Sunday, August 05, 2012


On Friday, the Musician's high school had the privilege of hosting a Drum Corps International competition. For all the band students at my daughter's high school, it was a great opportunity to see these Corps, as Drum Corps International features the very best brass and percussion corps in the country. The Corps practice perhaps twelve hours a day in the heat of the summer, and when they are not performing or practicing, they are on a tour bus or sleeping on a gym floor. The bands also feature a color guard, dancers who moved flags or twirled batons, sabres, ribbons or wooden rifles, who work very hard as well. There was so much activity going on on the whole football field, that you couldn't take everything in at once. It was also fun to watch the judges, who literally get right into the competition. There were eight different judges, each rating one portion of the presentation. Judges follow the band around the field, talking into a recorder to preserve their observations in real time. One judge who particularly stood out was tall and stocky, and was the one who wove the most in and out among the musicians, gesticulating wildly with one arm. It must be very hard to face forward and maintain your composure while a judge is ducking under your tuba!

Have you seen any of the videos where two songs are mashed together? Like Thunderbusters? Well, the DCI corps Music City out of Nashville, Tennessee, presented a program called Phantom of the Grand Ole Opery. Somehow they managed to weave in Ring of Fire and the theme song Phantom of the Opera, then Your Cheatin' Heart and Music of the Night. They also played Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Point of No Return, Stand By Your Man and All I Ask of You. The male color guard members wore Phantom style half-masks for most of their performance. I couldn't help but think how hot it must have been to wear those.

All the DCI groups had some kind of "theme," although some of them were more obvious than others. The thing I noticed most about the 7th Regiment out of New London, Connecticut, was the drum major. With a fu manchu mustache, large but well built, he looked like he could be a bouncer during the rest of the year. With the Vanguard Cadets out of Santa Clara, California, the theme was Heroes and Legends, and we got a beheading(!).

It was a fun night if you enjoy marching bands (minus the woodwinds.) If nothing else, the work that the kids put in should definitely be appreciated.

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