Marching Music

Making the Switch: Drum Corps to Marching Band
September 10, 2007, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Drum & Bugle Corps, marching band

This post is more for band directors and students who do both, than it is for the average reader, but it can be educational for either:

Cadets 06 Denver

Drum Corps International provides an extracurricular (marching) music experience like no other for thousands of dedicated students every year, so why is it that many band directors discourage participation?  I believe that this occurs because participants have a hard time making the switch from the highly competive, extreme high intensity of drum and bugle corps back to their high school or college bands.  The two are completely different worlds, as they should be. 

I’ll start off by sharing my sister’s present story with you.  She marched with Southwind this summer at the age of 15.  That is quite a feat in itself.  She fell in love with the people, the atmosphere and the intensity.  Now she is back in high school, marching around a parking lot 2 days per week.  Her high school program is good, but it is certainly not a drum corps.  She is still struggling with adjusting to working with the kids who just don’t care the way she does.  She has even developed an attitude about it…that is what I want to caution against.  Many times band directors discourage drum corps participation because of the attitudes with which their students return.  Admittedly, students who return from drum corps have done something on a higher level than the typical high school marching band.  It is when these students return with a superiority complex that they hurt, not help their band mates.  I would like to caution high school age participants against giving the drum corps community a bad name.  Please use your experience for the good of the group and, if you have to, take the group for what is.  Have fun. 

College band is a little different.  I don’t think that I have ever met a college band director who discouraged his students’ participation in drum corps.  Maybe this is because many college students who are in drum corps do not participate in their college marching bands.  I am one of the few individuals I know who do participate.  It took me 3 years to, as we say in the corps, “figure it out,” but I think that I’ve finally gotten it.  College band is much easier to adjust to than high school band because it is the most different.  You don’t have to worry about competing on a lower level because most college bands never compete at all.  College band (and I really never thought that I would allow myself to use this cliche about ANY band) is all about having fun and getting to know people.  It is what it is.  Have fun with it.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with this (and coming from a Cadet, this is going to sound farmiliar.)
Everything that you do is a choice.  Choose to have a good time in your high school or college band.  Bring back the wealth of amazing knowledge that you were given this past summer and share it as much as you can with your director.  Engage in civilized, intelligent conversations with your band staff so that they can see what an amazing product the drum corps community really puts out. 


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