Drum Corps Members Say Success Means Teamwork

About 70 drum corps will crisscrossing the country this summer. That means the high school and college students that make up the corps will spend countless hours rehearsing, performing, and traveling. One of the nation's prestigious corps was in Jackson County practicing on Monday. David Clark of Long Beach says being in drum corps helps teach young people about more than just music. The staff also gives them lessons on life.

"They're very very good not only teaching us what we need to know but they get along with us on a personal level as well," said Clark. "They are able to get things across to us where we understand it."

The Spirit of Jacksonville Drum Corps runs on a tight schedule. The 130 members usually get up early after a night on a gymnasium floor, spend 12 hours rehearsing in the heat, perform that night and hit the road again. With constant choreography and music changes, the staff says getting everything done can be stressful and exhausting. Fortunately, they don't have to do it alone.

Director Ken Bodiford said "We couldn't make it without our support staff. All of our parents and our alumni, they come cook for the kids on a daily basis. They take care of our sewing needs if a uniform rips or tears or needs some alterations made. They drive vans at night so we can sleep and teach all day."

Volunteers working behind the scenes help serve 800 meals a day. They say they can see the musicians evolve over the summer into mature young adults. Members of the drum corps say without efforts of staff and volunteers there wouldn't be much Spirit in the drum corps.

Long Beach resident Alexis Villarreal said "It's all about family. It's all about tradition. I don't see how people can march anywhere else because if it's not like this, I don't think I would want to be there."

Tusday, July 24, at War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula you can get a first hand look at several drum corps in action. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information call 669-1002 or visit www.GCMusicGames.org

by Danielle Thomas