SPOTLIGHT: 40 years of drum corps

It hit me with a bit of, “Oh, no… it cannot be forty years…”

Yes, Darin.  It’s been 40 years since you attended your first drum corps show in August 1977.  My band director, Paula Simmons, and her Ball State University college roommate, Pam Smith-Wishmeyer, invited me to attend the drum corps show in Lafayette, Indiana.

That first sound…

I can still remember the chills that invaded my soul.

I can still remember the hair standing up on my arms, and the back of my neck.

I can still remember the seeming spin of my brain as the music swelled.

I can remember falling in love with music on a much, much deeper level.

I’ve never gone a summer without seeing a drum-corps (now, more familiarly known by the organizational name, DCI/Drum-Corps International) since 1977.

I’ve had former students march with various corps through the years, most recently, Marlyn Strickland with Madison Scouts (now band director at Coy Middle School), and John Newcomb with Legends (now a music performance student at University of Dayton).  I love seeing my kids on the field!

Much has changed in style, concept, and performance, but the heart is still solid: music, and friendship.

One of my favorite moments is watching the incoming front-line percussion members standing over to the side of the track in their pre-show huddle, arms draping across one another’s backs, having “their moment” as the current corps finishes up on the field.  As you walk through the parking lots filled with buses, equipment semis, corps food trucks, members warming up or getting dressed, family and friends greeting members, and seeing members from different corps greeting one another, there is just always that sense of people-love.

This was a neat time tonight because one of my student’s parents bought a ticket for him next to me; he is an 8th grader; I was an 8th grader 40 years ago when I attended my first drum corps show. This was Ian’s first drum corps show.

And, I got to see the best field commander I believe I’ve ever seen: Gabe Gallegos of The Troopers from Casper, Wyoming.  Congratulations,  Papa and Mama – Bryan and Paula!

I’ve really been a lucky guy to experience this arena of music for forty years!



About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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