On Facebook yesterday I learned that the drum And bugle corps I marched in (Minnesota Brass) will not be fielding a competitive corps this summer. Meaning they couldn’t get enough horn line members to join so they closed up shop for the summer season.
Possibly for good.
The corps has basically been around and marching for over 70 years– and now this. It’s really a sad day.
I mean, the corps has weathered hard times before, but starting in the early 2000’s it really turned around and became a force to be reckoned with; eventually becoming one of the two premier corps in the all-age activity. And a world champ in 2011. Also, in the 5 years I marched we took top brass 3 times.
And now they can’t get enough horn players interested to make a go of things.
It was never easy recruiting horn members for some reason. But lately it’s only gotten worse. I think it was a combination of a lot of things, namely:
- time commitment
- low difficulty of brass music
- physical demand
All of these factors come into play, but I think especially cost. It’s like 700 bucks to do this activity, and younger people just don’t have that discretionary income to blow on “marching band”.
And we older folks that do have some spare ducets around don’t fancy spending them on an activity where the music isn’t challenging, and the physical demand is brutal.
The shows are very physical and punishing to the body. Marching at 180 bpm, playing and controlling your breath, while consistently hitting a new form accurately about every 2-3 seconds is insanely hard work.
Then, of course there is the fact that drum corps basically consumes your entire summer, and you get almost no weekends to enjoy. Which is even harder to do in Minnesota where he have such limited summer weather.
I saw the writing on the wall in 2015 when the corps called me out of retirement to fill a hole at the end of their season. They couldn’t find horn players even then. And last year? Their horns were pathetically bad.
Like, embarrassingly so.
I don’t know how they can fix this. Im not sure they can fix it. Which may mean this is the end of a storied organization.
I definitely haz a sad.