Drumcorps: A Sport


It is the popular belief that marching band IS NOT a sport, and even as an avid marcher, I agree with this statement. Despite the countless hours spent rehearsing and learning the show, its rigor does not match that of a physical sport. Almost anyone you talk to will know what a marching band is, however little knowledge of the next level. Drum and Bugle Corps, or Drumcorps, can be best described as a more professional marching band with only brass, percussion, and color guard. It’s level of competition, commitment, and skill skyrocket that of a marching band. It’s a hidden world that more should be aware of. 

The first drum corps, The Naval Academy Drum and Bugle Corps,  was founded in 1914. Throughout the early 1900s, other drum corps outside of the military started to pop up. Within a few decades, there were thousands of corps around the country. As the activity grew more competitive, corps began touring and competing against corps in other states. While this was great to see, it killed the corps that could not afford the cost of transportation, housing, food, and equipment. In 1971, Drumcorps International, or DCI, was founded. DCI was the NFL of drumcorp. To this day it is the highest level one can choose to march.

Enough history, what ACTUALLY is drum corp? The best way to describe it is a professional marching band. Shortly after a season ends in September, the music directors of a corp will write and theme a show for the next season. They will create the on-field formations, music, uniforms, and props for the show. Soon after, they begin the audition process for those who want to march. Auditionees will pay a fee for each open house camp, and receive music to learn. After around one weekend camp per month until April, the members will be set and the process of learning the show will begin. 

During May and early June, a corp will learn their show and start competing in late June-August or September depending on which organization you march. For DCI, members are brought to spring training, usually at a college. There, they will rehearse every day, all day, for multiple weeks. Every day is filled with hours of difficult music and marching in the heat of the sun. Once the competitive season starts, they will be bussed around America to play shows against other corps. For DCI, a marcher will be gone for the whole summer until late August. 

While this seems all well and good, little think about the high cost of marching a season. Some of the best crops will cost over $5,000 for one season. As inflation increases, the cost is ever growing and the corps can not meet their expenses. There is also a serious lack of publicity and awareness of this amazing sport. It’s an experience that no course or class could ever match. Any passionate musician should consider marching drum corps. It is an unmatched experience that will teach lessons to help you not only in music but in life.