Last week was exceptionally busy for the Bluecoats and hundreds of high school marching band students from around the world, as both groups prepared for a joint performance of the Bluecoats' opener from the corps' 2007 program "Criminal" at the DCI Central Illinois event in Normal on Friday, June 29. Through the one-week program at the Music For All (Bands of America) Summer Symposium, students were given the opportunity of a lifetime to take the field with the Bluecoats, while also learning about many aspects of music and leadership along the way. "The students have been excited the entire week, and they're just having a blast," said Michael Utesch, a facilitator from the Summer Symposium's team SWAG. "They have been working very hard and they just amaze me. It's beyond comprehension how they can put all this together in just four days, and then be at a point where they can be on the field with the Bluecoats." The marching band students rehearsed the show music on their own for about a month before meeting at their first ensemble rehearsal on the campus of Illinois State University on Monday, June 25. After rehearsing together for three days, the students met with the Bluecoats for the first time on Thursday afternoon to rehearse the show music, and the entire group rehearsed the marching drill formations together for the first and only time the afternoon before the Friday evening show.

Highlights from the joint Bluecoats and Summer Sympoisum marching band performance.

Music For All makes this summer opportunity available to anyone around the world. Students do not even have had to march a single step in their lives, just have the passion and desire to learn about music and perform with other incredible musicians. "The Summer Symposium is a great chance for students who love music and who don't always get the performance opportunities they deserve, to come and join others that are passionate like them," said Kyle McBane, a student conductor form Carmel High School in Indiana. "It gives musicians the chance to march, work together, and build leadership with other students. I've met a lot of really cool people here, and it's just been a great experience." This week also has been a good experience for the Bluecoats. Although the corps had to flip their rehearsal schedule around to accommodate the high school students, they feel very lucky to have been a part of this yearly event and to have been able to influence the students in a positive way.
"I could definitely tell that the students were enjoying the rehearsals we had. They were enthusiastic and seemed really happy to be performing with us," said Zach Chamberlin, a member of the Bluecoats. "I really think we made a good impression on the kids too, so this experience was totally worth all the extra work." The group's performance at the end of the Drum Corps International competition exceeded many expectations as fans gave them a well deserved standing ovation. Everyone's hard work certainly paid off, and the Bluecoats also have left a lasting impressing on many of the students who will now start preparing for their fall marching band programs. "I'm a huge drum corps fan, and now I really want to be a part of this activity," said Brad Beadles from Greer High School in South Carolina. "When I get home I'm planning on practicing a lot so I can be in a corps some day."