Students joining Open Class corps is on the rise, DCI Open Class Coordinator David Eddleman reported during a presentation to directors at the DCI Annual Meeting in Atlanta on Saturday.

A total of 2,570 members were part of 25 Open Class groups that participated in the 2016 Drum Corps International Tour, up from 2,251 in 26 corps the year prior. Total Open Class corps membership has grown 58 percent over the last six years.  

“What we’re seeing in the Open Class is a focus on entertaining programming, really good instruction, quality management and administration of the organizations, and groups that are drawing students from within 50 to maybe 100 miles of home,” said Eddleman, who has served as DCI’s Open Class coordinator for the past 10 years. “Those are some of the leading factors we’re seeing that are drawing students to audition for Open Class corps.”

A 2016 survey of corps members showed that more than 60 percent noted the top reason for joining their particular Open Class corps was for the opportunity to be a part of Drum Corps International. Simultaneously, they were also looking for a drum corps experience that is closer to home, with most Open Class corps members living within a three-hour drive of rehearsals.

“We saw 14 corps out of the 25 competing last year that had membership over 100 which has been on the rise year over year,” said Eddleman. “Projections show that 16 corps will each have more than 100 members in 2017.”