I find myself in a bit of an odd position this summer. For the first time in five years, I won't be spending my summer living in the drum corps world. Every ageout has to have this experience eventually. No one can stay on tour forever (although some of us might wish we could). I managed to put it off for a couple of years by working for a corps, but even I figured out that it was time to do something different for a couple of summers. And I'm looking forward to sleeping a decent amount, having time to practice, catching up on my reading and spending some time with friends and family – all things that are in short supply when you're trying to meet the needs of 150 or so people as an assistant tour manager.

Emily Tannert
But at the same time, as the weather has warmed and the school year has ended, I find myself looking at the sky thinking, "this is a perfect drum corps day." And as I drive past empty football fields, I recall similar stadiums that I marched in. I realize that this year, I won't wake up in a new place every morning, I won't engage in the daily search for the diet soda, I won't have the excitement of "Regional Saturdays" and the march to Finals. For the last five years, I've associated summer and freedom from schoolwork with drum corps; suddenly that's not my frame of reference. It's not a bad thing, but it's a bit disconcerting. I think most of all I'll miss all my corps friends. I'll see them at shows, of course, but there's a difference between participating in the daily grind and just running into someone in the lot. While the love between two corps people never changes, a natural separation develops between those on tour – who are in the thick of things – and those not on tour, who are on the outside looking in, reminiscing, admiring, even envying. Even on the worst days, it's almost always better to be on the bus at the end of the night than standing on the curb waving to the bus. But at some point, each of us has to move on, to rejoin the "real world." I don't regret my decision to stay home this year. Already it's allowed me the freedom to do some things I've always wanted to. So the point of this all is to say: Yes, I miss drum corps; I still love corps; it will always be important to me. But there's more to life, and summertime, than corps. When you're marching, it's hard to imagine doing anything else or being anywhere else – as evidenced by the many teary eyes (my own included!) on the field at DCI's annual ageout ceremony. But, much like the process of getting over the end of a great relationship, you eventually realize that drum corps isn't life, it's just a part of life. And eventually, it's time to experience other parts of life. After all, you can still go visit the drum corps world – you just don't have to live in it full time.
Emily Tannert is a music education/percussion performance major at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., and holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. Emily graduated from the Glassmen in 2003 and was assistant tour manager for the corps in 2004 and 2005. You can contact Emily at emily@imoses.com.