The student news site of Rockwood Summit High School

The Talon

Drum Corp

Isabella Eslick, News Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Drum corps, an activity related to marching band, is garnering even more attention than ever before from current students and numerous alumni.

Unlike marching band, drum corps only allows brass and percussion instruments and a colorguard. Hundreds of corps operate independently across the country. The season spans from mid-May to mid-August. Junior Connor Pepin said Instagram and videos introduced him to drum corps.

“I was going through one of the marching band feeds that I was following on Instagram and they had a video of the drum major getting ‘stabbed’ in Phantom Regiment 2008 and I thought ‘holy heck, that’s pretty awesome.’ So I looked up ‘drum corps drum major gets stabbed,’ watched that show, then watched several others,” Pepin said.

Drum corps compete on a major scale that requires intense precision to be successful. The most popular circuit for corps to compete in is Drum Corps International (DCI) in either world class or open class. Having this prior knowledge, alumna Rachel Sneed (class of 2017) said this is what drove her to march corps this past summer.

 

“I feel that it’s important to challenge yourself and not be satisfied with wherever you stand; there is always room for improvement,” Sneed said. “I felt pretty on top in our marching band and I wanted to raise my personal skill level with a group of individuals who are also the best at what they do, which in turn taught me and gave me lots more skills.”

Audition camps are held in the winter and can often include hundreds of students 21 and below fighting for a little over 100 spots. In Sneed’s case with the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle corps, there were about 80 people auditioning for 2 to 3 baritone/euphonium spots at the second camp and she said she almost didn’t make it.

“For the auditions, you either get a callback or you get cut, callback meaning they want you to come back for another audition and cut meaning they don’t think you have the skill they’re looking for,” Sneed said. “I actually got cut at my first audition, but there wasn’t a rule against going back if you got cut and trying again. I worked really hard and went back to audition. I felt a lot less nervous since I had done the same process already and had a very good audition the second time. The corps director and assistant director pulled me into a room and told me that was the most improvement from audition to audition that they had every seen in the history of the business. I got my contract that camp.”

In order to learn the show, corps hold what is called spring training. Alum Jonathan Gacioch (class of 2017), who has marched Blue Stars for two years, said this is the most difficult aspect of the summer.

“Spring training is probably the most physically intense thing I will ever do. Rehearsing for 12 hours a day takes everything out of you. There wasn’t a night where I didn’t collapse onto my bed and fall asleep. Shade becomes a forgotten treasure. If you aren’t drinking two gallons of water a day, then you’re wrong. Four meals a day is necessary because we burn over 5000 calories a day. However, this is where many of the best stories are made because the worst memories are the ones we remember the most,” Gacioch said.

Once spring training is over, corps tour the country performing at various competitions, practicing at high schools (Summit included this year) and sleeping on charter buses. The culmination of the summer for nearly all

Participants is DCI World Championships. This is a three stage competition held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The top 12 scoring corps advance to finals. Blue Stars (2016) and Blue Knights (2017) trumpet player senior Cole Beck said the feeling of performing in finals and then standing in retreat, also know as the awards ceremony, is unreal.

“You look back at the entire summer and all of the work you put into one show with all of the other people in your corps. Then you think about that and realize there are 11 other corps standing beside you thinking the same thing,” Beck said.

Beck’s mother Deanna Beck said she was initially a tad worried when her son told her he wanted to march drum corps but was still supportive nonetheless.

“I was excited for him and a little bit nervous that my 16 year old would be going off for 85 days without me, but I also knew that that happens often in drum corps world. I felt like he was probably going to be okay,” Deanna said.

Deanna said she travelled to several competitions to see Cole and give him food to keep on the bus. She said the furthest she ventured was Seattle, Washington.

Drum corps can be something that members completely invest themselves into, including their emotions. Gacioch said the end of the summer is when you really start to feel how much the activity means to you.

“The emotional toll of drum corps often doesn’t hit until after the season,” Gacioch said. “ People often refer to it as ‘post tour depression.’ It’s when you finally realize that there are some people that you gave your heart and soul to who you’ll never see again and you’re wishing for just one more time to put the show on the field. It sometimes takes a while to get over and occasionally it sneaks back up when you thought you were through with it.”

