One activity I look back on with nostalgia and remembered excitement. One activity I look back on with passion, longing, and tears.
I think it’s the difference between a high-school crush and a lifetime soulmate. They’re both desirable. They’re both positive experiences. And, until you experience the latter, the former seems to be the most amazing experience possible.
In High School band, we had a tradition. As we stood at attention, ready to dismiss, our band director would call out the various facets of our posture that we should remember. He would call, “feet!” We would answer, together! “Back!” Straight! “Shoulders!” Up! Back! Down! And the final call was, “Eyes!” Louder than any reply, we would shout, With Pride! It meant the beginning of an era, of a legend: our band hadn’t been worth anything two years before, and now we were winning competitions and making State Finals. We had pride in what we had become, and what future generations of Buckeye Bands would accomplish by building on our meager 30-member foundation.
I recall that being the most powerful experience in “oneness” with an ensemble… up until that point. In the Northern Aurora Drum and Bugle Corps, we had another tradition, one that transcended “Eyes With Pride” for me. At every corps dismissal, be it at camps, circled up after a show, or following rehearsal, the drum major or corps manager would call us up: “Corps — Ten-Hut!” We would snap to attention, horns snapping to shoulder-level, flags snapping straight, drumsticks snapping into position. The drum major would then call into the silence: “Corps! Dismissed!” and we would answer, “One!”
During every winter camp at NA, when potential new members would be attending, the corps manager would explain that this word referred not to a placement or a ranking, but a feeling of unity with our corpsmates. I refused to join in the response until the camp when I was officially signed as a member of Northern Aurora. At the dismissal of that camp, I answered the call as one member of a team, of a family. It was just as powerful then as it was through the two years I marched in NA, all the way through until our last dismissal at Division III Finals in Orlando, Florida in 1996.
My point? I don’t know. I cherish my time spent both in marching band and in drumcorps. But what still brings me passion, what stirs the fire, what makes me long to relive each and every moment, is drumcorps.