Lloyd Kaneko has a message to all who wonder if drum corps helps or hinders one's musical life. After aging out in 1972, I wondered, "What am I going to do with my music skills?" All I can say for those who have recently aged out and who will age out in the near future, the "Phoenix" is in you! At the young age of 53, my musical life is alive and well. My life with drum corps started when I was 8 years old. I played in Cub Scout Pack 379, a feeder corps to the Commodore Perry Scouts in Los Angeles. When I graduated in to the ranks of Boy Scouts, I played baritone for the Commodore Perry Scouts until my first "age out" at 18, as 18 years was the maximum age for Boy Scouts. Thereafter, I performed with the Lynwood/Lakewood Diplomats as a baritone player until I officially aged out at 21 in 1972. Coincidentally, the corps terminated its operations then as well. At the time, I often wondered what would I do with myself after aging out. Well, concentrating on my schoolwork at California State University, Long Beach was my main priority. But after I graduated from drum corps, I was soon recruited for teaching other corps and launched my life into judging as well. Drum corps has taught me a lot of valuable life skills that can be applied to life and other musical activities besides drum corps. Life does not end with drum corps itself, but is only a commencement to greater things in life. Being in drum corps has made me a better oarsman in the sport of crew (rowing) at Cal State Long Beach. I was not the strongest or biggest member of my school's rowing team. But my "internal metronome" enabled me to make an excellent person in the "stroke" position of the shell. When you are the stroke person, other oarsmen depend on you for accurate timing of each stroke. Others depend on you to move the boat effectively through precision timing. Striving for excellence through hard work pays off in your career. I have known other people from drum corps who demonstrated excellent work skills and habits. I can't relate to any specific person, but as a former professional in training and human resources development, I have known drum corps people to have worked harder and with more dedication to excellence than any other person of another background. Hard work skills and dedication to excellence are habits and practices attained through activities such as drum corps, especially by being on the road and putting over 12 hours a day in rehearsal time. The work and efforts pay off! Outside of drum corps, there are many organizations that seek your skills and musicianship. Drum corps, through the practice of repetition, has enabled me to develop and apply my skills of memorization to my second musical life -- that as a baritone singer for a masterworks chorale in Whittier, Calif. I started singing with my church over 24 years ago. I had never sung a note before in my life. My musical life started as a instrumentalist playing trombone for an elementary school orchestra, and later moving to B-flat baritone when trombones were not available in the junior high school band. Around the same time, I was exposed to a baritone bugle and played that for most of my musical life, with a couple of years playing contrabass. I guess by humming and quietly singing my parts, I developed a sense of pitch that I can also apply effectively to my life as a singer. In a sense, I was really developing my vocal chords for the next stage of my musical life. In my days as a church chorister, I started as a tenor. That was my natural range. However, due to spinal stenosis, I had two surgeries for bone fusion in my neck. The first operation changed me from a tenor to a bass. The second operation to re-insert the plate and screws in my cervical spine changed my range from bass to baritone. My rehabilitation of regaining my voice included singing intervals and scales that I learned in drum corps. In 1992, I auditioned and was accepted as a member of a local masterworks chorale in Whittier. Drum corps also taught me how to relax and project my sound on the field. I use the same techniques to project my voice to the back of the auditorium. It's harder to do outdoors in the Hollywood Bowl, but it's fascinating to hear yourself in Carnegie Hall. Of course, I would have never have been able to perform at these places without drum corps influences on me through practice, hard work and dedication. So now you have aged out. What are you going to do now? First of all, no matter what you do, don't let your ongoing education ever cease to exist. Your education should be a life-long part of your life. Continue to explore a wide variety of subjects and topics. If you're interested in music, continue with that idea through a school of higher education. If you've ever sung on the field in unison, take some voice classes and you may surprise yourself to see how to effectively blend your voice with others in harmony as if your voice was your instrument. There are many avenues for one beginning a musical life outside of drum corps. Wayne Bergeron, a friend of mine whom I marched with in the Diplomats, went on to become one of the most popular trumpeters in the recording industry. So going into music as a professional -- especially with the more frequent uses of B-flat instruments -- will make your skills more in demand. Seek out churches that occasionally hire brass musicians during Christmas and Easter seasons. Look into local musicians unions for possible work with orchestras and concert bands. Of course, there are the senior corps in a few regions that will be interested in your skills. Judging organizations are always in demand for new and fresh judges, especially when in comes to the field of pageantry. Other corps and bands could use your skills as instructors. Yet, if you're interested in singing, look up < a href="http://www.chorusamerica.org" class = "navlink" target = "_blank">Chorus America and find a local choral group in your area (professional or volunteer). Don't forget the churches! They are always in demand for good musicians and a singing background is usually not a requirement. Music in schools and communities are in peril. Budgetary cutbacks are endangering programs in schools and community organizations. We cannot let good music talent go to waste in America. Not only do we need to support DCI and its member corps throughout the country, but we have a greater challenge in the survival of bands, choral groups, performing arts groups and just about anything that we treasure as our musical heritage, culture and tradition in America. Don't let it die! You thought that drum corps offered mountains to climb, but the musical world offers even more mountains to climb -- more challenges and more adventures. Drum corps has provided you with the basics -- now go climb other mountains. Keep the music in you and with you always and stay involved!
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.