Marching Drum Corp: Behind the Scenes

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Lights. Camera. Action! To many new drum corp fans, this is the only aspect of Drum Corp they see. In this post, we’ll venture into the forgotten, arduous rehearsals and late nights to see how our favorite shows come to life. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

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Let’s take a look at the audition process to get into a top corp. First, new members have to attend what’s called an audition camp, given that they are in the age range 16-21, which is the mandatory age limit. These audition camps are weekend long camps usually located at high schools across the country, including right here at Carrollton High School. These camps at first are where members can go for a day and get feed back from the corp’s staff for their auditions. Camps then turn into weekend camps once a month at the location of the corp’s headquarters. These camps will be filled with a measly 300-400 participants out of the thousands that first began their journey. After these camps, members will receive one of 3 things: A contract, a callback, or you are cut.

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Congrats! You’ve been accepted into your dream corp! Now it’s time to sell your soul to the devil. This journey across the country with your new family can cost up to $4,000, while also giving up your entire summer, with the regular season starting in May and ending in August. When you come to accept these final steps, you are officially ready to start your drum corp journey. The first thing to look forward to: Dawn to dusk practices, every day, for weeks on end until tour time.

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The rehearsals for these top corps are grueling. Essentials include gallon water jugs for each member, including a river of sunscreen. On top of the heat, exhaustion can set into unprepared members, with rehearsals lasting between 10-14 hours, with the only breaks being meals and 5 minute water breaks. Only a single day in a week or two is allowed to be an off day. You might be asking yourself “why on earth would any one want to do such a thing to themselves?”. Any corp alumni can tell you that through all of the blood, sweat, and tears, the experiences and relationships built during the season are life changing. Corp members also get to preform in front of audiences consisting of tens of thousands of eager fans, with hundreds of thousands streaming the performances.

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You’ve made it through the first weeks of the ridiculously demanding practices to finally be on the road. Instead of straight weeks of all day rehearsals, you now mix in shows and events around the country. At these shows, you will have to complete your final practice before taking the field. These warm ups, which are commonly referred to as “lots”, are the hidden gems of drum corp. Fans are allowed to be up close and personal with the corps as they warm up, with many corps playing corp songs as a tradition. Here is a list of examples for your enjoyment!

This concludes our behind the scenes look at drum corps. I hope you enjoyed as always! For an even closer look at corp members rockin’ it out on the field, click here for a head cam video of lead trumpet and trumpet soloist for the Bluecoats, Ben Gunnarson.


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