Thousands of high-school and college-age students dedicated 85 days of their summer to perfecting and performing 12-minute competitive marching shows for audiences across the country.
This past summer, around 50 Aggies participated in Drum Corps International (DCI), a non-profit organization that oversees 45 junior drum and bugle corps and is known as Marching Music’s Major League.
The average season for a DCI drum corps is composed of camps and auditions in the winter to test marching fundamentals and start learning music that will be used in the show. Then comes spring training during the first part of summer to turn the music into a full production on a football field, followed by a tour in late summer.
Kinesiology junior Gracie Boudreau played mellophone for a drum corps called Blue Devils this year. On Aug. 10, the Blue Devils won the DCI World Class Championship for their show “Ghostlight,” based on the superstition surrounding the last stage light left shining in a theatre.
“Performing the encore run was insane because there was no competition whatsoever and it was completely for fun,” Boudreau said.
Boudreau performed with the Crossmen for two years before the Blue Devils. She said she first got involved with DCI because her high school band directors had DCI experience and took her band to DCI competitions.
“It’s really cool to be a part of something bigger than yourself and knowing that wherever you go or whatever you do, you’re going to have 153 best friends right there with you,” Boudreau said. “[I’ve learned] the value of hard work. That’s really translated into my college life because I realize the more time I put into something, the better results I’ll get.”
Boudreau said she burned about 6,000 calories every day during the summer by marching and walking six to seven miles while working on the show.
“To an outside person, they probably think we’re crazy because they see these people without shirts on getting really sweaty, sleeping in gyms on cots,” Boudreau said. “We pay to do this. It’s the final result and the memories and the relationships that are so worth it.”
Business sophomore Aiden Powell has played baritone for the Crossmen for the past two years. Powell said he got involved because some of his friends from high school had performed with DCI before.
“[Auditioning] was nerve-wracking,” Powell said. “I didn’t really know what I was getting into. It’s pretty taxing.”
Powell said the most difficult thing about being on tour was not being able to visit home for three months.
“I learned that things are going to be hard, but maybe if you don’t necessarily want to do something, you have to a lot of the time,” Powell said. “Maybe you’re tired, but you can’t just go to sleep. It has made me a more patient person.”
Engineering sophomore Trent Scott played baritone for the Madison Scouts this year and first heard about DCI when he saw the Blue Stars rehearse at his middle school one summer. Scott said he chose to audition for the Madison Scouts because of their culture of tradition and because he was inspired by one of their previous shows.
“I had doubts that I would be able to march this year, but whenever I heard the news [that I was contracted], I was beyond excited,” Scott said. “Going from being a spectator in the stands to being on the field marching, it was a lot to take in. It was a fantastic experience that I’ll never forget.”
Scott said he plans on continuing to play with DCI until he turns 21 — when members “age out” and cannot participate anymore.
“Above all else, while it’s a competitive activity, in the end it’s for the fans,” Scott said. “I feel like that’s something anyone can get behind.”