Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

    Student profile: what it's like spending summer in the drum corps

    Most students spend their summers going on vacation to new places, pursuing internships or working at easy jobs. But for a select few across the country, the perfect summer day is twelve hours, burning to a crisp in the hot sun, playing music and marching on football fields.

    Alexander Chung, a sophomore Music Education major, has been a part of drum corps for the past two summers playing the mellophone and marching physically demanding drills as a member of the Madison Scouts and Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps in the Drum Corps International. Chung remembers the long days.

    “Your body is definitely not used to waking up and just getting your butt kicked every day,” Chung said. “Going twelve hour days, getting minimal sleep– it’s getting your body adjusted to the early mornings and the late nights. Just the constant sleep schedule change, and just going everywhere. Performing, practicing is just really tiring.”

    At the beginning of every season, each drum corps holds spring training or “move-ins,” where you start living with all the other members of the corps for about a month or so. There, you meet your band-mates and work tirelessly to learn the marching show that your corps has designed that year.

    Chung said that spring training was definitely the hardest part of drum corps. This regimen involves fifteen hour days where you wake up, get breakfast and then go immediately to a four-hour block of practice outside. This is followed by lunch, another four-hour block, dinner, and then a final four-hour block before heading back to bed and repeating the entire process the next day.

    But before you can join, there is a lengthy audition process. Each corps holds tryout camps throughout the offseason, where players from around the country– sometimes even the world– come together to audition.

    “There’s about a camp every month, starting in, I think, November all the way through May,” says Chung.

    Kids all across the country work for months to be prepared for these audition camps, and even some members of the Million Dollar Band missed a few football games this year to attend their audition camps.

    At these camps, there are three things that can happen.

    “I went to one of the camps in December both times, and from then they either contract you- giving you a contract that says you will be marching with them that summer,” said Chung. “Or they give you a callback so you can re-audition at another camp, or they cut you, where you are just done.”

    Part of being in the corps is having personal experiences and meeting all kinds of new people.

    “You definitely build a lot of good relationships and it’s a lot of fun memories. Just with rehearsal and also just spending time with people,” says Chung. “In those three months, you definitely get to know them a lot. They become your family.”

    At the end of every drum corps season, the Drum Corps International World Championships are held in Indianapolis, IN at Lucas Oil Stadium. This is where the top drum corps from around the country come together to compete against one another.

    “Everyone in the stadium just yelling, cheering for you. You know everyone’s rooting for you and just wanting you to do your best,” Chung remembers. “And just hearing that, all the emotions rush through and [you] just put it all out there on the field. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

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