Introducing “Member’s Journal”
I’m happy to introduce another in our series of regular columns – this time, an in-depth look at the life and challenges of a marching member of a DCI Division 1 corps. Our very own DCP Staffmember, Michelle, is a member of Spirit of JSU and will be providing updates throughout the weeks and months – a journal of her experiences and perspective of what it takes to do this drum corps ‘thing’. Perhaps we can show those who aspire to march in a corps what it takes, what some of the rewards are, and the affect on one person’s life going-forward. Un-scripted and un-edited …. these are real-life drum corps stories. It should be interesting to follow. -jmd
Here’s Michelle’s introduction …….
“Who is this?” you may ask.
My name is Michelle and I’m 17 years old. I’m in my senior year of high school. I play the French horn primarily, but I grew fond of my mellophone which I play for marching band.
At one of my first band practices during freshman year someone was playing this loud brassy music in the hallway outside the band room. I discovered my drum major conducting this group called “Santa Clara Vanguard.” The music sounded similar to the Nutcracker Suite. Later on I would find out this was SCV 95. He talked about how he planned to audition for a group called “Magic” on baritone in November. He also noted Finals for this DCI activity would be held in Orlando (2003). I went home and told my mom about what I had learned at band practice, and she bought the tickets to see finals after doing some research on DCI.org.
In 2004 I once again attended the show in Orlando, except this was a two day event with all Division 1 drum corps. I had very close friend marching with Bluecoats, so I was looking forward to meeting up with him after the show on Saturday. At the time I did not know about the formalities of retreat. Well, my mom and I left before scores were announced to head towards the buses to find my friend. Somehow we ended up on the wrong side of the Citrus Bowl. We were next to the corps lined up for retreat. Being a spectator, this was definitely the wrong place to be. We walked past the Bluecoats, but I did not see my friend. We continued walking, but this time a security guy waved us down. By this time I thought we were in big trouble for an honest mistake.
“Would you like to go on the field?” asked the security guard.
Was he kidding? We were on the wrong side of stadium. Needless to say, we took him up on his offer. The corps were now playing “America O’Canada.” It was chilling. I decided at that moment that I would march no matter what it took next season because I wanted to get that feeling performing. On a side note, I did finally find my friend next to the Muskingum Buses after confusing him for an older euphonium player who looked exactly like him…
In December 2004 I first auditioned for BAC because I was of the mentality that top 12 drum corps were the only way to go (how naïve I was). I had just turned 16, and I did not have the talent and marching skills to make the corps. Likewise, I was not offered a position. I had learned a great deal and continued to pursue a drum corps to march at.
I got in contact with my old drum major who had recently graduated high school. He had been the drum major for Magic in 2004 and would be again that year. Our former guard captain and one current guard member was also going to be marching their third and second years at the corps respectively. I had found a group from my area to carpool to camps with from Ft. Myers. One other girl from my marching band ended up marching Magic last year as well.
Tour was one big shock from move in until August 14th. I had laughed, I had cried, and I had most certainly had my butt kicked! Unfortunately, Magic did not turn out to be the place to call home. I decided to look into the first corps I had a close connection to: the Bluecoats.
Deciding to march a corps outside of Florida was a hard endeavor. I had to get a job and tell my parents I’m paying for all my tour fees and plane tickets on my own, otherwise I would not be allowed to march. Despite some rough ends, I made it to the Bluecoats December Ohio camp. It was one of the best camps I had ever been too, and I also learned a lot from brass techniques to visual aids. I missed the cut by 5 points, but this time I accepted it much better than the previous year. I even walked away from that camp with a smile because I knew that I had reached for a goal. I will have no “what-ifs?” in 2006 because I took a shot with an organization about 1000 miles from home.
Almost wearingly, I emailed other drum corps asking if it was possible to still audition. I hated the fact that I could be considered a corps-hopper, but to prove this label wrong I put my heart and soul into wherever I march. It’s not about where you march; it’s the fact that you marched. I received a great response from Spirit and found the funds to attend the January camp.
After that camp I walked away with a contract to play lead mello. I found my home for 2006, and the camp was awesome as the Bluecoats one in its own way. Over the past few months I have been busting my buns to be able to march. Not it is getting closer and closer to move in. I am looking forward to an amazing summer wearing the baby blue. I have been discovering Spirit’s history and traditions. I only hope I can make the alumni proud playing “Georgia” with the amount of emotion it has been played with in the past.