Joel Barnes, a Crossmen mellophone player and a math major at Yale University, will be contributing a weekly column to Here's his fourth installment. First off I'd like to say thanks to everyone who's written me e-mail over the past couple weeks. It's really cool to hear other people's opinions on my perspective of the activity.

Joel Barnes
When we left off last time I promised to go to career services and get some things in order for choosing a direction for next year. Well, it took me a couple weeks longer than I expected, since they are really busy this time of year, but I got an appointment and chatted with a career advisor for a while. Along with some of the advise I received there, as well as some of my own investigation, I've narrowed my choices into three general areas: Working in "industry" (i.e. as an analyst or something similar that you would probably find terribly boring), going to graduate school for math, or getting a few years teaching experience before making any big career decisions. Now this might as well just be a blog entry if I don't try to relate it to my drum corps experience, so what we're really going to talk about here is something that goes hand-in-hand with drum corps: Teaching. For many spectators and fans, the first things that come to mind when they think of drum corps may be excitement, entertainment, musicianship or athleticism, but when you are actually a member of a drum corps, you repeatedly hear the same common theme: Drum corps is about the education of young people, and for many of the top corps, that extends to the training of young people to become educators. How often have you heard your instructor say, "Remember this for when you become a teacher"? For many members, this means valuable experience toward a career in music education, but I've struggled to justify it for myself, since I've known since I applied to college that I would not be a music teacher or professional musician. This season I had an interesting opportunity to assess the impact that membership and leadership in corps had on me: I got hurt. Around the second week of spring training I suffered a minor tear in my Achilles tendon, which made marching at all extremely painful, and marching effectively impossible. Along with considering how best to show leadership while working through an injury (perhaps the topic of a future article?), I also got the chance to observe the corps from a front-row seat (the end zone infirmary). I was able to take notes in a journal and get a handle on something I had kept in the back of my mind for a while: I could not wait to get on the field and teach! Everyone has opinions on their instructors, but this season I constantly went over those criticisms in my head and on paper to form ideas that will make me a better teacher in the future. All things considered, looking back on my three years, I think what has kept me coming back is a real interest in what makes the 135 individuals on the field work together in an effective way to get the final product to such a high level. I've always enjoyed thinking about the basic concepts that we take for granted; trying to understand what really makes them work, and help others understand it as well. This is at the core of mathematics as well as being an effective marcher. So yeah, I really want to teach something, somewhere, at least for a while. Unfortunately, up until now, I haven't really gotten a chance. I taught one week of band camp at a high school band, which was an amazing experience, but it was only one week and I just haven't found time in my schedule to do it again, or for a whole season. Obviously teaching in a drum corps would be great, but obviously that's more something to do after I age out. Looking back, I should have spent a lot more time at school doing tutoring, but I've had a decent job and very little extra time so I quite frankly never got around to it. So you can probably expect to see me writing more about teaching in the future, especially since this week I will be filling out applications to a couple programs. I'll really have to think about it even more in depth. For those of you who are considering marching drum corps, or are parents of prospective marchers, I really want you to realize the value of being a corps member. Leadership and education, by both members and instructors, are two topics that are taken very seriously in drum corps, and there is no end to the insight and character you can develop by dedicating yourself to the improvement of your corps.
Joel Barnes' past columns: The Real world Your first three years in drum corps 109,440 Minutes Joel Barnes has completed three seasons with the Crossmen, where he served as mellophone section leader and soloist for the 2005 season. He is 21 years old (DCI class of '06), and in the off-season he keeps busy by attending Yale University, from which he intends to receive a bachelors degree in mathematics this coming June. Joel keeps his legs and chops in shape by playing on the Yale Ultimate Frisbee team, and with the Yale Precision Marching Band, respectively. Feel free to E-mail him at with questions regarding the Crossmen, drum corps in general, or your math homework.