Creativity in High Gear

Mike Lawson • Percussion • April 7, 2017

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It all begins with a single idea – sometimes concrete, sometimes not so concrete. Ideas begin to take form when the show designers put their concepts to music, add visual elements, color, props, and innovations.

Although design teams throughout Drum Corps International began working on new show concepts early last fall, their creativity is just now beginning to take shape as the productions that will entertain and amaze audiences across the United States this coming summer.

Exactly what will those marching music creations be about? The sky’s the limit.

It Starts with the Training

Since November, DCI corps members have been traveling to audition and then to get together for weekend rehearsal camps to get to know their staff members, improve fundamental visual and musical techniques, and start to the learn elements of their shows. It’s an exciting time for everyone as they coalesce as a performance unit and define their goals for the summer.

Every corps engages a slightly different process during the winter and spring months, but the results are the same – a completely new show with a unique ensemble cast.

Weekend Events

Weekend camps generally begin on Friday evenings, which gives corps members time to travel to the rehearsal site from their high schools and colleges all over the country. Activities that night run late and usually involve reviewing details from the last camp, working on fundamentals, and introducing new concepts for the weekend.

Saturdays typically start early in the morning with stretching, calisthenics, and breaking down new material with staff members. The remainder of the day goes more in depth with marching and movement, along with brass, percussion and color guard sectionals, and sub-sectionals within each of those groups. At various times, the corps comes together to rehearse music and color guard routines with the full ensemble and to experiment with possible show elements.

And then there’s the ever-popular physical training (PT). While some members may already be in peak condition, most benefit from stepping up the exercise game in preparation for the physical demands of the season. This is the time when “Body by Drum Corps” starts to emerge – from the “before” aspect anyway.

Regardless of the exact breakdown of the schedule, corps members build chemistry for the group – renewing old friendships and forging relationships with new members. The personal interaction is one of the most important aspects of the camps as individuals become a cohesive group.

As part of the Sunday itinerary, corps often include a “show and tell” presentation for local parents, alumni, and fans to give them a glimpse of the magic that is developing. Then it’s back to real life, but with assignments for PT, music, and visual exercises to strengthen individual skills before the next camp.

The Goal

The hard work of each rehearsal weekend brings the corps one step closer to that first show. One step closer to giving life to creativity. One step closer to the summer tour.

And just when DCI fans think it just can’t get any better – it always does.

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