Sharing a Similar Passion in Music

The week before my freshman year of high school, I went to school every day for 8 hours to participate in band camp, the annual kickoff to the marching band season. Having been an enthusiastic clarinetist since fourth grade, I was eager and excited to enter high school and discover new opportunities. And excited I was! On the first day of band camp, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there didn’t seem to be anyone in band who didn’t want to be there In earlier years, especially elementary school, where fine arts was a requirement, plenty of my classmates were unenthusiastic musicians who brought down the group morale and generally annoyed me. To top it off (and compensate, i suppose), we would play very simple and easy music that was nothing like the classical music I listened to or wanted to play. In marching band, I could hardly believe that everyone around me shared a similar passion for music and embraced challenge rather than shying away from it.

Marching band was an activity I committed myself to for four years, but I am more grateful for the opportunities it created for me. On the second day of band camp, our band director showed everyone a show performed in 2008 by Phantom Regiment, a drum and bugle corps based in Rockford, IL, Drum and bugle corps, or drum corps, were independent musical marching ensembles comprised of age 17»21 percussionists, colorguard members, and brass musicians that held auditions in December, monthly rehearsal camps through the spring, and an intensive two-and-a-half month rehearsal and performance competitive tour throughout the country from May to August, culminating in the Drum Corps International World Championships held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

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The shows were nine to eleven-minute field shows that incorporated complex choreography, storyline, and music to create a grand final product on a football field Upon seeing the DCI Finals video of “Spartacus”, Phantom’s 2008 show, I was awe-struck. Not only were the formations and sequences created by the marchers visually impressive, I gaped at what appeared to be some thirty thousand people in the towering stands of Lucas Oil Stadium, all in a joint thunderous ovation. As soon as i saw the video, I knew that I was meant to do this activity and I pledged to be in such a video as soon as I could As Drum Corps Intetnational’s tagline proclaimed, it truly was “marching music‘s major league,” Through the course of the year, I proactively sought the help of veteran musicians in my high school, some who had even marched with local drum corps, to teach me the basics of brass instrument playing.

After experimenting with the mellophone, the marching version of the French horn, and the baritone born, I settled on the baritone, a heavier and more daunting instrument to switch to but a more manly one, a criterion which certainly mattered to me at the time! My band director was wonderfully supportive, and under the tutelage of fellow brass musicians in marching band, I accustomed quickly and learnt fast during my sophomore marching band season as a new baritone player. During the awards banquet following our final competition, I was bestowed with a Rookie of the Year award. Never losing sight of my goal, I dedicated hours daily to practicing the audition étude for the Santa Clara Vanguard, a drum and bugle corps in Santa Clara, CA. Even though I was fifteen, I knew the age guidelines were flexible and could be accommodating for proficient musicians.

In December when I finally auditioned, I was rejected on the grounds of being very young and inexperienced as a brass player, I was also given helpful feedback regarding my brass musicianship and technique, which I took happily and practiced with equal fervor to audition again for the Vanguard three weeks later in Pasadena, where they were hosting a final round of open auditions, After convincing my dad to drive the seven hours there and back, I completed my audition, and while the brass instructor was duly impressed with my dedication and noted my improvement, I was again rejected, Undaunted, ljoined the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets, the younger counterpart of the Santa Clara Vanguard that competed in a lower circuit known as Open Class within the Drum Corps International circuitt Throughout the season, I absorbed as much information as I could and improved tremendously as a musician through the course of over a thousand hours of rehearsal with twelve-hour rehearsals seven days a week in the summer.

When our corps’s show The Art of War took first place at Open Class championships, I was happy, but even more ecstatic to perform an exhibition at DCI World Class Finals, the revered event at Lucas Oil Stadium which attracted an Olympic size crowd. A week after our victory, I lived out my dream, and upon playing the last note of our show, knowing it would be the last time that show would ever be performed, I looked up at the teeming crowds in deafening cheer and was struck with a mix of great happiness and sadness: elated to have performed in the highest league of marching music but sad that thejourney had come to an end.

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Sharing a Similar Passion in Music. (2023, May 12). Retrieved from