Drum Corps International
Tips and tricks to make your member's home show a memorable experience

Tips and tricks to make your member's home show a memorable experience

by Drum Corps International

One of the most eagerly anticipated shows in a corps member's summer is the home show – the show that is in, or geographically near, a member's hometown. The home show is special because the member's friends and family will be able to come see the member march, elevating that person to temporary stardom. This is a fun experience for one and all. For parents, this is an opportunity to admire your special member's skills and development – at least, that's what s/he thinks! Actually, it's a chance to reassure yourself that your kid is okay, eating enough, not getting into trouble, etc ... but of course, we won't let on; that can remain your little secret. The important thing to remember is, home shows should be all about the member and his/her opportunity to show off what s/he is doing all summer long.

Emily Tannert
One thing that can be difficult for new corps parents – who are most likely accustomed to the band parent life – is that drum corps is a professional-level activity. Every summer, every corps director has to explain that a member being in his/her hometown for the day does not necessarily mean that the parent can take the member away from a rehearsal, out for lunch or dinner, or home to sleep in a real bed and shower at home. For the sake of the individual member and the corps as a whole, it is generally best if a member remains with the corps at all times. A great alternative can be when parents deliver a special dinner – usually some form of hard-to-get fast food – at the corps member's request. Different corps have different rules on this, so be sure to check and make sure it's okay. And keep in mind that many corps forbid members to drink carbonated beverages on show days (carbonation inhibits the absorption of oxygen into the blood stream, definitely not a good thing when you're blowing a horn while running for 10 minutes straight). Also keep in mind that although your corps member wants to visit with his/her family and friends at a home show, the best time for that is after the show takes place. New parents are often disappointed when they spend half the day sitting in the stands watching rehearsal and only get a passing "hello" between the rehearsal and the show. Or friends arrive at the show to watch warm-up, and they don't understand why their bud can't hang out for a few before going on the field. In reality, members are doing their best to stay focused despite the chaos that typically takes place at a show site, and wish they could tell their well-meaning and much-appreciated friends and family to just go away for awhile! Believe me, every member loves it when dear ones show up just to watch him/her, but s/he has a job to do, so please understand that s/he just wants to turn in the best possible performance for you. It's okay to stop and say hi, but keep it short, and be sure to tell your member to go ahead and do what s/he needs to do and not worry about you. It will make him/her feel better about ditching you to know you understand! Chances are that if your member is going to be in town, s/he will put in a request for supplies. It's always fun when family brings treats, especially if there's enough to share with friends. If possible, bring enough for an entire section (for example, a flat or two of 12-ounce bottles of Gatorade) or the whole bus (a tray of cookies or brownies). If you are going to bring food in a limited quantity, give it directly to the member. If you're interested in bringing a food donation for the whole corps, remember that you most likely need to calculate a double portion for each person, so that's essentially 300 servings (depending on the size of your child's corps). Nothing is worse than running out of the special treat because there's not enough! Ice pops and popsicles work well here, since portion size is easy to control. Fresh fruit—especially watermelon—is a particularly welcome donation as it is hard to obtain on tour. If possible, check ahead of time with the tour director about what you plan to bring and the quantity – again, the goal is to ensure that there is enough for everyone to have the same thing. In the fortuitous event that your member is close to home on his or her birthday, it is entirely appropriate to take a small treat to celebrate and let the corps know. Just bear in mind the portion rules mentioned above – cupcakes, brownies and cookies usually work best in these situations, accompanied by a nice sign, or a balloon or two. Cake and ice cream usually isn't a good option because it takes at least six industrial-sized sheet cakes and 10 gallons of ice cream to feed a corps! Also remember that a corps is on a diverse schedule—especially after a show—so even if you do bring something for everyone to enjoy, don't expect all 134 other members to gather around and sing happy birthday to your son or daughter (Chances are that already happened at the end of rehearsal anyway!). And whether or not it's your member's birthday, if you treat the corps to an extra-special goody, your child will be everybody's favorite person for a day! Another option that allows you to take part in the corps experience is to volunteer for the day. Most corps can always use an extra set of hands to chop veggies or rip seams, and you'll get a chance to view corps life from the inside. Swapping stories with the other tour parents can be quite enlightening! And you'll get a chance to see the people your child is spending his or her days with for more than a few minutes. It's very helpful to the corps if day volunteers buy their own tickets to that night's show. Corps do get free passes for volunteers and staff, but these are usually in short supply, and reserved for longer-term volunteers if at all possible. All members love home shows not only because they get to see the people they care about, but also because they have a chance to show off their own skill and hard work, and help the people back home make a connection with the activity they care so much about. So go admire the machine at work, and be sure to let your member know how proud you are of him or her! Whether or not you have the inclination or ability to volunteer for the day or show up with 10 watermelons in tow, your presence is the greatest gift and vote of caring and confidence any member could ask for.   
Emily Tannert is a music education/percussion performance major at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., and holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. Emily graduated from the Glassmen in 2003 and was assistant tour manager for the corps in 2004 and 2005. You can contact Emily at emily@imoses.com.
View archived Emily Tannert columns.