Drum Corps International
Reality shows get a drum corps makeover

Reality shows get a drum corps makeover

by Michael Boo

In recent years reality shows have been all the rage on television. They're cheap to produce and there is an endless supply of people willing to be contestants and risk showing off their shortcomings to an unforgiving viewing public.



Reality show programmers are missing the mark, though, in not turning to drum corps for inspiration. The members who march are not only a great microcosm of society as a whole, but they've already shown themselves to be prepared for any hardships a reality show can throw at them.



It is with this concept in mind that I entertainingly present the following ideas for future reality television programming.






"Big Brother: Drum Corps Edition." Put 16 kids into a competitive corps, film them 24/7 and watch them disintegrate because they haven't figured out what drum corps kids already know how to do – get along with people they don't always agree with to accomplish a larger goal.



"Survivor: Drum Corps." Same general concept as above, except the last one left gets to finish off the summer tour.



"Drum Corps' Got Talent." Contestants have to perform their routines individually in front of their fellow members and celebrity judges. Watch how many fall apart under the pressure. Celebrity judges include announcers Brandt Crocker and Dan Potter and broadcaster Steve Rondinaro.



"Instructor Swap." Instructors switch groups for a week and attempt to fix problems they see in the other corps. Hilarity ensues when corps members reject their attempts to do things differently and the corps members realize how much they love their old instructors and can't wait to get them back.



"Trading Corps." Another trading show, but this time it's the members who go to another corps and are given a small part of the show to fix up as they see fit. Watch what happens when Phantom Regiment is given narration.



"Deal or No Deal." Selected members have to guess inside which judge's suitcase is the highest score sheet.



"Punk'd Corps." Corps members have pranks played on them by DCI Hall of Famer and uniform designer Michael Cesario, who shows up at a rehearsal with costumes designed for Disney's "Finding Nemo on Ice." Cesario tells corps members the costumes are their new uniforms.



"The Amazing Race." Instructors try to finish their shows before the first contest of the season. Each is thrown a monkey wrench when they learn they have to teach a new opener because permission to perform was denied by the music's copyright holder.



"Drum Corps Idol." Each week, members have to perform all the new changes in the show and pretend they really, really enjoy learning the new material as much as they enjoyed performing the stuff with which they were already comfortable.



"Fear Factor." Normal everyday contestants who have proven they have what it takes to jump across great chasms, walk on the wings of stunt airplanes and eat swarms of disgusting bugs are confronted with their most difficult challenge yet, having to perform in a corps in front of thousands of fans.



"The People's Court: Corps(t)room." Members of corps that are battling each other over minor disagreements—such as who gets to sit next to the bus window—come to have their disputes resolved. DCI broadcast reporter Jessica Allen reminds corps members at the end of each show, "Don't take the law into your own hands. Take 'em to Corps(t)!"



"The Simple Life." Each week, two pseudo-celebrities are selected to go around and paint practice fields, shop for food for an entire corps, drive corps buses and work selling souvenirs.



"Pimp My Equipment Truck." A regular corps equipment truck is given the royal treatment by a group of auto experts. It's returned to the corps totally tricked out with surround-sound in the uniform rack area and a state-of-the-art liquid crystal monitor—for viewing corps rehearsals—that pops out of the truck's side.



"So You Think You Can Spin." Everyday people off the street are put through all-day drum corps rehearsals where they have to spin, spin, spin and still keep a smile on their faces.



"The Surreal Corps." Members of various corps are put together in a new corps and learn to get along. First, they have to agree on using the same marching style and then they have to agree on whether to learn drill by the dot system or by dressing the form.



"Dancing With the Guards." Percussionists and horn line members have to learn how to dance while moving across a football field, twirling equipment, changing costumes behind a short scrim, all while avoiding being run over by the color guard members who have switched places with them.



"Extreme Makeover: Corps Edition." A dream team drum corps staff comes together to take a ragtag group of aspiring corps members and give them private lessons and a whole new show to perform in one week.



"Who Wants to Be a Corps Member?" Contestants have to answer questions correctly about drum corps history. Sample questions may include material from a variety of sources including individual corps yearbooks that have embarrassing information about members who went on to become esteemed instructors and designers.



"Are You Smarter Than a Corps Member?" Contestants are asked questions that only corps members would have a grip on – such as how to tell if convenience store snacks are fresh before buying, how to fit several dozen people into a small Laundromat, how to sleep in any position on a bus, how to properly tan while wearing a drum harness, how to deal with extreme homesickness on tour, and how often does a horn have to be washed out so it doesn't start its own colony of life?



"Corps Nation." Members of a corps are taken to a remote location and told to conceive, write, teach and clean their own show AND to make their own meals and portion out the food so it lasts for the entire project, all without instructors, management or food truck personnel.



"The Biggest Losers." This is about the kids who have everything they need to be able to march in a drum corps and spend much of their time thinking about it, but ultimately decide not to even give it a try.






Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International print and Web projects. Boo has written for many other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating.



As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.