Drum Corps International
Imagine: A run-through with the giant killers

Imagine: A run-through with the giant killers

by Drum Corps International

As told to Michael Boo On May 2, 2003, we heard from Fran Reno, a Seattle Cascades corps mother. (Feeling a Vibration in the Soul: A Mom Discovers Drum Corps. ) Now, we hear from the son whom she spoke about as introducing her to the wonderful world of drum corps.

Jared Reno
Jared Reno is a member of Seattle Cascades, and marched in 2002 as the corps made history for becoming a DCI Division I World Championship finalist after being in Division III just two years earlier and Division II the previous year. He is writing his own column now for DCI.org, "Run-through." He agreed to share this story for "Fanfare." "You'll Never Walk Alone" In 1999, Casades just missed DCI World finals for Division II & III. The next year they returned, although there almost wasn't a corps, and won Division III at World Championships. 2001 was a new level for the Cascades and an option faced the corps before the season -- should they turn Division I? The corps opted to be a Division II corps for a year and turn Division I the next year, depending on its success. After a silver medal in finals, the corps declared its intention to compete in Division I during quarterfinals. Four short years and the corps had gone from not placing as a Division III corps, to placing as a top-12 Division I corps. My experiences don't date that far back. Mine begin in January 2002, when I showed up for my first camp with the corps. Fast-forward to the early season show in Kelso, Wash., our first full corps retreat of the year. It was an unfamiliar experience for many in the corps to be standing on the field as the scores were announced, as the corps had a lot of rookies and the first two shows were drum major-only retreats. Let me tell you, nothing compares to standing on the field as the scores are announced. You're finally out there, in front of everyone, to hear what the judges thought of what you were able to create and deliver. Sure, the scores are just opinions, but they are opinions that matter in the activity. Ever since we came out the gate, we were chasing the Madison Scouts and Santa Clara Vanguard with hopes of maybe overtaking one of the two powers in drum corps. It wasn't that we wanted to beat them, but it would have been symbolic as it would put us up in the company of the best corps in the activity. We were on the field when Madison was announced in third place, and Seattle Cascades in second place. When Madison was dismissed, they walked to the track in front of the stands, and did something for which we weren't prepared ... they began to sing their corps song. It was a great moment for us standing on the field, because the words seemed to represent everything the activity entailed ... friendships, partnerships and companionships. Whatever your phrase is, drum corps has them all. We weren't embarking on this journey of drum corps by ourselves; we were embarking on it as a corps. Beyond that, we were embarking on it as members of the drum corps world of Division I, with the support of many of the top corps. We also had the support of the Division II & III corps. That was where we came from and we were told by Sal Leone, our corps director, that we were the heroes of Division II & III. We were proof that you could step up and throw yourselves in the top spots if you wanted it bad enough. I didn't have the words to make proper phrases -- just fragments -- when I spoke with my friends. I did manage to utter, "We beat Madison," while on the phone. When in Rome I knew some of the staff ahead of time, which was my main encouragement for marching. They believed I could do it and would benefit the corps, which helped me believe in myself. I wasn't in shape for what the activity had in store for me, but I wasn't going to quit, either. Camps came and went and it seemed as though the corps had progressed, but not enough to make finals. I found out later that the staff thought finals was a long shot for the corps. Well, it's good they never told us that. Our goal was to impress the fans and to make a name for us. It's almost unanimous in the corps that the biggest achievement with that goal came in Rome, N.Y. Prior to stepping onto the field, we all had some time to get together in our sections and just talk about whatever we needed. Every now and then, the mellophones would find it appropriate to dedicate a show. In Rome, I brought up how less than a year ago many families lost loved ones in New York City, how tonight when we perform, let's perform for those people who never got to see the activity, and those that would never get to see it again. I don't know if that had any influence in our minds as we performed, because I can't speak for the others, but our show that night got the crowd off their feet every time we wanted it. We fed them our show, and they fed us pure energy back. We will probably all remember that when the scores were announced and one popular corps was announced before us, there was an audible "Boo" from the audience. There's no better way to know you've arrived than that. Not all of tour was great performances, or moments we'd like to remember. I'm sure the whole corps would love to forget much of our time in one Ohio town. This is the show where we stayed at the same school with Crossmen and Glassmen. Sharing fields involved getting up very early in the morning to make sure we got on our assigned field. Maybe we should have let one of the other corps take it, though. Marching on the field was near impossible because it was like we were in the middle of a swamp. The corps, no matter how hard we tried, couldn't get in the mindset for rehearsal, so when we got to our run-through, it just wasn't to be. We played the opener, and part of "Profanation," before we were stopped by the staff for not trying hard enough. Instead of giving us another chance, they called it a day. Their lesson was that we only get one shot each day. We had to make it count. That night we did our best to bring leaves to the performance, and got the first "box 5" score ever for the corps. "Bring me a Leaf" It has such a meaning to us now. I don't think anyone who saw it will forget the horn line running to a tree, grabbing branches and leaves, and running around the track to meet with Lewis Norfleet, our brass arranger and program coordinator. It was the most eye-opening experience for us. All season we would rehearse very hard. Rehearsal etiquette was built into us from the get-go