Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Drum Corps International

I knew that I was going to get around to this subject eventually! There are always people who don't know about this activity, which is why I love telling people about it. Drum Corps International (DCI) is a professional activity that's been taking place since 1972. I've spent my fair share of time participating in this activity (I marched 2003 Esperanza, 2006 Carolina Crown, 2007-2008 Music City Legend, 2009 Spirit, and 2011 Colts) Think of it this way:

NFL is to football and NLB is to baseball just as DCI is to marching band! It can literally be described as "professional marching band" (minus woodwinds and trombones). According to DCI.org, more than 8,000 students audition for about 3,500 positions in top-tier drum corps every summer. These corps are made up of 3 parts: the hornline, the colorguard, and the percussion:





Percussion (Front Ensemble)
Percussion (Battery)
  According to DCI's regulations, a corps can contain no more than 150 performing members and there are about 40+ corps around the nation. During the months of November and December, these corps hold audition and experience camps at their respective locations (and sometimes in various large cities around the U.S.) where hundreds of student come from all around to participate. After the camps, the students that were chosen receive a written contract, signifying their membership with the corps. In the following months, camps are held once a month to learn music and drill. Once May arrives, corps go into "spring training" (also known as "all-days") which is were the performing members move into their respective rehearsal sites where they'll spend the next month perfecting the show. In June, the corps pack up from their rehearsal sites and set out on the road to tour until August.
While on tour, your days are pretty much divided into four different types:
  • Rehearsal Days: These days are literally no different from the schedule that took place during spring training. You wake up, rehearse for about 13 hours, and then go to sleep.
  • Show Days: These days are abbreviated versions of rehearsal days. After rehearsal is over, the members are given a few hours to shower, pack up their things, get into uniform, and load the buses before the corps heads to the performance site. Once the show is done, everyone loads the buses again to travel towards the next show site.
  • Laundry Days: Some corps get these types of days more than others, but still they're DEFINITELY needed. You'd be surprised by how quickly you'll burn through your clothes when you're rehearsing anywhere from 6 to 14 hours a day. Typically, this day takes place during a rehearsal day; rehearsal is shortened to allow time for this to happen. 
  • Free Days: As mentioned above, some corps get more of these days than others, but most corps usually have two of these per season. It's simply a day where the members allowed to roam free and enjoy the city for most of the day.
All of this leads up to finals night, which is usually around the second weekend of August. Unfortunately, there is an age limit in this activity; you "age out" on the year of your 21st birthday (unless you were born after June 1st, in which you're allowed to march on the year of your 22nd birthday).
Drum corps is one of those activities that falls under the saying, "To those that know, no explanation is needed; to those that don't, no explanation is possible." It's something you simply just have to experience, whether if it's as a performing member or a spectator. When you think about it in the end, these kids are spending about nine-and-a-half months to perform about 10 minutes worth of music. Yet, here's an example of the caliber of the performance level you'll be experiencing in those 10 minutes:
If you have any questions about the activity and my personal experiences while participating, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK! I LOVE TALKING ABOUT THIS STUFF!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness Josh! I LOVE LOVE LOVE drum corps. I wish I could march so much, but I cannot because of my injury to my leg. This is amazing that you have marched in so many corps. I hope you continue to march, and of course have a great time with it. Now about your blog, great job on this piece. Thank you for enlightening everyone on this great sport.