Six years ago, I blindly entered an activity not knowing the type of impression it would have on my life. That activity, drum corps, at first seemed so small when compared to many other activities that young people can be involved with these days. But in time I learned that the drum corps activity was something much bigger than I could have ever imagined. I also could never have imagined the impact that drum corps would have on my life.I started my drum corps experience in 1996 in a small town in western Pennsylvania called Butler. The corps itself, the General Butler Vagabonds, had many years before been an A-Class Drum Corps and then for a while had been competitively inactive. They had only recently emerged as a small, division III corps. Five years later I ended my drum corps experience at the opposite end of the spectrum -- as the drum major for the up-and-coming Pioneer, a division I corps from Milwaukee.Notice the use of my words in that last sentence -- "ended" and not "aged-out." I say that because I never did age out. This year, 2002, is in fact my age-out year. There were many factors in my decision to not return to the drum corps activity this summer, but sitting and looking at all those reasons now makes me realize what I am truly missing -- one more shot at something I truly love. I never thought that walking onto the field in Buffalo, N.Y., last summer would be my last drum corps performance. But in fact, that hot August night would be the last time I would experience the walk through the tunnel and the rush of a great performance. It would also signify the end of experiencing even the small things I loved about conducting, like the rush I felt from the closing segment and the shivers I got from the ballad. I never got a chance to just take a moment and savor something that had been such a huge part of my life for six years. And honestly, that kills me. This summer I won't be touring with any of the great people that I have experienced those great drum corps journeys with, I won't be performing in Madison and I won't be able to attend my age-out ceremony, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of May, I moved to Chicago to intern for the summer at Drum Corps International. It certainly is not a "drum corps" experience per se, but it still allows me to be around the activity I love during my age-out year.One small piece of advice to anyone and everyone involved with this great activity: Perform until you cannot perform anymore, not for the scores or for others but for yourself. I say that only because when it's all said and done, no one remembers the numbers, but the memories last a lifetime.
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