Drum corps these days seems to have transformed into an activity in which music is not the main focus, or so its critics would say. Those who participate naturally argue for the musical validity of drum corps, while most musicians from the indoor world struggle to see any reason to play while “running around”, as some may say. And we are not even mentioning the idea of doing this out in the elements, every day for the entire summer. Taking all of this into account, I am composing this article in hopes of inspiring other music education majors to participate in drum corps by giving them as many reasons as I can muster to do so.
In my collegiate education I have been constantly bombarded with many musical and educational proverbs, but one that seems to stand out to me at this moment is the stigma of “teaching how you were taught”. At the dawn of my teaching career, I am also seeing how teaching from experience is the most effective means of teaching, and should, in my opinion, be the only means of teaching. By participating in drum corps you expand your “experience pool” from which you teach. Thus you are able to teach your own marching band more effectively.
Yes, there are musical reasons to participate in drum corps! As much as your level of musicianship may or may not increase by marching depending on the staff you are working with, drum corps will still demand the highest level of accountability for your own part. Even in the warm-ups, each entrance, release, lip slur, long tone, etc. is pushed to be as close to perfection as possible. In another sense, a music education major would be able to see and be a part of effective rehearsal and practice techniques. Members of any drum corps become good friends with the metronome. By marching, you learn firsthand how to utilize the metronome and to moderate its usage in order to practice for performance. Furthermore, you see how to resolve timing issues due to field placement or musical demand. Temperature also affects how drum corps tune their hornlines. By being a part of this and getting the experience, music education majors will be more prepared for teaching students in their own program.
In this day and age the activity of drum corps and marching bands has transformed from being strictly about marching into being about the creation of a style of movement and unifying it across the “visual ensemble”. We must also note that marching is no longer the only part of a wind or percussion member’s visual repertoire. As time progresses each performer is asked to do more and more, to the point where hornlines and drumlines in drum corps are being given dance training to incorporate into their shows. How does experience in this benefit a music education major? As usual, the advancements made at the top of the marching arts have trickled down into the high school marching bands. A competing high school marching band will soon (if not already) be unable to be a contender if the students are not displaying this type of “visual repertoire” and at a decent level of clarity. Drum corps in this sense provides the music education major with somewhat of a “textbook” to teach from, allowing them to define a style of marching, clean that style, and incorporate dance movements into their wind and percussion students’ performance.
Topics coming in Part 2/2:
- Teaching Methods (out of the textbook, onto the field)
- Drill Design (you may not write it, but you have to teach it)
- Networking (never hurts, always helps)
- Miscellaneous (the best category of all!)
- Music Education… Is this truly for me?
- MENC’s Music Education Week
- Welcome From Music Ed Week!
- Comic-Dissection of a Music Ed Major
- Hire Me! Tips for Finding Your First Music Teaching Job After Graduation