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  #1  
Old 11-27-2011, 11:55 PM
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Coldhardsteel Coldhardsteel is offline
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Default Drum Corps Dilemma

Ah, I love alliteration.

Over the past few months I've been facing a bit of trouble revolving around DCI and myself. First I broke my arm, then getting my license got in the way, and my SAT's almost got in the way too, but I stopped that promptly. Now, my arm is healed up, and my SAT's are moved out of the way. So, now I have a choice to make:

Drumline, or drumset?

Originally, I was interested in trying out for the tenor line in Jersey Surf, but then a friend of mine who played a season in the front ensemble for Raiders (an open class corp from Jersey as well) encouraged me to switch. With that switch came the opening of an option. The drum set player there was a snare drummer that got cut the first day of the first camp, and my friend encouraged me to try out for the part. So, now I'm stuck between tenors and the set part. I've always loved playing tenors, but I love drum set just as much, and this decision is a career-affecting decision as well.

If I chose to try to get into the line, and ended up on tenors, then I'd be able to continue that and maybe end up somewhere else, like Carolina Crown. I could do the same with drum set, but I wonder if choosing the set part would be a good credential to have under my belt. My end goal is to be a professional set player, and I can't tell which part would be better to play to help with achieving that goal.

Maybe Bo would be able to help with this, seeing as he marched BD at one point or another. Which does DW think I should choose? Any advice?
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2011, 12:15 AM
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Bo Eder Bo Eder is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

I may propogate an unpopular idea, though.

But to set the record straight, no I did not march with BD. I marched with somebody else, but that was so long ago....

My attitude on the whole drum corps thing has changed. What is your ultimate goal? To be a working musician? To play in a rock band? To play jazz? Take it on to college? Unless you see yourself making a long-term career out of being involved with DCI, I'd leave it altogether. Even if you said you wanted to be a drum-set player, playing music with a drum corps is not indicative of what you'd be doing in college, let alone real life. It's all about head-space: drum corps does not teach you to groove, it teaches you how to follow. The amount of chops you're required to display there then does not make you a good candidate for a concert band or symphony orchestra. Drum corps, like show choir, is really its own entity. There may be some people who have done it and managed to breakaway from it to make other kinds of music, but the odds are against you. There aren't many people who leave it totally behind, and even those who've taken it really far and considered professionals, are seriously lacking if say, you really want to be the next Steve Jordan or Jojo Mayer.

So the question for you is where do you want to end up? If your dream is to be the next Dennis Delucia or somebody of that ilk, stay where you are. You can go in to drum corps education and be happy. If you really want to be a rock star or somebody playing contemporary music in a different setting, then you should talk to guys who have done that and do what they did.

Really, I'm not down on drum corps, I think it's a great activity and you can learn an awful lot. It amazes me what the kids do every year. It gives you a sense of identity and goals to work towards. You just have to make sure that that's what you want. If it isn't, then find out what is. Life's too short.

I temper this in my current gig: there are four drumset players working with guys who are a drumline. We all play drumset - but the snare drummers understand that they don't get hired to play drumset, they get hired to play a snare drum. Where do you want to be?
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Old 11-28-2011, 12:37 AM
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DrumEatDrum DrumEatDrum is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

Having never been in any kind of drum line, I'd say do it.

If you have the skills, do it. Performing in front of people beats sititng in a garage with your band hoping for a gig, or playing the 8pm on a Tuesday night slot to the bartender, the door guy, and the random person who walked in.

I get what Bo is saying here:
Quote:
playing music with a drum corps is not indicative of what you'd be doing in college, let alone real life. It's all about head-space: drum corps does not teach you to groove, it teaches you how to follow. The amount of chops you're required to display there then does not make you a good candidate for a concert band or symphony orchestra. Drum corps, like show choir, is really its own entity. There may be some people who have done it and managed to breakaway from it to make other kinds of music, but the odds are against you. There aren't many people who leave it totally behind, and even those who've taken it really far and considered professionals,
And, ok, technically true, but we say the same thing about all most music school programs, and just about everything else. There is no one path that leads to a music career. You can drop out of a drum line, go to Berklee or M.I. or whatever, and none of the means you're more on your way to a music career than doing something else.

Outside of that, you can always quit a drum line and go play a drum set. But getting back into a drumline when you've been out of it is (as far as I know) is extremely difficult.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:11 AM
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

I agree with Bo to an extent. It's a really specialized type of playing that really doesn't lend itself to other areas. I saw a show this past summer and caught one of the corps in the top 5. The pit was good but honestly lacked the musicallity you'd see in a percussion ensemble program in college.

If you seriously want to make a career in the music business don't just learn one instrument like say the drum set. Get serious, learn to play all areas timpani, mallets, drumset, snare drum, and world percussion.

