Today's drum corps and Drum Corps International (DCI) are bigger than ever and expanding into new venues of performance. Every year I year I find myself waiting with anticipation for the DCI world championships to come out on television. In 2005 Drum Corps International raised the bar and managed to get ESPN to pick up the broadcast on a national level. Recently it was also announced that the drum corps sequel to the Broadway hit "Blast," titled Blast 2: Music In Extreme will be premiering in a five month Japanese tour (and presumably an eventual US tour next year). These public relations bonanzas and others like them have helped press the drum corps phenomenon closer to center stage.
As a marching band director you should jump on and ride this drum corps wave to help improve your own marching program this fall. There are many ways to accomplish this, the first being with the promotional DVD's that DCI makes available to band directors each year. For the past several years Drum Corps International has made available DVD copies of the World Championship Broadcast to marching band directors free of charge. I have used these DVD's both as a part of my band camp and also several times during the marching band season to help demonstrate fundamentals and to impress upon the students the level of commitment and dedication it requires to be a high class ensemble. Drum Corps International has also been very good at writing special vignettes into the productions to show what life is like for drum corps members as well as to show that being a musician can be every bit as fulfilling and exciting as being an athlete.
In my own marching band program I have seen significant benefits both from the use of these DVD's and also from the close proximity that my school has to our local drum corps, The Dubuque Colts . About four years ago I had four of my marching band members take the plunge and join the Colts. Since then other students have also joined either the Colts or their feeder organization the Colt Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps . When these students returned for band camp in the fall I immediately saw a spark and enthusiasm that spilled over to provide a positive influence to the rest of my local marching band. In some ways the students gained an almost celebrity status for being in the Colts. It was a very positive experience for me as well, with me learning many tips and tricks for teaching certain aspects of marching band simply by asking them how the corps did it, attending the Colts rehearsals, or helping out with the Colt Cadet's rehearsals during the summer.
I have used Drum Corps International to my band's advantage in other ways as well. Over the years my school has played host to such noted corps as the Madison Scouts and the Cavaliers as they passed through the area to our local Colt's sponsored Music On The March competitions. Many of my students showed up for the corps' afternoon rehearsals on the practice fields around our school. To get to see such intense and productive rehearsals up close with a world champion corps is a priceless opportunity that cannot be underestimated. If you live near a DCI performance venue this summer try to find a way to get involved and host a corps at your school.
Not every school is lucky enough to live next door to a major drum corps. Luckily there are still ways to benefit from this drum corps revival. Like I stated before, jump on and ride the wave. The benefits to your local marching band program could be priceless.