Drum Corps International
Drum Corps as a Love Connection

Drum Corps as a Love Connection

by Michael Boo

Several weeks ago, I spotted an intriguing post on RAMD. David Peterson, a mellophone player with Capitol Sound, asked to hear from anyone who found his or her significant other through drum corps. At the time, there were not yet any responses to the posting, but I was so intrigued by the idea, I asked him if I could "appropriate" it for Fanfare. He said "yes," and a new posting went up on both RAMD and Drum Corps Planet, asking for people to share their stories.

Michael Boo
There were many responses, enough that there will be multiple Fanfare columns on this topic. Here are just a few of those responses. Doug and Debra (Trotter) Peterson have an extensive drum corps resum?©. Doug marched in the Blue Devils "B" Corps from 1978 through 1981, the Blue Devils "A" Corps from 1982 through 1985, drove a BD "A" bus in 1986 and taught the "B" Corps in 1987, before joining the San Francisco Renegades in 2001 and becoming a member of the DCA Champion minicorps. Debra was a member of the 1983 Anaheim Kingsmen and the 1985-1987 Blue Devils. They met in 1985 as members of the Blue Devils and were married on April Fool's Day in 1989. Just a few weeks ago, their 12-year-old son, Kyle, joined the Blue Devils "C" corps to "continue the addiction." When I sent the above to Doug to proof for accuracy, I received the following. "Kyle and I will be performing on stage for the first time together at the Renegades' Loud Music Symposium with combined horn lines playing "America the Beautiful." Not many opportunities in life where you can pursue the activity you love and be a proud father in one fell swoop. And it's a bit strange when your wife understands that you will be gone all weekend playing and gives you grief when you don't practice enough. Somehow I don't think that will translate if I decide to take up golf." One more reason to take up drum corps instead of golf. Matthew D. Markham met his wife, Jessi, through Phantom Regiment. As he recalls, "It actually started out rather innocently. I met Jessi at audition camp back in November, 1990 ... she was one of the first people I met. She claims she knew then that she was going to marry me someday, but, being the guy I was, I couldn't see what I was doing next week, much less in a few years. "We became friends, and I spent the rest of the season giving her Juicy Fruit gum during drill rehearsal whenever the staff wasn't looking and our drill sets were close. I wasn't interested in a romantic relationship at the time for two reasons: She was 17 and still in high school. It just seemed wrong to be dating a girl in high school. Also, I was in an active relationship with someone outside of corps. "We kept in contact some during the off-season, mostly through a few letters (written mostly by her) and a few phone calls. I didn't march Phantom Regiment in 1992, so I didn't have much contact with her that year. In 1993, I marched again. By then, I was single and she was out of high school. Our friendship strengthened, and I finally had some interest for something more. We officially started dating during the Fourth of July weekend, and spent the rest of a wonderful summer together. "On Halloween, I proposed to her in her college dorm room and she accepted. We didn't get married until December of 1995, after a little break where she went off to age out in Santa Clara Vanguard. We just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary, and we have three kids. "We named our first child for drum corps. This has always been difficult to explain to non-drum corps people, since we first have to explain drum corps to them. Only then might they understand. Anyway, his name is Dmitri. In 1993, the year we started dating, Phantom Regiment played "The Fire of Eternal Glory" by Shostakovich. We always thought it would be neat for our child's name to have a connection to our relationship, so we figured that naming him after the composer of our favorite piece from 1993 would make sense. "It also helps that not a lot of kids are named Dmitri (we wanted our kids to have unique names). So the long and short of it is, when we tell a corps person (especially a Phantom Regiment person) that our son is named Dmitri, after Shostakovich, they all say, 'What a cool idea!' When we say that to a non-corps person, they all ask, 'Huh?' "Once we named our first child Dmitri, we had to continue with a theme for names. We didn't have any more corps ideas, so we continued with Russian sounding names for the other kids. So, our second child (a girl) was named Adya, and our third child (another girl) is named Otylia. "I think kids have changed our perspective of a good time far more than drum corps has. Now, a good time is getting the kids to bed early so we can play Uno! "We took our oldest kid, Dmitri (now 5 years old), to several shows. We think he will be a brass player, since he can already get a good buzzing sound on a French horn mouthpiece. John P. Fay started marching in a small fife and drum corps in Queens, N.Y., at the age of 10. In 1977, he saw his first DCI PBS broadcast. A couple years later, at the age of 16, his instructor was recruited to teach another drum line, and he followed. It was there that he met his future wife at a rehearsal, but it lead to nothing. Years went by, and from his humble extracurricular musical beginnings, he marched Crossmen in 1981 and 1982. In early 1984, he was reintroduced to his future wife through a mutual drum corps buddy, and got married in 1987. Their 10-year-old son is now expressing an interest in the activity. John has words of wisdom for all, stating, "Nothing is better than having a partner that understands drum corps." Chalet Harris is director of the Renaissance Foundation for the Performing Arts, Inc. in south central Pennsylvania, the parent organization for the future Renaissance drum and bugle corps. Chalet discovered drum corps in 1991 while answering phones for the DCI PBS broadcast in Harrisburg, Pa. She had volunteered on the pledge drive as a member of her marching band. She met her husband, Brian, while marching Reading Buccaneers senior corps in 1985. He, a drummer, was in his seventh year and she, a mellophone player, was a rookie. Actually, this is one of those "love-at-first-sight" stories. According to Chalet, "I was in college in West Virginia and a friend, Donnie, said he was planning on marching corps somewhere. I didn't have a car, so I told him that wherever he went, I wanted to tag along to march. While visiting a school in western Maryland, he met my future husband, Brian. The two of them started chatting and Brian persuaded Donnie to go to Reading. Due to not having a car, that's where I decided to go, too. "At the first camp, in January, Donnie was going to introduce me to Brian, but he didn't attend camp because he was really sick. When the percussion section came in for lunch, I still remember seeing Brian walk through the door. It was almost like slow motion and I know that sounds hokey, but I was 18 and a lot more romantic. I introduced myself and we instantly had something to talk about, our friend not showing up. "Brian drove about 90 minutes to Shepherdstown, W.V., to pick up Donnie and I for the three-hour ride to Reading. After Donnie quit, Brian and I would talk the entire way up and back, about everything. We met in January, starting dating in April, got engaged in July and married the in September a year later. "Drum corps was a great place to meet and fall in love. We spent entire weekends together. Reading didn't make DCA finals in 1995, but we still had to work hard and deal with staff and show changes. It was great to go through that together. They took off the 1996 season because Brian's new job required him to work weekends. Then they got married and went back to the corps for 1997 and 1998. They now have two children, who they claim are destined to be drummers due to the steady beat they kept during pregnancy. Chalet claims, "There are lots of children that are here because of Reading. The corps is a love connection, as it probably is with all corps. We had lots of married couples marching together. It would be neat to see how many other people have met through corps and are still together helping the activity to grow. " Brian and Chalet are fielding an independent percussion line this winter and hope to start a small corps in the next few years. "We hope that through our foundation, Renaissance, we are able to give the kids of this area a chance to experience what makes us all come back year after year. We are taking our time to make sure we do everything right. Once the corps is established, we will be Division III for a while, but eventually we want to go Division I. "Drum corps has changed my life. It's a passion. I am trying to give as many other people as I can the chance to understand what some of us already know. I remember seeing a shirt that stated, 'For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, none is possible.' I think that is very true."

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