As far as college not really preparing you for a music career that is total nonsense. The kids from Eastman, Juilliard, Manhattan, Cleveland Institute, New England Conservatory, Indiana and the like are taking up the real paying jobs with paychecks in the music/percussion industry.

My son lost a teacher this summer because he took a full time job as a drumset player. The opening was listed as drumset player. He's the newest member of the President's Own Marine Band. He's finishing his doctorate and his audition was composed of playing drumset and an equal amount onf 2 and 4 mallet audition material. He will be a drumset/mallet player full time.

Good luck with your decision!
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  #5  
Old 11-28-2011, 02:24 AM
jakester jakester is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

i would do drum set that way you dont have to march and think your the only member of the band that gets to sit down during a show
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  #6  
Old 11-28-2011, 03:09 AM
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Pocket-full-of-gold Pocket-full-of-gold is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

Coming from a country that doesn't do the drum corp thing, the novelty is really appealing. Part of me would love to give it a go as I reckon find it interesting trying to learn all the various sticking patterns etc and then get them down so that they are as tight as can be. I have little doubt it provides some excellent hand training.

However, those dinky uniforms and all that marching about is a definite deal breaker. As clever as I find much of the choreography, I could think of nothing worse than being dressed to the nines in gaudy Napoleonic military attire and humping my drums around a paddock. Do many of you drum corp guys find that a burden or is it outweighed by the actual playing (which does sound very cool)?
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  #7  
Old 11-28-2011, 05:25 AM
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
Coming from a country that doesn't do the drum corp thing, the novelty is really appealing. Part of me would love to give it a go as I reckon find it interesting trying to learn all the various sticking patterns etc and then get them down so that they are as tight as can be. I have little doubt it provides some excellent hand training.

However, those dinky uniforms and all that marching about is a definite deal breaker. As clever as I find much of the choreography, I could think of nothing worse than being dressed to the nines in gaudy Napoleonic military attire and humping my drums around a paddock. Do many of you drum corp guys find that a burden or is it outweighed by the actual playing (which does sound very cool)?
Being my age (mid-40s), I've managed to stay somewhat connected to my drum corps bretheren (my wife is a colorguard rifler too), and here's the thing on the humping of drums: they can't do it now. Almost all of my corps friends have suffered some kind of back injury (even the members of the colorguard have suffered hand and arm injuries) and either can't wear them again, or if they can, not for very long. When I was a kid I tried out for the tympani line back in the early '80s and had no problem wearing a 23" marching tympano. Fast forward to 2007 when I was in a retro corps attempting to field marching tympani again and I couldn't do it - my chiropractor asked me what the heck was I doing to myself one weekend to have to come back so soon. He gave me the bad news that I can't do it again, ever. I'm glad I took his advice and sidelined myself.

These days what the kids do is literally dancing, and running around on a football field with a 20-30-pound weight hanging off of you. I'm impressed. Maybe now since most corps have athletic trainers and doctors with them, those kids will really be strong and healthy when they hit their 40s too.

As for what I stated to our OP: I'm with DED. You can really do whatever you want. There's no guarantee you'll get anywhere with any educational direction you decide to take. Just make up your own mind and make your own decision. Life is short, but you can try different things and see which way you'd like to go. It's really all up to you how you want to proceed. So what is it that you really want?
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  #8  
Old 12-01-2011, 05:23 AM
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mattsmith mattsmith is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldhardsteel View Post
Ah, I love alliteration.

Over the past few months I've been facing a bit of trouble revolving around DCI and myself. First I broke my arm, then getting my license got in the way, and my SAT's almost got in the way too, but I stopped that promptly. Now, my arm is healed up, and my SAT's are moved out of the way. So, now I have a choice to make:

Drumline, or drumset?

Originally, I was interested in trying out for the tenor line in Jersey Surf, but then a friend of mine who played a season in the front ensemble for Raiders (an open class corp from Jersey as well) encouraged me to switch. With that switch came the opening of an option. The drum set player there was a snare drummer that got cut the first day of the first camp, and my friend encouraged me to try out for the part. So, now I'm stuck between tenors and the set part. I've always loved playing tenors, but I love drum set just as much, and this decision is a career-affecting decision as well.

If I chose to try to get into the line, and ended up on tenors, then I'd be able to continue that and maybe end up somewhere else, like Carolina Crown. I could do the same with drum set, but I wonder if choosing the set part would be a good credential to have under my belt. My end goal is to be a professional set player, and I can't tell which part would be better to play to help with achieving that goal.

Maybe Bo would be able to help with this, seeing as he marched BD at one point or another. Which does DW think I should choose? Any advice?
I don't think when we get older that anyone is going to remember what we played in corps. All they're going to want to know is what corps we were in... and when? I also think there is a misunderstanding here with some. CHS (I think) is talking about playing drumset in the corps, not an either/or proposition. Front ensemble is what we in the south call the pit. Am I right? There you find mallet players and sometimes a drumset. CHS, is this what you're talking about?

