Drum Corps International
The Trials and tribulations of having a non-drum-corps spouse

The Trials and tribulations of having a non-drum-corps spouse

by Michael Boo

Kathy (LeMahieu) Roeder is a Blue Stars alumni who marched in 1976 and 1977. She currently lives in Ripon, Wis., with her husband and 6-year-old son and is entering her third year as a fundraising volunteer with the Blue Stars. "You're going WHERE? WHY?!" This is the incredulous response I got last spring when I told my husband, Mark, that my old drum corps was going to be practicing a few minutes from our home, and I planned to spend the week volunteering all day long. After 27 years (could I REALLY be that old?) of non-involvement in drum corps and 10 years of marriage, I dropped this bomb on my husband one day. I couldn't really blame him. I mean, imagine being married to someone for 10 years and then out of the blue, they become interested in something totally outside your realm of interest. Suddenly they are gone for extended periods of time, whether you like it or not. I suspect none of us would be too thrilled. Now, for those of you who married "outside of drum corps," you can sympathize with me. Drum corps is an entity all its own, and for the uninitiated, it's hard to explain the desire to work all day volunteering for a bunch of kids you don't even know. To prepare him, I had read inspirational articles to my husband written by other people who have marched. I had played him my old Blue Stars DVDs. The pictures had come out on more than one occasion over last winter. I had managed over the previous few months to work the Blue Stars into conversation on a regular basis, and had even talked him into stuffing envelopes for a couple of hours one evening for our capital fund drive. I spent so many hours on the phone -- talking to the executive director about projects -- that my husband recognized his voice when he called. I did all this just to prepare him for volunteering over the summer. Yet, it was still a shock. Now, to be fair, I dropped that bomb in the middle of planting season, and my husband, a farmer all his life, had never, ever taken off during planting time. It just isn't done in the farming world. So, when I heard that comment, I thought, "Uh oh, here it comes." Yet I found that drum corps had worked its magic once again. Instead of complaining about me leaving him for a week for the corps, he actually went along with it without complaint! My first thought was, "WOW! Who are you and what have you done with my husband?!" Then I ran as fast as I could for the corps! Even more exciting, my husband came and volunteered for an afternoon -- serving lunch! Could it be? Could we have a new drum corps fan? The biggest test was yet to come. The year-end banquet was coming, which meant a five-hour drive the day after Thanksgiving. It would mean my husband would have to take a day of vacation from his job in town, and spend the weekend at a drum corps camp. Would he take the bait? I held my breath as I brought up the subject, thinking I was asking way too much. He looked at me, and said he'd see if he could get the day off. Just that -- no complaint, no rolling eyes, just that he would try to get the day off. After I recovered, I wisely decided not to tease him. I just let the subject drop. Sure enough, we spent the weekend with the corps, and I had a blast! I talked with old friends, met the new corps members, and listened to auditions and rehearsals while my long-suffering husband entertained our 6-year-old son who was fascinated with the drum line. Hmmm -- maybe auditions in 2016? My husband carefully observed the discipline of the drum line, the beauty of the guard and the glorious sound of the horn line. He watched the volunteers, watched how well they all worked together, how happy they were, and what a great bunch of people I was involved with. He was especially impressed with the members -- as respect, discipline, hard work and dedication are very important to him. I could see the respect growing in his eyes. After it was all over, I overheard him talking about the weekend to a buddy, and he actually sounded like he enjoyed it! Of course, I realize that he'll never really completely understand drum corps. I'll probably never see him in the stands screaming at the top of his lungs because the corps just did a company front or just formed the traditional star. Yet, when I think back to when I first started mentioning the Blue Stars and drum corps, it's amazing how things have changed. Back then he asked, "So that's all they do all summer, instead of getting a job?" I think he knows now that's not ALL they do. It's more than just marching and performing. It's more than you can put into words. So, what am I saying? I'm saying that even the most uninitiated, completely uncomprehending spouse can learn to appreciate drum corps, and little by little the corps experience can work its magic into just about anyone -- even my husband. Hmm -- I'm wondering how many years it'll take me to convince him to drive a bus for a week? Fanfare archives Michael Boo has been involved with drum 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.