Sara Neumann graciously submitted the following on how drum corps made her a better person. When reflecting on my best memories of being in color guard, there are about three that reign supreme: The first two were during my rookie year, 2000, with Capital Sound. Our show was "Newsies." We were in Ottawa, Ill., working on choreography and restaging of the gang in the fight scene. Five of us had a separate part, and being shortstaffed that day, our remaining staff allowed us to do something constructive on our own. We decided to get creative and we made up our own drum and bugle corps. Jessie McCann (Capital Aires and Capital Sound, seven years) was drum major, I was the contra player, Kellie Kaddatz (Capital Aires and Capital Sound, seven years), and Korrie Powelski (Capital Sound and Boston Crusaders) were the stick-spinning color guard members, Becky Blom (Capital Sound guard captain, nine years) was the soprano, and Erin McCormick (Capital Sound and Phantom Regiment) was the snare drummer (or I guess the entire drum line). Our show consisted of crowd commercial favorites -- "Car X Man," "Chili's Baby Back Ribs," "McDonald's Big Mac" (drum solo), and "Mr. Clean." We later got to perform our show for the corps as they waited in line for food one afternoon. Needless to say, it was a fan favorite! On August 7, 2000 (the day of DCI Division II World Prelims), two members of our staff, Jeff Danbom (rifle instructor) and Christopher (Pher-Pher) Nelson (dance instructor), took our equipment that was sitting out in the unused gym to dry from rain and did a little decorating. They took all of our rifles and a trash can lid (from the show) and wrote "No Fear," something they had been telling us all summer in regards to our show and our performance. Then, they took the flags and outlined this area to make a square, and made a rainbow with our rainbow-colored flags. The best part was that they were asleep in the middle of the rainbow on an air mattress. It is my understanding that they did this for us at 3:00 a.m. I liken it to waking up on Christmas morning! Talk about talented, inspirational and fun instructors in this activity! During the summers of 2000 and 2001, there were days with a bright blue sky and there in the middle of it would be the lovely moon. I remember Erin McCormick always saying (in a gasping, dramatic voice), "Look! The moon is out. We should not be out here rehearsing, we should be SLEEPING!" Now whenever I see the moon in midday, I try to use that excuse, but just as it was when I marched, it doesn't work! To this day, that makes me laugh out loud. OK, I know I have included a lot so far, but I honestly can't leave any of these out. They were defining memories for me; things that still make me smile about my experiences. When I marched Colts in 2002, we had three days of rehearsal in Durand, Mich., home of the Railroaders. Well, those three days were hard as I was injured and hating it, and well, we all were a bit run ragged. During ensemble, the staff got the scoreboard to work. During the breaks, or if we needed that extra hype, they would turn on the scoreboard so the railroad crossing sign would go down and flash, all with the accompaniment of the warning bells. Who knew how exciting that could be! After that day, the pit would play that melody on the chimes when we needed that extra hype! Last one: DCI World Championships semifinals in 2002. When I think of how great drum corps was to me, I think of my last time on the field. I had spent three years fearing performing in Camp Randall at my age-out. The huge fear of messing up on my last performance in front of my family and friends was truly something I had worried about. But here I was, and I no longer felt any fear, but rather a calm. After three years of being with my drum corps families, having learned so much from them, and having received so much support, I now had the confidence (that I lacked for so many years) that I had done everything I could and I knew I could do that show in my sleep. The only thing left to do was to go live it up! I had no reason to fear. "No Fear," as Jeff Danbom (one of my best friends and most inspiring instructors) always taught us. It stood firm in my mind and soul. As we prepared to walk down the gate, I was overcome with the joy and sadness of this thing we call drum corps. I knew my precious time was drawing near, and everything turned into slow motion for me as I took in everything I could. I was fortunate to be "Twinkies" with the guard captain and one of my best friends, Courtney Caswell, who led the guard on the field. So there I was, standing in the front of the line, singing onto the field with the guard, and taking in the huge crowd, I'm not sure I could have held myself any higher, or have been prouder of what we had accomplished through thick and thin. My career in corps had taught me to believe in myself. I got to perform with some wonderful people that summer, and learn from some of the best. One of the best parts was that my mom was able to see me age out, and on that day, she finally understood why I loved it so much. My high school band director, Ted Reicher, was there. He supported me throughout my career -- as well had many others, including staff and members of Capital Sound and Colts. They were there to witness my life, as I would never know it again. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I can't tell you how powerful it was to hear from those people in the audience, and afterwards have them tell me how much I had improved. After all, that was what I was there for -- to become a better person. I was finally able to show all those people who loved drum corps as much as I did -- those who inspired me to do my best -- what I was made of. I will never forget the moment before starting the show as I said my prayers, and the whole performance that followed. I was able to just soak it all in -- the feeling, the people, the choreography, everything. I can replay all of those memories in my head in slow motion as if it were on a video. Drum corps changed my life; it left a mark on me unlike any other. I can't imagine a summer without drum corps. People think I am crazy when I tell that my true soul mate is in drum corps. I will find that person someday, as drum corps found me and taught me so many things to be grateful for.
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 master's 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.