Posted 01 May 2012 - 01:05 PM
The marching band/drum corps debate will never be solved. I know in the past there were bands that were modeled after drum corps and competed in the same circuits as drum corps, at least here in Boston. I was a member of one, and we always made sure we never used the word "marching" as an adjective to describe our activity, even though we marched. The average band was as good as the average drum corps, but the best of the bands never topped the best drum corps, the best drum corps in our area being being BAC, St. Kevin's, St. Mary's Cardinals and later 27th, North Star, BAC again, and Defenders. The bands were pretty much gone when Diplomats/East Coast Jazz came on the scene. The bands were actually the preferred recruiting ground for the better drum corps. Even as late as the 1970's, some drum corps did not teach kids to read music, only to play the instrument. The kids in the bands, whether woodwind, brass, or percussion, were taught the rudiments and could be retrained for drum corps. There are also some that claim the bands had better marchers since the bands had individual counts and the moderately good drum corps marched in groups, but I know I'll get clobbered, especially if it's inaccurate, so I'll just say it's hearsay.
Today high school music programs feed into drum corps. Without feeder units, there is no other alternative. So the health of bands does have an impact on drum corps. That being said, private organizations do not seem to have better luck starting bands that are independent of schools and more than private organizations can start new drum corps. Perhaps musical programs are too closely associated with schools or school music programs, which are far better than in the past, are fulfilling the musical needs of the kids involved. Due to the close association with schools, I don't think we'll see bands compete in the summer or tour as drum corps do, but I'm not sure we could ever garner an audience either. There is something intangible and unique about a drum corps that's hard to describe that in my opinion a band cannot capture, even though as we all know, to many a parade watcher, there's no difference between the Casper Troopers and the Casper High School Marching Band.