Because all experiences are valuable.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Drum Corps International

This Saturday, July 31st was the DCI Southeastern Championship at the Georgia Dome.  It was an all day event, and well worth the time and investment. Most entertainment I've gotten on the dollar in a while, and of course, the kids from the FCHS Flash of Crimson Band are so hilarious, interesting, and full of life to say the least.

 This wasn't a competition for them, they are just starting to learn their show drill tomorrow, but how inspiring for all the groups of high school musicians that we saw at the Ga. Dome to be able to see these professional class shows right before starting their own fall marching seasons. I saw my first DCI show about fifteen years ago, and the skill level has only grown since then.

These kids are mostly college students, some just out of high school, some even still in high school, but the average age is 19.5. I read in the program that about a third are women. Several of the Corps are all male by long tradition. These incredibly talented "kids" perform 115 shows in the course of summer 2010.
Can you believe that? Atlanta was their 90th show date. They travel across the entire U.S., sleeping on school floors, practicing hours a day, unpaid, in fact, it costs around two thousand dollars to participate. Most raise the money or work for it all year.
Why do they do this? Because they are the most dedicated musicians anywhere. The experience is unmatched, both in musicianship gained and personal memories. The program said roughly 44% are new each year. It is grueling and expensive, so one can see why many who might like to perform each summer just can't commit the time or raise the funds.

It is pretty shocking what is being done to music education programs in the United States. I could blizzard you with facts and figures that prove, not imply, prove, that music education programs produce higher test scores across the board in all subjects, but especially in math. These kids are far less likely to get into trouble, to skip school, etc etc. Teachers know that band students are usually the best students, the most well-rounded and "delightful" that they have.

Seriously, you gotta love these kids.
These to the left are TJ and Connor. TJ plays snare drum, Connor plays drumset. I just love these guys.

Meanwhile, back at the rant, I didn't believe they could make the American education system much worse overall, but every year the government keeps managing. I heard they were going to repeal the mind-raping debacle that is No Child Left Behind. I pray that is true. I taught high school one year, 17 years ago. Yuma High School, Yuma, Arizona.

My mom taught 27 years at FCHS and other schools, my Dad over 20 years at the Citadel and other various colleges, my sister, Brynda, four years at South Forsyth Jr.High, and my sister Leigha, I think four years at Life Chiropractic college. Interestingly, we were all in the band one way or another. Most Americans just don't care how damn dumb we as a nation are becoming. They just don't, and I don't think you could convince me otherwise. If you tried, I'd wonder what segment of the population you fall into. How we can keep cutting art and music programs is beyond me. Why even science teachers can't get enough supplies...it makes me cringe. But no one is going without a football helmet. I'll just save my breath. I'm just so thrilled, so proud that there are still programs like DCI, and a lot of great college band and orchestra programs, too, still left out there. My boys attended University of Arkansas Summer Music Camp a combined six years I think. It was a real gift to be able to send them there.

Please support musical education whenever and wherever you can. Look at the above picture of the Blue Devils. Such imagination and artistry. It's everything still good about our country. Check this one out:

At the end, before awards, all the Drum Corps (which is percussion, brass, and color guard) stand together and play one song together. (oh, all the tickets are sold on one side of the field.) It was Glory, Glory Hallelujah this time. I wish you could have heard it.

Maybe sometime you will. But I can guarantee you these kids will be the ones we want taking care of us and running our country someday.

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