and we would always try to maintain focus and do our best to make the changes in the show. Sometimes though, it seemed that no matter how hard we worked, we couldn't get the job done. It was because we were trying to retrieve the branch instead of the leaf. "The Leaf" is simply a metaphor for a task at hand. Lewis asked us all to bring him a leaf, so we ran. We didn't hear him right and instead of bringing a leaf, we brought many leaves. We didn't do exactly what he asked. His point was that we all tried very hard, but sometimes we tried hard doing the wrong things. If we just do exactly what we're told, and not try to over-emphasize aspects that don't need to be worked at that moment, then we would be more successful. That night was the Indianapolis show. Lewis asked us to bring him a leaf to the performance. We all knew that making finals at this second regional would give us a great standing heading into Philadelphia, and eventually into Madison. We had an amazing performance in the morning, and all enjoyed a great Cascade yell in the tunnels as we retreated to the exit and put our horns away for a couple of hours. On the way out, Lewis and Steve Menefee (our brass caption head) had a talk with us about the show. There were very few comments made about what we could improve. It was just very congratulatory in telling us how we did what they asked. At that moment, at least half of the corps reached into our pants and pulled out leaves. We gave them all to Lewis and laughed as he said, "You brought me a leaf!" "You are the Giant Killers. You are 2002." El Paso, Texas. I don't mean to take anything away from the nice people of El Paso, or anything away from the very generous school that we stayed at, but it's a very weird thing to rehearse while hearing sirens every 10 minutes in the surrounding neighborhood, and while warming up to the large Mexican flag in Juarez across the border. It made us focus, though. We didn't let the giant ants bother us on the field, so we weren't going to let a little dust storm bother us on the field. The night began with us playing the National Anthem in front of the crowd. It wasn't our best performance, and I don't think we ever had a good performance of it. It was only one of those songs that we kept in our minds for the day before the show and the day of the show. We would practically relearn it every time we had to play it. We knew it wasn't our best, and we were determined to let the crowd know it later. We performed that night to changing wind directions, and a thunderstorm threatening in the distance. But we're from the Northwest, so rain is no big deal to us. We had rehearsed in adverse conditions in preparation for moments like this. That night we had an amazing performance and one of the judge's tapes became a constant imprint in our minds of what our job was that summer. While rehearsing in Fredricksburg, Texas, we got to listen to the tape. Among all the comments we heard, the phrases that stood out in our minds were, "You gave me goosebumps. I haven't had goosebumps in ten years." "You are the Giant Killers, don't let anybody tell you otherwise." "You are 2002 as far as I'm concerned." We took those words and rode them to the end of the season. We now had a name to uphold. We were the Giant Killers, and we were there to stay. "Imagine all the people ... living for today." -- John Lennon Not only are those lyrics part of the corps song for Seattle Cascades, "Imagine," but they also are a representation of the drum corps activity for those who participate in it. Each day, members wake up and rehearse for a show. DCI World finals could be the next day, it could be weeks away, but it's not what's on our minds. All we think about is going out that night and getting the crowd off their feet. If we succeed, then we've done our jobs. If we fail ...         well, that's what the next day is for. As we stood in the parking lot after semifinals, surrounding our buses in the horn arc and facing the rest of the corps with our horns up and ready to play, the feeling still hadn't sunk in. For the first time in DCI history, a corps from the Northwest had made Division I finals. There was no amount of tears that could be shed to express our joy, no dictionary that had all the words to describe our feelings. All we could do was play. Play we did. With a crowd around us, and Steve conducting us, we began to play "Imagine." I didn't think I would finish the song; I couldn't fight back the tears. It was almost as if the corps, at once, began to cry. Still, we pushed through the song, and gave our best performance of it ever. That was the end of that day. The next day would be finals. Yet it was unbelievable to think about from where the corps had come. The Age-out performance I don't know about the traditions of other corps, but Seattle Cascades always arrives home after tour to the same school where we practice for camps. The corps then does a free performance for parents and fans. With 32 hours of sitting in a bus behind us, we were a bit out of practice. However, this was our farewell to our show and our age-outs, so we couldn't have a bad show. We gave everything we had in front of our families and finished it up without the age-outs. One of the worst parts of touring is you're never in front of the arc to enjoy what you're producing. Well, as an age-out in Cascades, you get to experience it at the homecoming show. The age-outs are asked to join their families in the stands while the rest of the corps performs a victory concert. It was great to be able to see all the age-outs smiling and cheering us on as we performed for them, because that performance is their big goodbye. One more year Since I was 20 when I marched in 2002, I get one last year to be with the corps and partake in the activity that I love. After that, I will finish my senior year in college at the University of Oregon, while being a member of the marching band, basketball band and "Green Garter" band. I'll then take the steps I must towards developing my career. The activity made me stronger as a person and taught me lessons that you just don't learn in life. I learned the right way to deal with adversity and the proper way to deal with frustrations. I plan on finishing my age-out the same way I started it, in Seattle. Only this time, I'll be in the stands with my parents and other age-outs, rather than on the field. 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 masters 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.

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