Marching Music’s Major League
Thousands of young musicians and performers tour the country every summer to the delight of tens of thousands of fans. Three of the top Drum and Bugle Corps in the world competed Saturday night in Chesapeake. Marching Music’s Major Leaguers.
The annual Tidewater Summer Music Games, in support of Western Branch High School’s band program, featured The Carolina Crown, The Cadets, and The Cavaliers. While they are called drum and bugle corps, the horns are no longer single valve bugles.
Cipriani: We actually – it’s become so specialized that the brass section is broken into four parts: you have the trumpets, you have the mellophone, you have the tuba and you have the baritone.
Gino Cipriani is the staff coordinator and brass section instructor or Caption Supervisor for the Cadets.
Cipriani: So we get specialists for each one of those sections, so we have a trumpet specialist, a mellophone specialist and so on, and they are in charge of their individual sections. So then we put all the parts together and it becomes the brass section, which I’m responsible for.
While the performance season runs from late June to early August, and just over 30 corps tour all over the country, work for Cipriani and his staff began just after last season ended.
Cipriani: Well, we start the audition process in December and we get members from all over not only the country but all over the world, and we start doodling it down to about 72 brass players, and then about 10 percent is a little bit of a revolving door when they find out that they can’t leave their lives for three months or perhaps not doing so well in school as they thought they did. By May we pretty have a pretty good understanding of our 72 members that make up the brass section.
Do you have a formula that you use to teach this music or do you let the music for that particular season dictate the way you are doing to teach?
Cipriani: An excellent question. I think it’s a little bit of both. There’s definitely a way that we go about it, I mean it’s a constant, here at the Cadets it’s just a constant pursuit of excellence. And that, pretty much, that motto right there, kinda gets you through the day. What’s the most that we can get out of the music and what’s the most that we can get out of each individual player. So that kind of dictates how we go about it. Obviously, we have different learning skills here.
Among the top ranked corps, Cipriani said, the quality of players is at a very high level.
Cipriani: I think like 75% of our membership here are music ed majors, music education members, so they come here for the experience so that they can take whatever they’ve learned here, all those skills, and they can apply it in their own program.
The same level of effort, concentration, and preparation is also true of each corps’ drum section, pit instruments, and color guard. And then there’s the job of putting the show on the road. The Cadets Assistant Corps Director Justin Heimbecker is the Tour Manager.
Heimbecker: As far as on the road with the cadets, there are six administrators. At any given time there are eight to twelve volunteer cooks who are parents, alumni, fans; ten to twelve volunteer drivers who drive RVs through the night and vans through the night and trucks and buses; as well as people to build things, fix things; and the instructional staff numbers between 25 and 40 depending on the time of the year.
In addition, he added:
Heimbecker: The Core actually has over 100 volunteers on the volunteer roster any given year. At any given time there are about two dozen on the road with us, spending one week or two weeks with us, cooking, driving, building and making sure that we get down the road.
The young performers in drum corps form life-long friendships within their own corps and among their competitors. When the Chicago Cavaliers’ food truck was destroyed in a fire, The Cadets and Crown food teams pitched in to feed the Cavaliers until a replacement truck arrived.
John Ogle, WCVE News.