Sara Morgan contributed this column. It's that time of year again when many young adults are returning to their drum corps families. Many more young adults are attending their first drum corps audition camps, with a personal vision of claiming one of the up to 150 coveted spots allotted to each corps. Emotions are running high for the students and the parents. Whether you are a "newbie" parent, or your child has marched before; this article is for you. How can I help? What do I know that you don't know? I marched as a member of Spirit of Atlanta in the early 1980s. My father marched with the Racine Kilties back in the day, and my son is currently marching his third year as a member of the Carolina Crown. I have volunteered with this corps since the first camp we attended. I have sewn show flags, gone shopping for food, and helped with food preparation and camp registration, just to name a few things. My advice is to get involved from the beginning with your child's corps. Encouragement, support, love and money are the things your child needs from you, no matter their age. Get involved from the beginning with your child's corps. Encouragement, support, love and money are the things your child needs from you, no matter their age. The first audition or rehearsal camp often is emotionally the hardest for both parents and students, especially if you have a younger child. Each corps has their own procedures and traditions; subsequently this may be new and different from any other music organizations you have been involved with in the past. Your encouragement will be very important. Your child will be working hard to make the brass, percussion or color guard sections, and as the parent, your heart bleeds for their struggle. Volunteering shows your child that you are working as hard as they are with this organization. Working on the food truck is a great way to see your child without having to be the "pesky parent." During meal breaks you can secretly give them the "keep your chin up" wink or nod, encouraging them to push forward and not give up. From your child's perspective, it is more than just encouragement; it is a "friendly" face in the crowd. Additionally, it also is a clear signal to the corps staff and faculty that you, the parent, are also willing to roll your sleeves up and get involved. Sure the drum corps experience can be expensive. Some have theorized that this musical activity is only for the rich, but I would disagree completely. The camp fees pay for a weekend of musical, marching and color guard instruction, as well as housing and food. Students at these weekend camps, on average, will have received more than 24 hours of instructional time. If the average camp is $75, you are paying approximately $3 an hour for the best and brightest instructional staff in the drum corps activity. Tour fees pay for uniforms, food, transportation, and the highly specialized musical instruction they are receiving on a daily basis. A corps fee of $1500 divided by the 80 days (approximately) on tour equals $18.75 a day. That in my opinion makes it clear; drum corps participation is a bargain. The level of instructional staff in this activity is the best in the country, and your child will learn, grow and excel every day. Your child has only a limited amount of time to mach in this world-class activity. I would encourage you as a parent to see how unique and special drum corps is and to help financially so that your child can participate in an activity that will have a life-long positive effect. Love is unconditional between parent and child. Love your child. Support your child in drum corps. If the cash flow is difficult within the family situation, there are often opportunities to earn money through corps sponsored events such as bingo, save money through scheduled dues payments, or be helped through outside donations or sponsorships. Another amazing thing happens when a child participates in drum corps. You as a parent will discover something that your child is passionate about. This is a passion worth supporting. Children are exposed to so many inappropriate temptations through movies, peer pressure, the Internet, etc., and it is inspirational to see them put themselves into something so well rounded and wholesome. This passion and love for drum corps has many side effects that will carry over into their adulthood. The corps experience will build character and create an incredible work ethic that I as a former member even see in myself to this day. Pride, character, devotion and passion are but a few of the characteristics your children will develop while marching with their drum corps families. Their experience will be life altering and worth the time, money and effort that went into it, making a substantial contribution to your children's futures. The drum corps activity will help to shape their lives as they move from childhood to adulthood.

Editorial assistance by Michael Boo. Fanfare archives