The season has recently ended, and for many, it's time to think about marching in a corps for the first time. If you're one of those sitting on the fence, wondering if the experience is worth the sacrifice, then read on. The following are thoughts from three marchers who wanted to march, gave up something to do so, and got back so much more in return, plus one who is ready to go through the same sacrifices. Jason Chafatelli is waiting for the day he can march. Just about every time I got into my brother's car, he would turn up the Madison Scouts' 1996 show. I was in sixth grade at the time, and would always yell at him to turn it off, because frankly, I did not know what good music was. My brother was a big drum corps fan and he and my dad went to the Murfreesboro, Tenn., "Masters Of The Summer Music Games" DCI event. In 2000, both of my brothers and my dad went to the event and left me home because I said I was not interested in drum corps. After they came back, it was all they could talk about -- especially about how the Cadets had this amazing tenor/snare solo and how they played each other's horns and how the Cavaliers did their "rock 'n roll" segment of the "Niagara Falls" show. So, being that I am a drummer, I had to check out the solos from the Cadets. I asked my snare teacher if I could borrow his DCI DVD when it came out. He let me borrow it and as I watched the Cadets and the Cavaliers, my mouth dropped to the floor in amazement. At my brother's band camp in 2000, the Cadets stopped at Austin Peay University and gave each section a clinic and then played their 2000 show. It was the first time I had experienced WHAT GOOD MUSIC REALLY IS. I am now the biggest drum corps fan in my 200-plus member band. If anybody asks what my favorite shows are, I tell them, "EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!" I admire so much how hard every drum corps works to become great. I know about hard work -- our band is 21-time state champs. I am waiting for the day to march one of my favorite corps. Every year I am amazed at how much I grow to love Drum Corps International more and more. I will continue to love the sport and will participate in it. In the meantime, I'm collecting shirts, CDs and videos. Mary Paxitzis just finished a season as drum major with the Marion Glory Cadets. Here's her story. I started marching drum corps when I was 15. I didn't know anything about corps and played the alto saxophone, but my older sister Rachel marched with the Cincinnati Glory color guard in 1997 and 1998. So, I went to a camp in 1999 and became hooked. I switched to baritone horn and picked it up quickly because I was a good sight-reader. The Cincinnati Glory was my family that whole year in 2000. I loved each and every one of them. But that year was so sad in the end, as our corps director, Tim Cardinal, told us he had to fold the corps due to his very sick child and financial difficulties. We all cried. We only had one bus, we didn't have a corps hall and we were very small, with about ten horns in the beginning of the season. We ended up with 13 toward the end and we became a small powerhouse. Our 13 horns sounded like double that on the field. We all knew our book and it was one of the best summers of my life. We took the bronze medal in Division III at the DCI World Championships in College Park, Md., that year. Our corps ended up merging with the Marion Cadets, who had a corps hall and was well off financially. I continued to march in 2001 and 2002 as baritone section leader and soloist, but had to take a year off in 2003 due to financial difficulties. I couldn't pay my bills and I had no transportation anywhere. I was basically stuck. Drum corps drove me crazy in the summer of 2003. It was awful for me. I could hear drums and horns in my head. I didn't even go to one drum corps show and I was heart broken. Glory was my family and I couldn't be there. I was willing to sacrifice everything for Glory but my family wouldn't let me go. Anyway, this year I came back as drum major. Drum corps is my family and hobby. I am an opera singer at Wright State University, a sophomore double major in music performance and education. I'm also in the Wright State collegiate chorale and women's chorale. I help out with winter guard shows, indoor percussion and marching band. I hope one day to be a horn or drill tech for corps on top of my opera singing. Travis Mabrey just finished a season as a marimbist with Carolina Crown. I had never thought myself worthy of such an organization as Carolina Crown, but my high school instructors pushed me to test myself, henceforth allowing me to shed my modesty concerning my skill. Why does someone join DCI? Well, I suppose many could say for love of the music; they either want to better themselves as musicians or just simply be part of something unique and great. Would it make us seem selfish to join for the sake of personal advancement? Of course not! We all develop as people and musicians through the course of a season. Anyone entering with the wrong attitude either adjusts to the corps' philosophy and changes for the better or simply fails to absorb the true meaning and camaraderie synonymous with the activity. If they don't change, they have wasted their time. As each new pupil approaches the idea of joining a drum corps, they are first faced with a certain self-revelation. This is when we all ask ourselves just how good we think we are. Some are too humble and fail to appreciate themselves, while others take the opportunity to pit themselves against the odds and vie for a position in the corps of their choice. One joins a particular corps because they want to grow and are willing to put all their strength and time into making music happen. I grew very fond of my instructor and section after a single camp and could honestly see myself spending a season with the corps. The most influential people in my career have always told me that the best players may mistakes only because they are pushing themselves to do better and that those people are the ones to keep in your company. Sandy Lister marched with the Crossmen in 1979, 1980 and 1981. She addressed something I wrote in Fanfare. Hi Michael: You've written, "You're only young once. You've got the rest of your life to make money." This so very true and is exactly the attitude I had then and still have to this day. When I was 19, I was offered a full scholarship to a university so I could teach their guard. I turned it down because I feared it would interfere with my goal of marching in a drum corps. I felt, "I can always go to college, but I can't always march in a junior corps." I know a lot of people did do both and it was financially hard on them. Because the university would mean further distance to rehearsals, I decided not to accept the offer. When I was 20, I was working for a growing grocery store chain. I had been promoted to a supervisor position when the owner approached me. He knew I had submitted a request asking for three months of personal leave of absence. I guess he thought that if he enticed me with the position of being the store manager, I would reconsider taking that much time off. I explained to him that working at the store was helping me fund my dreams. It had always been a passion I loved, being involved with music and performing. Asking me to give up those dreams would be like asking me to die that very day! He kept on telling me what a mistake I was making and that I would look back someday and regret not taking that position. To this day I have not regretted it. I marched three very memorable years with the Crossmen. I have had students in the school guard I teach go to the Crossmen; one marched seven years with the corps and now teaches another high school guard. I've also taught Jennie and Kelly Anderson, who were featured in Fanfare columns a while back. I encourage all my students to at least try drum corps, especially if they love to perform. I've lost count over the years of how many of my students went on to pursue their drum corps dreams.
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.