Logistics can be a musical ensemble's best friend, or worst enemy. But I marvel at how readily some of them can be taken care of.

Andy Dittrich
Sometimes, well, generally a lot of the time, we are faced with logistical problems in drum and bugle corps. Housing problems, food issues, bus breakdowns, sleep time, rehearsal space, they all are adversaries to our perfect summer. However, in some cases, they seem to get out of hand. The success or failure of a drum corps can totally rely on its success in avoiding logistical problems, or its members' ability to deal with the adverse effects of them. The worst part about logistical problems in a drum and bugle corps is that they are so readily available to the members. We are on tour, so we become so aware of what is happening logistically in our corps at all times. The great thing about drum corps members is their ability to deal with difficult situations and adverse settings, and generally, they are forced into these positions very rarely. Adversities build character, and they make us great members, people, performers. There were times in this season, and other seasons, where I felt like the corps had been overwhelmed with difficult logistical problems, but the great thing about a great drum corps, they always overcome them. We did on all occasions.

But I digress. My point here is this: The University of Illinois Marching Illini went on their road trip this past weekend. The weekend entailed a stop in Moline, Ill., playing a performance at a high school band showcase, and then a night at the home of a family within the area. A reminder: The Marching Illini is about 330 members strong, and with about two members to a home, that is about 165 homes. Now that sounds like a logistical nightmare. (A shout-out to my home-stay family, the Hurtys, and Nate, good luck in Dubuque buddy!)

The following day we played at the Illinois vs. Iowa football game, and then stayed in a hotel in Davenport, Iowa. We had a semiformal dinner, and various activities following that. 330 members? Sounds like a logistical disaster there too.

We rode on, gosh, I think it was seven or eight full-sized coach buses. We have a much smaller staff than that of a 135-member drum and bugle corps.

Maybe it is because it was only over three days, or maybe it is due to a difference in maturity in students that are all currently in school, and are at a different mindset. It could have something to do with the group's experience at doing something like this. But whatever it was, I heard of very little logistical or adverse situations that came up.

So I guess what I'm saying is, college band isn't necessarily a character-builder. They are such different activities, yes, and a university band program does have a lot more access to funds and necessities than a drum corps traveling across the country does. But still, maybe it's not that we didn't have logistical problems, maybe they just tend to solve themselves when you don't get everyone involved.

We have also run a marching band competition with 52 high school bands, and played at every home football game. We did a parade with nearly 200 alumni band members, and have hosted three university bands. We rehearse at a central location on the campus of a giant, Big-Ten University.

Yes, it is different, and it is perfectly understandable for a corps to have the kind of problems that it has. It is part of what makes drum corps great. But maybe instead of shunning the practices of marching bands, like we do so readily in our activity, we should be asking some questions, and using those concepts to our benefit.