Posted by: guinness222 | July 14, 2008

T-12:30:00 and counting

Part III

Well time to wrap it up.
For the next five or six years at least four nights and weekend days a week were committed to being a member of “the Corps” I continued to play and march until I reached the maximum age of 21. You talk about being a part of something and supporting and being supported this was the group. Parades, Competitions, Concerts we did them all plus at least one horn practice a week for three hours and one M&M practice for another three or four.
My little brothers and sisters wanted to get in, but my Corps had grown and did’nt have a “feeder” corps (sort of a minor league team designed to start younger kids and train them to eventually be brought up to the “A” team, to keep a flow of talent, and a spirit of competition going at all levels. )
Well, my parents got hooked on “Drum Corps” as well so they started helping out a local “town” Corps called the “Braves” who were a feeder Corps for an “A” Corps called “The Warriors”, next thing you know the entire family is involved, schedules were worse than a Suduko puzzle to figure out, becasue they had M&M practice, Horn Practice, Drum practice as well as Color Guard Practice (last vestige of male chauvanism “girls” were not allowed to play instruments unless they were in an all girl Drum & Bugle Corps.)
Well I hope you now understand the passion, even now 42 years after the last time I competed or blew a horn. I learned some great life lessons from those years, I would have encouraged my children to have gotten involved as well,….had the program survived as it was in the 50’s and 60’s.

It evolved out of the military training and back grounds of all the G.I.’s coming back after WWII. The musicians were the guys who taught the corps members how to play for ten or fifteen bucks a week, same thing on the drummers. The M&M instructors were former Sargents and Squad Leaders who knew Marching and Maneuvering and had a flair to see patterns and other things that could be done with marching musicians. The support staff was all parents who donated thier time and effort. They learned to manage the meager amounts we made from Parades (remember that was our only source of revenue, competitions were for the greater “glory and honor of the Corps” not money).
But like everything else in life the costs just escalated and every thing got out of sight pricewise, time became something no one could afford to give away. Parents began drifting away from supporting with their time, the old beat up truck finally bit the dust and the cost of a new one was far too much, so everything was loaded in the bussses with the Corps until it became too uncomfortable for everyone. The kids began to drift away as well. The committment to the Corps, your responsibility to the other 60 or 70 members to be there and play and march your heart out every time began to decay. More kids started missing practices, dropping out never to be heard from again, or moving up to become members of the “A-1” Top of the line Corps like “The Boston Crusaders”
Choreographers were brought in to increase the level of M&M, people with degrees in music were hired to teach music theory and arrange Masterpieces of musical genius for kids to play. The “fun” began to disappear, and in short it began to die as a widespread youth program.
As I said there were survivors, there have been changes, they have added other instruments like (sp) Glockenspeils, multi-valve horns, etc., they allowed “prancing and running” as opposed to having to do everything using a full march. Alas, there is no way even if I were eighteen today I could even hope to join a corps, for the kid who couldn’t march, the kid who couldn’t play,…well there is just no room anymore.
But those years were never to be forgotten, and when I saw an ad in the local paper a month ago announcing a Drum & Bugle Corps Competition, including my old favorites The Boston Crusaders,…well now you understand why I’m waiting with “eager anticipation” for the clock to tick to 7:30P.M. this evening, and come rain or shine the show will go on, and I’ve got umbrellas, slickers and poncho’s ready.
For you see when you are there and 45 to 50 horns, and sixteen to eighteen drums, and 70 or 80 people work together in a musical and visual program like watching the inner workings of a watch work together to tell time, ….. you too would be “blown away”. I know, Bands do the same thing, but they are moving orchestras, Drum & Bugle Corps are restricted in instrumentation so they get the absolute best out of every instrument, every moment, and everyperson out there. That’s why the hundreds of kids we will see on that field tonight have spent the entire summer traveling this country bringing the power and sound of Drum Corps to everyone,….and they don’t get paid. They donate thier time, and the Corps houses , feeds, and transports them. Again Committment,…that what it’s all about.

Unfortunately Viet Nam took a tremendous toll on Drum Corps, friends I played with for several years, guys I marched with, friends in the Corps I hung out with,well…….They didn’t come back, but I saw courage long before then in “The Corps” For every Bobby D., “Bird” and the others who did not come back, there was a “Rocky” a deaf mute, who learned to play snare drum by having one of his fellow drummers actually drum the parts on his back while he tried to play them on the drum,(and by God he always got them down pat every year, and marched and competed) and several of the kids with other handicaps that if it weren’t for “The Corps” would never have had any friends, and been able to be a “normal” kid,….just another Soprano, Snare, Tenor,….not the “kid with the limp” not the “geeky looking dude”. We had room for anyone who wanted to make the committment to ,…TheCorps!


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