Drum Corps International
Taking time to be courteous

Taking time to be courteous

by Drum Corps International


Michael Boo
We first heard from Sam Signorelli in the Fanfare column from February 14, 2003, "Drum Corps Develops Hardy Souls." He responded to the story about the Santa Clara Vanguard marcher who gave away his SCV star to a young admiring marcher from a small corps, (Fanfare: April 18, 2003, "Winning at Life: Two Neat Santa Clara Stories"), saying it reminded him of something that happened to him in 1984. Here are Sam's recollections. "I wasn't even aware of drum corps when I was in high school. In 1983, a friend from high school dragged me to the Riverside, Calif., show. Sky Ryders and Crossmen were quite impressive ... I'd never seen such precision from a marching group before ... but it was the Blue Devils who left my jaw hanging. "Upon finding out that I had one year of eligibility left, I made my way to the souvie trailer and filled out an application (not realizing that the baritone soloist in "One More Time, Chuck Corea" in 1983 shared the same last name ... he's probably related. He showed up to a brass practice in 1984 and made a beeline for me with his hand out, saying, "So YOU'RE the other Signorelli!" "I sorta forgot about it until a fellow trumpet player from San Diego State University, John Hendrickson, auditioned for and made Blue Devils. (John was a member of the opening trio in "La Fiesta" and had a brief solo in Madison Scouts' 1985 show). At the time I felt, "If John can make it, so can I." My Christmas present from my mother that year was my flight ticket north from San Diego to audition. When I made the corps, my birthday present was my complete tour fee. "(A sidebar ... if I'd gone to the Riverside show in 1981, I probably could have made the BD line in 1982. Then I'd have a DCI Championship ring and wouldn't be grousing about that ^%#$# 1/10th of a point from 1984! But I digress.) "I went through the routine of working the "You want fries with that?" ordeal and corps practices and lived out of the BD bingo hall attic for two months before moving in with other corps members. During that time, I learned a great deal about myself that still has meaning to me 20 years later. "Granted, everyone gets a lot out of the activity. An incident at a small local show on tour, in Montreal, sticks out in my mind when I think about the influence others had on me. The show was just before we were to start heading down the Eastern Seaboard towards the DCI World Championships in Atlanta. "A lot of corps that would make 1984 finals were there ... Freelancers, Velvet Knights, Garfield Cadets (who beat us that night) and Blue Devils. Up until that time, we had never been able to watch Garfield's show from the audience point of view ... when we DID see them in competition, it was always from the back stands. The only frontal viewing of Garfield was at a clinic they ran in Port Huron, Mich., in their street clothes. We were supposed to see them in full uniforms during that show, but the show got rained out. "So there we were, having already performed, standing along the fence line that separated the field from the stands. Barbara Maroney started her "Maria" solo and I settled against the fence to drink it in, when I felt someone trying to get my attention. "I looked around and saw a young girl in a corps uniform looking shyly at me. The memory's real fuzzy, but I'd guess she was in her early teens ... maybe 15, tops. She was from a local corps named Les Dons, and being from Montreal, she spoke mostly French. But she tried in her halting French-tinged English to ask me questions. "Now, I REALLY wanted to watch Garfield's show, but something in her eyes stopped me from turning away. It wasn't too long before that I was the one looking in awe at someone in a BD uniform. Now, I was not only representing BD (as we were in full uniform at the time), but possibly the entire upper level of the corps activity. "I remember putting BD on a pedestal when I watched the 1983 PBS broadcast, and this little girl had obviously put me on the same pedestal because of the uniform I was wearing. She had dared "approach God" and shyly asked her questions. I was moved, so I put Garfield behind me (literally ... I turned my back on the field) and tried to communicate with her. "I remember two of the questions she asked. "How many years had I been in Blue Devils?" I held up one finger. "How many years was I in drum corps?" I held up one finger again. Her eyes almost popped out of their sockets when she realized that I was not only a rookie to Blue Devils, but also a rookie to the entire corps activity. Like many others, she supposed that you had to have years of experience to make a top corps. "Whole new vistas opened up to her. Perhaps she had a dream of marching at the level we were at ... and my utter lack of experience may have given her a springboard to decide to audition for a big corps in the future. It may be that she DIDN'T go into a larger corps, but my words proved to her that prior experience was not necessarily a prerequisite to success. I don't know. "She left with a thoughtful look in her eyes, and I never saw her again, nor did I see Garfield from the front until the PBS broadcast. "Every so often in the past 20 years, I've wondered what kind of impression I made on that young girl, if any. Did she ever try out for one of the touring corps -- Crossmen, Garfield, Dutch Boy or a corps further away? Did my willingness to turn away from seeing a competitor's performance make any impact on her? I doubt I'll ever know. I hope I made some sort of difference in her life. "Perhaps that's still with me. During the day, I sell equipment for the sport of fencing. Afterwards, I teach youth how to handle sabres. One of my students, to whom I give private lessons in addition to the class, is a 13-year-old girl. I frequently find myself talking to her after our lessons about life ...playing sort of the father role to her (since I'm certainly old enough to BE her father) ... perhaps mirroring in some way that conversation with another young girl from so long ago. "Maybe that decision in Montreal 20 years ago made an impact in MY life as well, one that resonates down the path of time as strongly as the work ethic that drum corps instilled in me, making me a better person as much as marching in Blue Devils did. "I've never regretted that decision to answer her questions...not for one moment. Sam Signorelli
1984 Blue Devils (soprano)
1984-1985 Keesler AFB Blue Knights (soprano)
1986 Dagenham Crusaders (cymbals)
1987 Empire Statesmen (soprano)
1994-1997 Nightfire (co-founder/corps director)
2002-2003 SoCal Dream (soprano/drum major) And now, a Sam Signorelli bonus: "After Blue Devils, I joined the United States Air Force, eventually being stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y. (site of Drums Along the Mohawk). Among other things I did (teaching and marching with a small volunteer fire department parade corps ... played everything from soprano to snare to tenors) was attend science fiction conventions. "One day in 1986 or 1987, I was on a train to New York City with my roommate. We were approaching Poughkeepsie and I needed to use the bathroom. I walked towards the front of the car and waited for the bathroom door to open. As I was standing there in my Star of Indiana shirt from 1985, a voice from a gentleman sitting in front of me asked, "When did you march Star?" "I replied, "I didn't ... I played soprano for the Blue Devils." "Really? What year?" "1984." "I marched cymbals for Garfield." "Really? What year?" "1984." "My resulting cry of "YOU'VE GOT MY RING!!" echoed throughout the train and we laughed about it like old competitors do. I even told him it took me six months to admit that I actually loved the 1984 Garfield show. "I never did make it to the bathroom. And I didn't see him again. "Fast forward to sometime in late 2001 or early 2002: I am a regular poster on the Blue Devils discussion board, as I am on Drum Corps Planet, where a former Cadet by the name of Dave Fowler started to post. I realized that this was the same guy I'd met on the train years before, and the resulting "YOU'VE GOT MY RING!!" has now become a running gag on the board. Any time someone mentions losing something by a VERY close margin, my name comes up. 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 masters 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.

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