The Last Chapter

Posted August 11, 2018 by Paula Monique

This morning I woke up and spent a few minutes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram as I usually do. But today is different. I was reminded of the immense amount of energy and emotion that surrounds the drum corps community on the last day of the season. For most, today is just another Saturday filled with running errands, cleaning to do, and maybe even penciling in a little relaxation time. For drum corps performers, staff, and fans, however, it’s the biggest game day of the year. We wake up with a buzz of excitement and maybe even a little nervousness for what the day will bring, but at the same time, we’re ready — we’ve been dreaming about this day all year.

Today is our Super Bowl. Today is DCI finals.

For the performers, the entire day is a whirlwind, from the moment you wake up until you hang up your uniform for the last time this season. For the age-outs, it will be the last time for everything, and it’s hard not to think about that as you go through your daily routine. I look back and remember just how special this day was for me. The morning was always emotional, waking up in the gym and seeing all of your friends, knowing it was the last time this exact group would all be together. We would get ready for the day and go through our finals morning traditions, but once rehearsal started, we were back to the grind. There was still work to be done and just like any other rehearsal, we were striving for perfection on every rep. The beauty of drum corps is that you keep pushing till the very end, no matter what.

For those of you that are able to be on the field tonight, please don’t take your finals performance for granted. There are many performers wishing to be in your place. I’d like to take a moment to recognize those corps which did not make it into finals. They spent their summers learning, growing, and working incredibly hard, just like the finalist groups, which they’ll be cheering on from the stands. I hope all of those members enjoyed their prelims/semi-finals runs and had a great season. Once their last show is done and the dust settles after retreat, members are hit with the reality that the season is over. It’s hard to say goodbye to something that you’ve put your all into for roughly 90 days, but it’s definitely time. 

(Photo by Payton Abner)

I’m going to share some powerful words from the Blue Knights Drum Major, Daniel Belcher.

“We often refer to the rest of the year as “real life,” but the longer I do this, the more drum corps feels like my real life. My greatest friends, best memories, strongest capabilities, and finest moments are all from my time in this activity. Drum corps for me is not at all some kind of escape, but rather a corner of the world where I truly thrive... and a look into what the world can be. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in existence to have had this opportunity and experience for three years... and I’m not done yet.”

My biggest take away from this season is that this activity isn’t just alive, it’s thriving! Yes, it’s different than it was 30, 20, even 5 years ago, but shouldn’t it be? Drum corps has always been changing and evolving…if it didn’t, I’m not sure this activity would still be around, or at least not to the magnitude it is now. The level of quality coming from these corps is inspiring to watch, and it’s only going to grow from here. Step away from rankings and scores - be a fan for a moment and you’ll see hundreds of young rockstars out there, striving for excellence and living their dreams. The uniform shouldn’t matter. All that really matters is that the performers are doing what they love, at a very high level. They’re out there inspiring young people to work hard and follow in their footsteps. There is some great education going on over the summer and kids are not only learning new information but learning how to teach it! Designers are free to explore different avenues and take risks. Nothing is considered “impossible.”

I have an immense amount of respect for the drum corps activity as a whole. We wouldn’t be where we are now if not for the past and we must honor the past by making sure the activity continues on for many years to come!