at WildRidePublications.com. To learn about "On the field, from Denver, Colorado... the Blue Knights!" visit GregoryMKuzma.com.