Drum Corps International
On the Field: The Colt Cadets

On the Field: The Colt Cadets

by Drum Corps International

Each week this winter, we'll be profiling a different Division II & III corps in a feature called "On the Field." Vicki Schaffer, director of the Colt Cadets, submitted this installment. "We use music and excellence to teach each other about success in life" -- the Colts' mission.

The 2003 Colt Cadets
The Colt Cadets are made up of youth ages 10 through 16. No prior performance experience is required to be part of the Colt Cadets. Most members are from Dubuque, Iowa, and the immediate tri-state area, but members recently have been from as far away as Colorado and Alaska. The Colt Cadets are one of the few remaining cadet corps in the country. Although many Colts members came through the Cadets, the purpose of the corps is not necessarily to be a feeder corps for the Colts, but to stand on its own as a positive, supportive, and educational activity for local youth. The Colt Cadets' guiding principle since 1967 has been to "Learn, Entertain, and Have Fun!" The Colt Cadets begin rehearsals in March on Sunday afternoons, and summer rehearsals take place three days a week. During late June and July, the Colt Cadets travel about 15-20 days to parades and competitions throughout the Midwest. Along with the performances, many fun outings are planned for the summer also. In 2003, te Cadets traveled to Canada, visited amusement parks, and often travel to support the Colts in their performances. The program is structured to allow the best educational development for each individual member and the schedule allows members to participate in other summer activities as well. The organizational philosophy is that members, with an average age of 12.5 years, should be encouraged to do more than one activity. With 11 families that have two or more kids in the corps, this also allows families to be a priority during the summer, also. This educational philosophy is evident in all aspects of the program. Beginning brass players in March are often able to play over two octaves by the end of July. Percussionists switch instruments throughout the show, allowing every member to play in the front ensemble and the battery. This allows all percussionists to learn basic skills on all instruments, to find what instruments they excel at, and creates well-rounded musicians for their band programs in the fall. In 2003 the Colt Cadets fielded a corps of 55 members, following a rebuilding year in 2001 when there were only 18 members. Leadership and retention of over 80 percent and annual growth of 50 percent in new members has created this growth in enrollment.    Lots of new members meant more vehicles, instruments and uniforms. New uniforms gave the corps a new look and image in 2003. Michael Cesario created a look for the Cadets very similar to the Colts, so all members of the organization are visibly part of one family. As the Colt Cadets grow in age and numbers, plans for the future include creation of a third unit for beginners that will include concert and parade performances during the summer. In the near future, the Colt Cadets will grow to become a Division II corps with membership ages of 12-17. The Colts Organization was founded in 1963, and supports the Colts, the Colt Cadets, and the Dubuque Colts Youth Choirs. Over 300 members from third grade to age 21 are members of Colts Youth programs. The non-profit organization is run by the corporation board and supported by the Colts Booster Board.

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