Some people are really lucky and find their perfect corps on the first try. They know where they want to march, they audition successfully, and they spend any number of happy years as a member of that corps.
Most of us aren't that lucky. It is not at all unusual anymore for a member to march with more than one corps before aging out, and there can be any number of causes. Maybe issues of schedule or financing forced a move. Maybe the member had a lot of disagreements with how the corps was taught and/or ran. Maybe s/he just wanted to experience a lot of different approaches. The most common reason, in my experience, is that someone starts out in a lower-division drum corps to develop his or her skills, and moves to a higher-division corps after a year or two marching with the original corps. Unfortunately, making a move on this basis can cause feelings of guilt and/or betrayal in both the departing member and the folks left behind. If there have been no major disagreements between the departing member and anyone at corps s/he's leaving, the member may question whether the motivation of marching with a higher-division corps is a valid one; after all, no one wants to be "that guy" who left the old crew in the lurch. Corps loyalty is a tricky question; however, my feeling about it has always been, if you're really into your new corps, then you should march with your new corps. For one thing, it's great for you to feel some sense of loyalty to your old corps, but there will be a point in the summer when something bad will happen and if you were still there, you'd start to say to yourself, "Man, I could be with the other corps and this wouldn't be happening to me." And no matter how hard you tried, some of that bitterness would come out to where other people could see it, and that would be no good for anyone. No corps needs a member who resents having to be there. For another thing, it's a bit of an insult to the people who are there to stick around out of a sense of obligation or charity -- it would be sort of like if someone you were dating broke up with you, but then got back together with you because they didn't want you to be alone (but not because they still liked you). A corps needs people who really are excited about being there, not people who are doing it because they think they should. Most of the time this question pops up because you're getting some flak from the folks you marched with last year, who are telling you you're betraying the corps or some such. You will continue to hear this until about mid-July, at which point they will tell you how awesome it is that you're in your new corps. Don't take what they say to heart; it's equal parts jealousy and missing you. And believe me, all corps administrators and staff just want what's best for their members, so the corps director and the staff will understand that you're ready to move on to bigger and better things, and they won't hold that against you. Most corps have long track records of survival and success. It's a little harsh, but you have to put it to yourself this way: Are you REALLY going to make that much of a difference between the corps being successful or not being successful? Honestly, probably not. So you need to do what's best for you, and let your old corps take care of themselves -- which they will. Plenty of people around you have probably faced this question, so you might turn to some of your fellow members to get their perspective on the situation. Just remember, doing what's best for you is generally also best for the people around you -- something made you go audition at the new corps in the first place, and you should follow that impulse. It doesn't change your pride at having been a part of your former corps, it just means you're ready to move on to a different experience, and there's nothing wrong with that. Emily Tannert is a sophomore music education/percussion performance major at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., and holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. Emily aged out of the Glassmen in 2003 and was assistant tour manager for the corps in 2004 and 2005. You can contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org. On corps membership etiquette Drum corps relationships (a Valentine's Day special column) To young administrators The Quest for the diet soda The Fine art of memorization What I'd do different The lay of the land Preparing for the physical demands Perfect practice Drum corps rites of passage Kickoff week Zen and the art of drum corps shopping Making it happen, financially Auditioning: Just go for it The Ageout rule Doing drum corps Transitioning to the professional level The Basics on auditioning From storm-ravaged Louisiana, some hearty thanks So you want to march Emily Tannert's past columns