Drum Corps International
The Joys of drum corps

The Joys of drum corps

by Drum Corps International

Carolyn Nuesch marched with Jersey Surf in 2001 and 2002, and is back to march the 2004 season. The following is extracted from a series of short narratives she's written about the drum corps experience. The Joys of Drum Corps - As told through my heart's eye Wake ups "Good morning (enter corps name here)! It's time to get up! It's approximately 7 a.m. and it's a lovely day here in (enter town and state here)! You have 10 minutes to be up and outside for stretch and run. It's a show day!" OK, so maybe it's not exactly the most eloquent speech you've ever heard, but it's one that you love hearing. Waking up is one of the best parts of the drum corps day. You're sore and exhausted and really don't feel like moving, yet that's when you hear it. It's usually much too peppy, but it's meant to be for it brings a smile to your face. How many other places do you get an enthusiastic "Goooood Morning!" as the first words you hear of the day? Not many. There's not even an annoying traffic report. Sometimes the drum major will put in a CD. It's nothing special. It's just something to wake you and your brethren up. It's not anything that you haven't heard on the radio a hundred times before. Yet, then it starts, ever so softly, the corps song; and in that moment you feel it, the one special bond between you and your fellow corps members. Even as you all lay on the floor dreary-eyed and half-conscious, you all become entirely aware of one another. The insignificant squabbles of the night before are put aside as you realize that today is a new day. It is another chance to be awesome, together. It is nearly the last chance you will have, and as such, you must cherish it. The drum major standing above you is surveying the gym like a general surveying a battlefield. He smiles softly to himself, confident that all will go well. Amid the chaos of morning, the smile is a comfort. You slowly convince your aching body to move and even with only 10 minutes to be outside, no one stirs until the song is through. There is simply a moment of calmness and tranquility. It is as though the planets have aligned and you are amidst the stars in your own Ptolemaic universe. You are pulled back to Earth, however, as the song ends and your corps mates begin to head outside. Quickly you get up to go join them, but not fast enough to forget about returning the half-smile of your drum major. I warn you though, friend, someday soon you will wake up in your own bed in your own room and you will find it strangely lonely. You will miss the greeting that got you through and you will want nothing more than to hear it again. You will whisper, "Good Morning (enter corps name here)" to yourself each morning, just to make the day at home seem as good as those were. It won't work though -- not really. Trust me, I've tried. Showers When you were back playing in the minor leagues known as high school band, you knew that at the end of rehearsal you'd go home and get a nice warm shower and be able to just let the day's events drizzle down the drain. Well, guess what? You've moved up. In the major leagues of the marching music activity, showers are a time of community building and are ultimately fun. That is unless of course you're in one of the really "fun" showers of the summer. You know -- the ones where the water is ice cold and brown. Then you spend the first minute debating if you really want this nasty wetness all over your body. You realize that you really have no choice and jump in screaming whatever obscenities may come out. It is these showers that make the docile conditions of the "dreaded" communal college showers seem funny. As the arctic water beats against your body, you smile. The belief that if you smile hard enough you will be able to ignore it and be happy is the only thought pumping through your frostbitten mind. Finally your teeth have been brushed, you hair rinsed and your legs shaved. You get out of the shower and realize you forgot to do your tour duty. As I see you throw on your clothes and run out of the locker room, I shake my head and pick up your derelict shampoo bottle. Stretch It's 8 a.m. Do you know where your flexibility is? Did you leave it at the last housing site? Is it still in your sleeping bag? Or maybe no one got it off the bus last night. Whatever the case is, you'll never know for sure. All you know is that your fingers are definitely just going to have to send a telegram to your toes today because they sure aren't going to have any physical contact. Unfortunately, the staff won't accept that. Everyone seems to hurt this morning, as minigroans are heard from around the mass of want-to-be Gumby-people. Some laugh at the soreness, others just groan. Regardless, this vital part of the day must go on. You breathe in and out, trying to get a bit better stretch, and gradually you begin to fight through the resistance. The soreness alleviates itself as the lactic acid jostles around and slowly is overtaken by oxygen. Slowly you raise yourself up, giving yourself a bit more stretch as you form a block and start your run. Left. Left. Left. You don't even think about your legs. They just go now. You focus on where you are going and the breathing regimen. "Do not look down," you tell yourself as you breathe, in for four out for four. You push through and smile as you walk your cool down. Finally you get dismissed for breakfast and meander to the truck to get your cereal. I don't recommend milk in this heat, but it's your choice. Oh yeah, and try stretching before bed at night, it helps to alleviate some of that tension. Whatever you do though, have fun. This is the best time of your life. Finals retreat Standing silently in the middle of the block, you feel the energy screaming through the corps. It starts softly as they begin to announce the bottom awards and only grows stronger and stronger, louder and louder as the scores get higher. Finally they announce your corps and you snap to attention wanting to scream, cry, collapse and smile all at once. You wince as you return to parade rest and realize that it's over. Never again will you perform this show. Never again will you see a crowd leap to their feet for you. Tears stream down your sunburned face as the medal hits your chest, but you beam a huge smile. You realize that the block has broken and you turn to your brothers and sisters hugging and crying. You hold on to one another, snapping photos and laughing. You hunt down your staff to get a picture, but when you see them you can no longer say the words and just cry. As they wrap their arms around you, the only words you want to say cannot come out. You get half a "thanks" out when you choke up too tight to finish it. Don't worry though. They understand. They have been through it too. We all have and that is why we do what we do. Don't fight it. Just let the tears come. You made it. Congratulations. 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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