Ashley Pittman, 20 College of Charleston Teal Sound 2003-2004, The Cadets Color Guard, 2005-2010 How did you choose your corps? I have always wanted to be a Cadet ever since I can remember. The corps has always stood out to me because of the fast-paced tempos and the long, honored tradition the Cadets hold dear. Basically, I bleed maroon and gold. What was the experience like the first time you auditioned for a corps? My dad has been taking me to drum corps shows since the age of two. After 10 years of watching DCI, I wanted to participate. I was just starting my first year as a sixth-grader and there was no marching band or winter guard to speak of at my middle school or the high school I was going to attend. I knew I wanted to be a Cadet, but I did not know how I was going to get there. My parents and I researched Division III (now Open Class) corps within a three-hour radius of our home and we found Teal Sound. I went to my first camp not knowing a single bit of flag technique and entering my third year of a break from dancing. Needless to say, I was so nervous! Everybody knew what they were doing, and I was in the corner just trying to figure it all out. The weekend was long and trying, but I did not know that this particular weekend would start the next nine years of amazing memories and experiences that will last me a lifetime. The staff members at Teal Sound took me under their wing, taught me how to spin and helped me grow as an individual. It was tough being so young and not knowing what was going on, but overcoming that challenge has formed the performer I am today, and the experience gave me the courage to pursue my dream of being a Cadet. What's the best way to prepare for an audition? The best way to prepare for an audition is to practice! What I have learned from being a Cadet is that nothing great is achieved without hard work. When you apply to audition, look to see if any audition materials are posted online and get in contact with the captains and caption head. I love giving advice to those who are auditioning for the Cadets because I have been in their shoes before and know what a nerve-racking weekend it can be. Just know that you are not alone! There are other people coming who are just as nervous as you are. Instead, treat the weekend as a chance to spin and dance with people you normally would not be able to, and branch out and meet as many people as you can. You will be surprised how quickly this will make you feel more comfortable with the entire process. What would you say to someone who is unsure whether or not to audition for a drum corps? Do it! Never say never. I was 12 years old and marched in a drum corps. I had no previous experience and was the youngest person in the corps. I made the Cadets at age 14 thinking I would just go to the audition for experience. The drum corps out there are looking for young people who are willing to work hard and want to be molded into extraordinary performers and people. If corps staff members chose only perfect performers, they would have no one to teach. The lessons I have learned have not just pertained to my craft, but life in general. Marching at the Cadets has taught me to not only strive for excellence on the field, but in my life outside the summer as well. Any other advice? My biggest piece of advice I could give is to perform your heart out. Do not be shy. If the staff sees that you love doing what you do, the more likely you will be noticed. I always love watching people look like they are having a good time. Plus, if you mess up or forget a part of the audition, you can totally convince your audience with your face. Just keep on going and SMILE! My favorite audition experience is something I get to take part in every year. I have found that the veteran members of the Cadets' color guard were so helpful in my audition process. They took me under their wing and told me stories of their first auditions. They even took me aside and helped me learn the audition piece. I now follow their example and continue the tradition of easing new folks into the process by encouraging them all weekend and making sure they are never alone. I am getting excited to meet everyone and gear up for the 2011 season! I cannot believe it's already here. These past nine years have flown by! Learn more about corps audition dates, locations and additional info.