I'm curious though how you think this leads to the Crown. I know first hand that Crown prefers drummers from the Carolinas, although people from other places do get in there. I think it's just tougher that's all. So, with that being the case I would definitely play set in the Raiders and let future chips fall where they may.

Regarding the larger conversation...I was involved in a similar thought proccess when I was 16. Because of my technique I was actively recruited by several top 12 corps, but I just couldn't feel the marching vibe. I marched 3 years in high school for solid award winning marching bands but didn't really like THAT. I couldn't imagine the drilling that would go down with a top 12 corps. Then with Carolina it was never an issue with me because I didn't think they were drum centric like the Blue Devils anyway. But being a person from Carolina, you're of course intrigued.

I talked to my old man about this stuff and he listed the pros and cons very matter of factly.

Pros

1. If you plan to be a US school band director, who will most likely be involved with some marching band at some point...it's a plus and will help you get a better first job in US music education.

2. You can make decent side money in the summer running the line for people's band camps.

3. You keep your chops WAY up and there is a lot of networking in the field of music education.

Cons

1. As a diverse musician it stereotypes you big time...and yes people really do believe that's all you can do. This also seems to be the case with anything in drumming involving high technical skill.

2. I can count on one hand the number of top 12 corps center snares who have what is required to play a good drumset gig. I know DCI guys claim that corps doesn't hamper versatility, but I have yet to see that. You hardly ever see DCI guys playing any kind of gig. And no...Travis and others didn't march corps. They marched a season or two of high school marching band...big difference. The people who wrote those press releases didn't know the difference.

3. The subculture itself...To me when considering the DCI experience I found this to be put off #1. Not all...but many corps members and their fans have this extremely bloated opinion of what they're doing...bordering almost on religion. The lion's share of these people really do believe that when they age out at 22, that they've retired from the big time world of musical performance. In fact many put down their instruments after corps and never play again...sincerely believing they've reached the pinnacle. They then take this concept to their own band programs. I once had a director who was just like this. He would take his students to DCI comp after DCI comp, listening to the winning corps playing an expanded Gordon Goodwin big band chart, but wouldn't take them to hear the actual Gordon Goodwin band play the actual chart, because he thought the DCI corps was playing an enhanced perfected version. And of course to me, that was just crazy. I will never forget as long as I live meeting some Blue Devil guys who were praising their note for note copy of the Don Ellis band drum solos as superior to the spontaneously improvised originals. I started to laugh and they rolled their eyes at me like I didn't get it.

After that I experienced corps from a distance.
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Last edited by mattsmith; 12-01-2011 at 06:44 AM. Reason: clarify something.
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  #9  
Old 12-01-2011, 04:17 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

Get into the battery if you can. Playing in a line you learn things you can't learn any other way. Playing drumset you may as well be doing a longish run in musical theater- it's not bad, it's just not the same level of intensity as the other thing.
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  #10  
Old 12-01-2011, 05:37 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
My attitude on the whole drum corps thing has changed. What is your ultimate goal? To be a working musician? To play in a rock band? To play jazz? Take it on to college? Unless you see yourself making a long-term career out of being involved with DCI, I'd leave it altogether. Even if you said you wanted to be a drum-set player, playing music with a drum corps is not indicative of what you'd be doing in college, let alone real life. It's all about head-space: drum corps does not teach you to groove, it teaches you how to follow.
That's way over-simplified and not accurate.

Quote:
The amount of chops you're required to display there then does not make you a good candidate for a concert band or symphony orchestra. Drum corps, like show choir, is really its own entity. There may be some people who have done it and managed to breakaway from it to make other kinds of music, but the odds are against you.
It's a summer youth activity, not a monorail to the grave via a career in marching. I did corps, and I'm a jazz drummer; one of the most serious corps guys I know just plays African music now, and a bunch of others became classical percussionists and rock drummers.

Quote:
So the question for you is where do you want to end up? If your dream is to be the next Dennis Delucia or somebody of that ilk, stay where you are. You can go in to drum corps education and be happy. If you really want to be a rock star or somebody playing contemporary music in a different setting, then you should talk to guys who have done that and do what they did.

You just have to make sure that that's what you want. If it isn't, then find out what is. Life's too short.
It is and it isn't. If there isn't time in life to dedicate any time at all to something slightly peripheral to fulfilling your career dreams, then I want out. Anyway, he's like 19- how is he even supposed to know what he wants before he does anything?
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  #11  
Old 12-05-2011, 08:35 PM
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Pat Petrillo Pat Petrillo is offline
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Default Re: Drum Corps Dilemma

Having done drum corps on a pretty high level for years, as well as since I was a kid, it's something you will benefit from, and might I add, I AM working with the Jersey Surf this year with Matt Savage, and its a GROOVE show, so, you would dig it...Still auditioning drumset players as well for the pit :)

Good Luck
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