Drum Corps International
Drum corps rituals

Drum corps rituals

by Drum Corps International

Many times we don't always understand how certain rituals become rituals, why we have to do them to feel complete and why we would feel we're tempting fate if we don't do certain things a certain way at a certain time. The following are responses to a request to share rituals one has been involved with in drum corps. If you have other rituals you'd like to share for a future Fanfare column, send them to Michael Boo at boomike@dci.org. Max Mersinger marched as a euphonium player with Carolina Crown during the 2003 season. I had a few things I did before every show. From the moment I got on the bus at the housing site after "eat/shower/load," I would start up my CD player and listen to my pre-show music that I still use to this day, Disney's "Illuminations from Epcot," Phantom Regiment's rendition of "Amazing Grace" and James Taylor's "Carolina in my Mind." During that time I would look at my horn and make sure it was spotless, then re-tie my shako. Then there was music played on the bus as hype. I know this will sound weird, but at the gate, I would kiss my horn on the underside for good luck. I don't know how this got started. I would then check my uniform one last time on the field to be sure everything was in the right place. Finally, I'd empty my spit valve at the same point during the corps introduction announcement. Without fail, these things happened every night there was a show. Dean Brenneman marched as a member of the Glassmen from 1974 through 1976. This is an "old school" story. After warming up, we would all gather in a circle and be lead through any number of songs by a marching member. As we were singing, our corps director Bill Ellis went around and shook everyone's hand with his lucky silver dollar coin in the palm of his hand. After this, we would all hold hands and sing our corps song, "You'll Never Walk Alone." We had no idea that this was also the Madison Scouts' corps song. No wonder this song did not survive in Glassmen history. After 1985, Dan Acheson came to the corps with his brother, Tom, along with Dave Tippett, Chris Tomsa and others. They were all part of the great Madison Scouts World Championship corps from 1975. After we sang our corps song, the guard made a line and we all walked down that line, hugging and kissing each other. Then—and only then—we were ready to take the field of competition. Heather Brown was a color guard staff member for Memphis Sound and Southwind. I was with Memphis Sound as a guard tech in 2005. The guard would do what most guards do at the gate; circle up, pray and say a few things. There were four other Texans in the guard and for some reason it became a hype for me to sing at the top of my lungs, "The stars at night are big and bright," followed by the guard clapping four times and screaming, "Deep in the heart of Texas." It definitely turned heads and some would ask, "Aren't you guys from Memphis, Tennessee?" The summer of 2006, I was a flag instructor for Southwind. Of the multitude of pre-show rituals, one stood out and lasted all season long. As the corps took the field, the guard staff would always walk to the front 50-yard-line, take off our sandals and proceed to do a prancing rendition of "The Chicken Dance" in cut time. We figured a little good "juju" couldn't hurt.
Editorial assistance from Michael Boo. Fanfare archives.

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