Drum Corps International
The Most incredible experience of our lives

The Most incredible experience of our lives

by Michael Boo

Last week, we heard from Carrie Lee, mother of Peter and Mandi Gissiner, two kids who left to march Teal Sound as brother and sister and returned as best of friends. This week, we'll hear from both Peter and Mandi. Peter's story I've marched in Teal Sound for what will be my fourth season this summer, playing a mix of contra and baritone. My sister, Mandi Gissiner, is in her third year with us, and is in the guard. After hearing all my tour stories when I came home in 2001, and after watching the video of our Division II & III DCI World Championships performance, Mandi remarked at how much she wanted to participate. She came with me to the first camp of the 2002 season and had no experience at all. She was as green as they come, but the staff worked with her. Pretty soon, it was apparent that she was really into this activity. I'll admit I was worried that she wouldn't stick to her guns. In my second year in Teal, I was a little more ready for what was ahead. After coming home from camps, Mandi and I would talk over what we did with our prospective sections. She talked about the guard work with an excited air about her. It really pleased me to hear that she was having fun. So, we hit the road that season, and had a great time. All throughout tour, we would talk about whatever was in our heads. After shows, we would give each other a big hug, and Mandi was all smiles. We laughed off my embarrassing fall at finals in the Canadian Open and we shrugged off any work she missed. It was great to have her on tour. She was always in good spirits and it definitely made things easier for both of us. Coming into 2003, we really were excited to be marching together again. Moving into my third year, I had a good idea of how to "play this game." Mandi was quickly standing out as someone that would easily take charge if need be. Watching each other mature within the corps was fascinating to me. I could see how her whole demeanor had changed, and how I had myself. This season would be the one that truly brought us the closest. The show was a darker, more serious endeavor than before. Mandi and I would talk about it, and it helped us perform better. On our second tour, she and I started a little pre-show tradition to wish each other a good show. When our corps gets together before going on, we form a circle and each put a hand on someone. We would all say a prayer -- not for us, but for someone else in the corps -- that they might do a better show. Mandi always got my prayer. After our on-field warmup, Mandi would come over and give me a big hug on the field as I set up. Then we were in for the show. It was always something that was more comforting to me. I felt like I knew that she wanted me to have a good run. Following our show, the corps would form a circle again, and we would get a rundown of how we did. Every time, Mandi and I would find each other, hug, and listen to the staff. Having her there was more than I could have hoped for, and we needed each other after our semifinals performance last year. Semis was the most incredible show we've ever done. We all somehow knew that it was the last. We wanted to jump into finals, but knew we couldn't. At our company front going into the closing statement, I was stifling tears and could barely play. Coming off of the field, the whole horn line was sobbing and sniffling. I couldn't begin to hold back. We circled up, and Mandi was there, as always. I just hugged her, and we listened to our staff rave about our show. Many of them were in tears as well -- the whole vibe was eye-opening. I remember going from relative to relative, and leaving a wet shoulder with each. The whole corps was a loose group, everyone sobbing and hugging each other. Mandi and I couldn't be separated -- we had the most incredible experience of our lives, and it was together. Coming into the 2004 season, we'll need each other that much more. It's our last with the Teal Sound, as we'll be moving [Peter and Mandi's father is in the military and has been transferred to Maine] and Teal will be too far away. We'll continue to march, together, if possible. I have hopes of auditioning for Crossmen in 2006, aging out in 2007. With school still going on for her, it's unlikely that she'll follow until I've aged out. So we're taking every stride in this year with Teal together. We're both dreading the day it ends -- though it will. I have every intention of cheering her on until she ages out three years later. We talk endlessly about tour, and it's something of which other people can only scratch the surface. We giggle and relish the fact that this is one thing that only we understand. It wouldn't be there without Teal Sound and DCI in general. Thanks to both -- I wouldn't have it any other way. Peter Gissiner
Teal Sound horn line, 2001 to present Mandi's story My name is Mandi Gissiner, younger sister of Peter. I'm going into my third season with Teal Sound. Teal's 2001 "Symphony and Metallica" show captivated me, and as much as I wanted to watch Peter, I was too drawn to the color guard. I remember at the home show, I tapped my mom on the shoulder and pointed to one of the girls, saying, "I want to do that and be just like her." I felt like a little girl again, dreaming about becoming a ballerina. Once Peter came home from tour, I told him of my dreams to march in Teal Sound with him. He told me straightforward that it would be hard work and that the staff would be eager to work with me (since I had no "bad technique" to begin with). In November at the first camp, I showed up alongside Peter, not knowing a single thing about marching or flag technique. It took me the entire time to catch up to the level of the others, but eventually I made it. Like Peter said, it was tough and at times I wanted to quit, but I stuck to it because I wanted to make Peter and my parents proud. Before every show, Teal huddles up and says a prayer. Peter always got a special prayer from me, but I always would say another prayer as we were standing on the sidelines getting ready to go. After we took the field and the horn line was through with their "Good lucks" and "Love you guys," Peter and I would find one another on the 45-yard line and give each other a big hug. It was like an unspoken, "I'm on the field with you. Do good." Whether Peter knows it or not, every single show I performed, I performed for him. I made sure I did my best that day for him. Every time I did my best it was like a major thank-you to him for introducing me to drum corps. It's extremely comforting to know that my brother was there for me the entire time. From smashing my finger in a door, going to an emergency room because of heat exhaustion, and to that day of semifinals last season. Peter and I have had a connection that is rare between non-related people in the corps. I would be somewhere else and doing something completely different and I would get this feeling that either something bad happened or something really good happened. Before we left the show site after semifinals, our parents had told us that there was a good chance of us moving and that last year was our last year with Teal. (Thankfully it wasn't.) After the corps got back to the housing site that night, everyone sat in the center of the gym. We were all talking about our performance when the staff came in to talk to us about the past season. Peter and I found each other and shifted around to sit next to each other. While the staff would take their turns of congratulating us on a good season, Peter and I were in the back hugging each other and crying on each other's shoulder. Everyone stood up when the staff was done and we sang our corps song, "Nothing Else Matters," for the last time. Peter and I choked out two or three lines of the first verse when we started to sob and cry on each other's shoulder. I don't age-out until 2009; Peter only has three more years. I've made a promise to myself that for every year possible until his age-out year, I will be on the same field as him, singing the same corps song, standing in the same corps huddle, and performing the same show. I will fight with all my heart to march with him as many years as possible. I don't like thinking about competing against him, though it may be fun. I'd much rather share the same field at the same time -- more than anything else in the world. My first year after Peter's age-out and the years to follow will never be the same -- some in good ways, some in bad. Until then, I don't want to think about my years marching without Peter! Mandi Gissiner
Teal Sound Guard, 2002 to present 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.