So I figure with 39,000+ AR members, there have got to be some drum and bugle corps fans out there! If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to check it out. In the words of coach Bobby Knight ...
"If a basketball team trained as hard as these kids do, it would be unbelievable!"
- Coach Bobby Knight after watching a corps rehearsal
In a nutshell, Drum Corps International (DCI), is divided into 4 groups. Divisions I, II, III and International (outside of North America). Every corps within these four divisions are made up of both male and female marching members between the ages of 13 and 22 except for two corps. The Madison Scouts (from Madison, WI), and The Cavaliers (Rosemont, IL). The only all-male drum corps in DCI.
Each corps consists of a brass only hornline (soprano, alto, baritone/euphonium and contra bass), a drumline (the "battery", snare, tenor and bass drums), a front ensemble (the "pit" with keyboard instruments and misc. percussion) and a colorguard (flags, rifles, sabres, dancers). They perform an 11 minute show and compete on football fields making their way across the country ending up at the finals location.
Division I, being the larger of the four, can have up to 135 members in each corps. D-II corps can have between 71 and 135 members and D-III corps between 30 and 79 members. International corps can compete under their own country's organizational guidelines but to carry the title of DCI Gold, Silver or Bronze medalist, they have to follow DCI rules. For example, some international corps have members over the age of 22. However, it doesn't end there! There are also Drum Corps Associates or "All Age" drum corps but for now we'll stick with the Junior circuit.
The season usually starts in the fall with auditions, but varies from corps to corps. After the members have been set, the weekend camps begin. When school lets out for summer, the members start to "move in" with their respective corps. At this point, the rehearsals really start to intensify with "everydays". These rehearsals can go from 9am to 9pm (sometimes earlier or later) with water, lunch and dinner breaks. The competitive season usually starts in June and goes until the middle of August, ending with Finals Week.
DCI is currently celebrating it's 35th anniversary however, drum and bugle corps have been around for a long time. In fact, modern drum corps can trace it's roots back to the end of WWI.
This year, for the first time in DCI's history, Finals Week will be held on the West coast in Pasadena, CA!
- D-I quarterfinals will be on AUG 9th, semifinals, (consisting of the the top 17 corps from quarters) is on the 10th and finals (the top 12 from semis) will be on the 11th at The Rose Bowl.
- D-II/III quarterfinals will be on August 7th, semis on the 10th and finals on the 11th at Pasadena City College
There will also be an Individual & Ensemble competition on AUG 8th at the Pasadena Convention Center. Which features members from many of the competing corps from all divisions on their respective instruments.
If you can't make it to Pasadena, you can watch quarterfinals live on AUG 9th at your local movie theater! Click here to see if it's playing at a theater near you. Highlights of finals will also be broadcast on ESPN2 later on in SEP. Check your local listings.
So far this year, Blue Devils (Concord, CA), The Cadets (Allentown, PA), and The Cavaliers are leading the pack for D-I followed closely by Phantom Regiment (Rockford, IL), Santa Clara Vanguard (Santa Clara, CA), Carolina Crown (Ft. Mill, SC), and Bluecoats (Canton, OH) in one of the closest seasons to date.
There are plenty of shows left so check with the DCI schedule page to see if there is something happening near you and to see lists of all corps competing this year. You can also check out Corpsreps.com or Drum Corps Planet for more information.