Today was one of those days that become ever so rarer with age. I had a completely fresh experience. Sure, I had heard of Drum Corps International, through a few documentaries and a really terrible movie named Drumline, but I had never been to an event. This was true, despite the fact that I love marching band and the sounds of brass and drums. Well, today, I finally had the opportunity to go see what a DCI event was all about, and it was a blast.
Apparently, the DCI competitions are intense, and it looks that way to the outsider. However, I think the more important thing about this group and these competitions is the celebration of kids who are superb at their craft. I was downright impressed with the choreography some of the teams possessed, and the musical talent was universally assured. Something about the visual and audible combination of marching band makes it such a delight to watch when done with the high level of quality that these DCI teams possess.
Before the competition, some friends and I walked around the parking lot at the high school football stadium (I'll have an aside on this shortly.), and we gazed at the teams, their last-minute practices, and the growing number of onlookers. The kids played the drums with an effortlessness that I find enviable. The discipline they show is commendable, despite the countless hours repeating the same stanzas and rhythms in the insanely uncomfortable conditions of very hot sunshine and very warm uniforms.
The performances were exceedingly good, with the talent increasing as the competition progressed. The crowd appeared to really enjoy it, and I did as well. It's hard not to be moved by such musical and visual splendor. This will probably not be my last DCI event.
I spoke earlier of the high school stadium and parking lot. The DCI event was held in Denton, TX. One look at the stadium and parking lot, and my jaw dropped to the ground. They take the football quite seriously in the South. Granted, the school is larger, but my recollection of our high school stadium is one of a few rotting bleachers, a grass field, and dirt-and-gravel-filled parking lot (which often could pass for junkyards on Friday nights). Even the bigger schools in Nebraska could not compete with this place. Some colleges don't even compare. It was eye-opening.