My First year in Drum Corps

A friend of a friend, actually he was a guy I went to school with all through elementary and junior high school with and knew quite well, wanted me to join a drum corps. What? I really had no idea what he was talking about. I had never ever heard the words drum corps before. He tried fruitlessly to explain what he was talking about. Finally he said two words that made perfect sense. Good and loud. My high school band was very small and not very good. When he said, these guys are really good and play really loud, I was in.

The first rehearsal I go to bent my mind. As I said I had never heard of drum corps so I had no idea about instrument names. And this was back in the day when we really used bugles. I go to the quartermaster and he asks me what I play. I had been playing tuba the past couple of years, but only because my band didn’t have a tuba player. I had played trumpet for 5 years before that. I tell the guy I am a trumpet player. He tells me all the sops are checked out. What? WTF is a sop, I say to myself. He asks me to pick another horn. I tell him I play tuba too. All the contras are checked out, he says. WTF is a contra, I am thinking. Finally he just hands me a case. I open it up and the strangest, largest, most beautiful instrument lays before my eyes. What’s this, I ask. He tells me to go inside and they will tell me. (Turns out my instrument for the next 5 years was going to be a King Euphonium Bugle)

Turns out me and another guy from my school completed the 60 man horn line for the corps. (Back in the day, the limit was 120 for drum corps) It was extremely impressive for a kid coming from a small crappy band. Everyone was very good and it was really loud (If you never got to experience hearing drum corps with actual bugles, I am sorry because that was the s***.) My section leader was an animal I just remember all of us playing really loud, doing push-ups when I ticked, doing push-ups when other people ticked, and doing push-ups because someone said do push-ups.

Lots of stuff happened between my first rehearsal and my first tour but I will leave that for another blog. 😀

On my first NorCal tour it was when that meant at least a week on the road as there were shows almost every day of the week. DCI has us staying in an armory in Pittsburgh, CA (Yeah, up until then I didn’t know that place existed) The armory has no field, but down the street is a high school with a stadium. Being kids and it being a different era the staff has us, them, all the equipment, moms, and all the kitchen stuff go over the locked fence. It seemed legit. We needed to practice and there was this stadium sitting all empty. 😀

At the time it seemed perfectly okay. I was a kid. I climbed fences. Passing the horns and drums over the fence was no big. Pit equipment was a bit of a challenge, timpani’s and keyboards in particular (this was before amplification) We had one instructor that went around 3 and a half bills, He was a challenge. We passed moms and the kitchen/food stuff over because we were there all day.

Good times.

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