Interlude is a new section of dedicated to periodically telling the longer, more in-depth stories of the drum corps experience. If you have a longer drum corps essay that perhaps metaphorically relates to larger life, this is the place for it (writers seeking an online clip, here's your chance). Send your completed essays, along with a brief bio and even a picture (and your own e-mail address, if you so choose), to with the subject line "Interlude." We look forward to hearing from you! By Tony Connell As the sun greeted the crisp morning air, the aroma of bacon filled the grounds as the first day of corps camp had arrived. We had been cooped up in the "fire hall" all winter long, and now we were about to embark on three grueling days of marching and music. The year was 1976 and we in the Cambria Cadets were watching a replay of the Madison Scouts play "Rhapsody In Blue" as we dined on our breakfast. Our corps director and horn instructor, Rash Isenberg, asked one simple question: "How much are you willing to do to be like that?"

To this day I can still hear Rash asking that question. It just goes to show how much drum corps really touches the lives of those who participate. I never really answered that question until Garfield in 1983, but it shows how drum corps people are committed to excellence. That is a life lesson we all need to carry.

In a recent issue of The Altoona Mirror (from Altoona Pa.), There was an article about the sad shape of some of the area's bands. It was all about a numbers game, showing the decrease in participation and blaming it on commitment. "A competition band takes up too much of the students' time" was a quotation from a school official. "There are too many sports available for a student to commit to a competition band" is a paraphrased quote from another school official.

I don't think these school officials realize how much they are teaching their kids to commit to mediocrity. These same schools, who promote the number of "opportunities" they have available, are also the schools with losing records in sports and are in the lower half of the learning curve when the state testing scores are published! These are also the same schools who make the best excuses in order to maintain their own dignity. Perhaps they need to learn something from drum corps and recommit to excellence.

My greatest hope for this article is that it helps you other drum corps bum band directors and band parents realize how important music is in helping maintain a healthy learning environment in your schools. Congratulations to the Blue Devils on an awesome show and a great victory this year, and I challenge all of the schools across the nation, "How much are you willing to do to be like that?" John Anthony (Tony) Connell was born on Oct. 27, 1963. He is married and is a father. He began his musical career at the bright young age of 5 as a baritone player for the Cambria Cadets "pee wee" drum and bugle corps. He continued his marching career with the Cambria Cadets through 1980. In 1981,Tony's marching moved eastward to New Jersey, where he marched with the Garfield Cadets through 1983. He was a three-year member of the Bishop Carroll High School marching band, which was under the direction of Jim McCurdy (who was the former Director of the USAF Academy drum and bugle corps). He attended Indiana University of Pa., where he majored in music education, and was a four-year member of the marching band, "Tubaphonium" ensemble and various other concert bands and orchestras. Tony's talents have landed him a host of directing opportunities. He has directed the Bishop Carroll High School marching band, the Cambria Heights marching band, the Cambria Cadets, the Baltimore Colts' Band, and, most recently, the St. John Vianney's Church choir. Tony Resides with his wife and daughter in the small town of Vintondale, Pa. He is the president of marketing for Breakwater International, a multifaceted musical promotional company and record label.