DUBUQUE, Iowa — While April showers typically bring May flowers, it was an untimely snow storm that faced Colts members at Stephen Hempstead High School the weekend of April 26.

One of the always-present challenges of rehearsing a drum corps in the Midwest is that the lines of the four seasons can blur into one another, sometimes on an hourly basis. It’s just another day at the office for the Colts administrative team, however, as corps members were prepared for anything and everything in their weekend itinerary:

Bring clothes for any weather (snow, rain or heat wave). You may be outside for much of the weekend, working on drill and music. Don’t forget cold weather gear. You just never know. Right now there is no rain scheduled, but Iowa weather can change at the last minute.

Thwarted from going outdoors as a flurry of wet, heavy snow began to fall the morning of Saturday, April 27, Colts staff members quickly reshuffled the schedule to keep things focused inside.

This April’s rehearsal marked the first time that all three sections of the corps came back together under one roof since the group’s first audition camp last November.

“We’ve got a lot going on this weekend,” said Elijah Elmshaeuser, returning this season for his second year as the corps’ drum major. “February was the last time we were together with brass, January was the last with percussion, and November the last with guard. So it’s been awhile since we’ve been all together, but we’re here now working hard on the show for the summer.”

The Colts have been on a steady path of improvement in recent years. The group has bettered its placement each of the past three seasons as the corps looks to recapture a top-12 position that has remained just out of grasp since last appearing as a DCI World Championship finalist in 2007.

“The overall culture that we’re building this year is unlike [anything] I’ve seen before,” Elmshaeuser said. “We took what we had last year and have grown exponentially. I’m very impressed with the leadership team that we have in place and the overall cohesiveness of the veterans with the new members.”


While most of the Colts instructional staff remained intact from the corps’ 2018 season, the organization retooled its design staff this fall with the addition of two well-known players in the marching music arena, including program coordinator Don Click and arranger Robert W. Smith.

“We feel like this will be a little bit of a surprise this year for everybody with having Don and Robert. Obviously that brings some new life to the corps,” brass caption head Chad Miller said. “We’re trying to give the Colts a little bit more teeth this year. We’ve been trying to grow things the past few years and we kind of feel like this is the culmination of all that hard work.”

Still a work in progress among those creative designers, the title and theme of the Colts’ 2019 competitive production is still under wraps at this point as they continue to compose and create to give the production its shape and form.

“This year’s show has a lot more visual flair to it with Don being on board and some very heavy compositional aspects with Robert,” Miller said. “There are a lot of dichotomies that we play back and forth with throughout the show both visually and musically, and it will become very apparent to everyone when they hear it.”

The members of the corps spent much of the weekend rehearsing parts of the first four movements of the production, as they continue to learn and memorize the music to prepare themselves for “move-ins” when the corps gets its spring training rehearsals fully underway May 24 in the Dubuque area.

“As far as the show goes I can say the corps is enjoying everything that we’ve seen so far,” Elmshaeuser said. “We have a drive and passion to perform this music, and I think it’ll take us in a new direction this year.”

Follow the Colts on the 2019 DCI Tour