Cole said it takes certain types of people to be able to make it through drum corps and anyone who wants to march has to be ready for that challenge.

“They should go audition if they enjoy marching band, but they can’t walk into drum corps thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park. They have to be competitive about it and serious about it,” Cole said.

Cole said it takes certain types of people to be able to make it through drum corps and anyone who wants to march has to be ready for that challenge.

“They should go audition if they enjoy marching band, but they can’t walk into drum corps thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park. They have to be competitive about it and serious about it,” Cole said.

 

Due to the extreme nature of drum corps, Pepin said he is already preparing so he can do well at an audition camp this winter.

“I’m practicing for at least an hour a day and definitely working on basics as much as possible to make sure I’m strong there so I can do more complex stuff as easily as possible,” Pepin said. “Ben Prange and I have been doing pushups at marching band rehearsals. I have to have a  high level of discipline so when we end up going it’s kind of taking account of ‘I make a mistake so I have to work to make sure I don’t make that mistake again.’ It’s kind of training myself to not mistakes so I don’t have to do the pushups.”

Percussion director Peter Repp has also marched drum corps, specifically with the Colts in 2009 and 2010 and the Cavaliers in 2011. He said he tries to encourage students to audition because he knows how much it will help them later in life.

“It’s something that I got legitimately as close to perfection as I will ever probably get as far as spending literally months on the same music and drill,” Repp said. “I don’t think many people at any point in their life put that much time and energy into one single project. The greater picture is your perspective on what you’re capable of for whatever you decide to do. You have a better perpesctive on what it feels like to max something out rather than making it pretty darn good and stopping. It’s also great networking and a great way to make friends. Most of my best friends I marched with. You also get way better at music because you’re playing 12 hours a day everyday. You have no choice but to get better regardless of where you march.”

Even through the hardships, drum corps is a place where people say they can flourish. Sneed said she came back a different person and learned that this activity is much more complex than the general public thinks.

“Drum corps has taught me discipline, maturity and knowledge about my body that nothing else wll ever do,” Sneed said. “I’ve made life long connections and memories and now I’m in the best shape of my life. For everyone, it’s not just about ‘being a band nerd.’ It’s about the respect for people in this activity that push and push themselves right until the point of collapse then pushing a little more. The pride and love you feel at the end of an amazing show is indescribable.”It’s something that I got legitimately as close to perfection as I will ever probably get as far as spending literally months on the same music and drill,” Repp said. “I don’t think many people at any point in their life put that much time and energy into one single project. The greater picture is your perspective on what you’re capable of for whatever you decide to do. You have a better perspective on what it feels like to max something out rather than making it pretty darn good and stopping. It’s also great networking and a great way to make friends. Most of my best friends I marched with. You also get way better at music because you’re playing 12 hours a day everyday. You have no choice but to get better regardless of where you march.”

Even through the hardships, drum corps is a place where people say they can flourish. Sneed said she came back a different person and learned that this activity is much more complex than the general public thinks.

“Drum corps has taught me discipline, maturity and knowledge about my body that nothing else will ever do,” Sneed said. “I’ve made life long connections and memories and now I’m in the best shape of my life. For everyone, it’s not just about ‘being a band nerd.’ It’s about the respect for people in this activity that push and push themselves

right until the point of collapse then pushing a little more. The pride and love you feel at the end of an amazing show is indescribable.”

 

Other info:

Rachel Sneed tore her adductor muscles, hip flexor and the muscles where the glute meets the hamstring. She was out for a week and a half. She’s lucky her spot didn’t get taken by an alternate (Blue Stars had used up all of their alternates.)

Joy Eslick marched Southwind in 1993.

Joe Padawan marched Pioneer and Phantom Regiment since he was a little kid.

Justin Sheedy (class 2016), Boston Crusaders 2015, Santa Clara Vanguard 2016 and 2017

A few others sporadically, no for sure names

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The student news site of Rockwood Summit High School
Drum Corp