Drum Corps International
The Emotion of drum corps

The Emotion of drum corps

by Michael Boo


Michael Boo
I'm warning you in advance. Some of the following stories might bring a few tears to your eyes. They are stories of the love and wonder that permeates drum corps, reminders of why we continue to do and enjoy what we have learned to love. Amy M. Ramirez marched with the Lake Erie Regiment in 2001 and participated in the Morrice Winter Percussion (1999-2001) and Spirit Performing Youth Ensemble (2002), two WGI indoor percussion lines. She wrote in regarding the article I had the blessing of writing on Shaylee Young, a 15-year-old member of the Blue Stars and a cancer survivor who marched under phenomenal circumstances. "I was truly inspired by reading about a member of the Blue Stars who was marching despite her diagnosis of cancer. Why? I was unable to participate in my age-out this season due to my own diagnosis of cancer. To see that there was someone strong enough to pursue their dreams of being one in the thousands that march within the activity this year, whose struggles went unnoticed but to those close in her corps ... it made me remember one of the finer points of drum corps. Family. "Those of us who have marched can take that sense of family for granted at times. However, when a fellow member is in need, that family is there to get us through our toughest moments. That's why this activity still amazes me. Not only through the bonds that hold it together, but also through those who are an inspiration through their actions. "Congratulations to Shaylee, and to everyone else. You make the rest of us proud!" Rick Rutkowski is a 51-year-old who has been a member, fan and student of drum corps for 30 years. "I recently read an article written by a drum corps mom entitled "Memoirs of a Moments Junkie" (Fanfare: Jan. 9, 2004) and was shaking all over by the time I finished. I want to add the following 'moment' from my own experience. "From 1985 until 1998, our family lived near Denver, and every year I looked forward with great anticipation to the Drums Along The Rockies competition held in Mile High Stadium. One year, my youngest son and I drove to Castle Rock High School to watch the Santa Clara Vanguard practice. We went after lunch in order to watch the drill portion of the practice. "It was a typical July summer afternoon in Colorado -- dry as all get-out, brilliant blue sky, and searing sun. Just perfect. We start walking toward the practice field and heard the thunder -- if you will -- of the Santa Clara drum line warming up. The sound was deep and resonating off the walls of the school, and we had not even seen them yet, but it was at that moment that my eyes started to well up with tears and I could not speak to answer a question my son was asking me. "I had to stop and compose myself before I continued. The feeling I had was one of being connected with each and every corps member who ever toed the line, who wore the uniform, who sweat, cried, hurt, and felt a connection with this incredible activity. My son asked me if I was all right, and I told him, while blubbering through tears, that I was so happy, and that these were tears of joy and happiness. I think at that moment, he may have thought his dad had been out in the Colorado sun a little too long." Rich Kleinman marched drums in Royal Aires (1972-1973), in Royal Commodores (1974) and Blue Devils (1975-1980). He says the following experience touched him greatly. "My father, Tiny (he was 6'4" and 300 pounds), was a huge fan of drum corps. He supported both the Vanguard and Blue Devils, but his favorite tune was definitely "Send in the Clowns" from SCV's 1974 repertoire. "In 1983, my father died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 55. It was the most hurt I had ever felt in my life, even up to the present time. "At the service/burial for my father, (to this day, I still don't know everyone who all attended -- I was devastated), to my complete surprise, a group of Blue Devils horn players, fully dressed out in their uniforms, marched out to where the burial was being held. They formed a small arch and then preceded to play, in full, "Send in the Clowns." It absolutely overwhelmed me, along with my sister and mother. "Although I had always felt very proud to be a member of the Blue Devils, that day I think I felt prouder than ever, and realized from the "outside" how much class the organization has. "It gave me a wonderful memory from a day that had been my worst. Thank you Blue Devils." Trisha WiIliams-Longo, of Dickson City, Pa., is a part-time music teacher in the area as well as assistant director of music at her church. She has followed the Phantom Regiment since 1978, has done photography and other volunteer work with the corps since 1993 and has partially sponsoring a marching member of the corps since 1996. She begins her story with the comment, "Here is one that moved me forever. "In 1994, I took my mother and my then 79-year-old grandmother to DCI East in 1994. My grandmother was quickly digressing into the early stages of Alzheimer's. Phantom Regiment was playing "Clare de Lune" that year. My grandmother had always loved music, especially classical, so I took her to the show in her wheelchair. "She enjoyed all the rest of the corps, but when Phantom entered the field in their all white uniforms she exclaimed, "Aren't they beautiful." This in itself was stirring, as she had not been able or willing to speak in any recognizable sense for almost three weeks prior to that. She asked me to read her what they were playing. I read her the songs, and upon mentioning "Clare de Lune," her eyes grew wide as she again spoke perfectly, "That was a song at my wedding -- 53 years ago." "My mother and I were spellbound that this just came to her. As the sweet chords of Phantom Regiment playing this tune turned heavenward, the corps facing backfield, they knelt and played the final chord, which seemed to float all the way to the moon that was high above in the distance of J. Birney Crum Stadium. "As the chord diminished, I looked over to see my grandmother with tears streaming down her cheeks, blowing kisses to the Regiment as they rose for the next piece, saying over and over, "Thank you! Thank you!" Everyone around us saw this occur and they were also moved. Some even came and hugged her afterwards. I was never moved to tears like that. All the doctors, medication and pleading and prodding didn't evoke any emotion or response from her for almost an entire month until this moment. "Now, nine years later, she is bedridden, almost incoherent and in the final stages of her disease, and every August, (drum corps season and her wedding anniversary), I play that tune for her on my CD player. Every time I do, I see her eyes fill up and her lips move, but there is no sound. But I know what she is saying. "She is saying: "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" "No. Thank you, Phantom Regiment, for touching someone who you'll never know, my grandmother, Helen Williams, someone who will never forget all of you and the music you made that brought tears to her eyes that night. "I will always be grateful to Phantom Regiment, and drum corps in general, for moving souls, young and old, healthy or ill, to the beauty of music." Fanfare archives 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 master's 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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