Wow. What a topic. There is so much to say... where to begin?
My sophomore year I got roped into my high schools' indoor drumline by this cute girl I had crush on and thought that if I joined, I could get her to like me. I had no real prior musical education in anything and had never touched a pair of drumsticks in my life. I remember the first time she asked me to join, I looked at her like she was crazy and had no idea what a drumline even was.
I think it's safe to say that there wasn't really anything special about me when I graduated high school in 2005. I wasn't going to an Ivy League school. I wasn't striving to be a doctor or a lawyer. I had no girlfriend, no job, no real aspirations for the future. In those 3 years I spent in high school drumline I learned a lot, but would never have described myself at being even remotely close to a good musician. I sat at home towards the end of that first summer after high school saying goodbye to my high school friends, watching each of them leave for their own endeavors in different places and institutions one by one. I was stuck at home, still living with my parents and barely taking a full class load at a crappy community college. By my own definition I was a loser.
When that same girl I joined drumline for in high school told me to come with her to audition for a drum corPs (yes I pronounced the P) I politely laughed and told her that she was crazy and that I was nowhere near skilled enough to even be considered for an organization as distinguished and profound as the Crossmen. (I am from the Philadelphia area and Crossmen held this incredible aura over everything I knew about drum corPs) Alas though, in another pathetic attempt to get this girl I was still crazy about, I followed her to an audition and after 3 incredibly stressful camps of just waiting to be cut... it never happened. I was never cut. (ironically, she was, hah)
I understand I'm ranting now but I swear I'm getting to my point. So, 2 summers of drum corPs later I have come to this conclusion. That first summer of corps, I came home from Madison a completely changed, brand new person. I returned from tour a new man. The summer had completely and utterly changed everything I was and everything I believed in and stood for. It changed how I acted, how I dressed, how I thought, how I worked, how I played, how I treated others and how I treated myself. I had an incredibly renewed passion for improving myself and others around me. On the plane ride home from Madison I decided that music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I transferred schools, changed my major, moved out of my parents house and finally worked up the courage to tell this girl I had loved for years (the same one from high school) how I felt. I know this all sounds incredibly cheesy, but that summer ultimately took the loser I was and made me somebody. It gave me something to be proud of. It gave me something special.
Before I left for my new school in August of '06, my mentor and very dear friend told me how proud of me he was for what he watched me accomplish over the summer, even though I know he didn't understand the activity at all. Two months later he was diagnosed with late stage leukemia. He flew across the country against doctors orders to see me perform in the Rose Bowl this summer. He passed away in September 2007.
Now that it's nearing 3:30 AM on Christmas Eve (Christmas Day now I suppose), and I'm nearing the end of my story, I can say that the 2 (soon to be 3) summers of drum corps I have been priviledged enough to experience have given me so much that no amount of trying to describe it to you could even come close to what it has meant to me. I am 2 semesters away from graduating with a music degree and am planning on proposing, to that same high school sweet heart who got me first to play drums, on New Years Eve. The performances, rehearsals, laughs, tears, sprained ankles, sore backs, smelly buses and sweltering heat has taught me about so much more than beating a drum and marching a set. It's given me strength, confidence, passion, and above all, an appreciation for everything and everyone around me that makes what I love to do possible. I miss my friend very dearly, and I know that my performance Saturday night on Lucas Oil Field will be for him, for my family, and for every person who has ever supported what I love to do.
I know this was incredibly long. If you made it all the way through, kudos. Thanks for reading. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas.