Monthly Archives: November 2014

My Favorite Drum Corps Shows of All Time

Sorry to stray from my original topic again… but I liked posting a different style blog post last time, so here goes. This week, I will be sharing some of my favorite drum corps shows ever. Hopefully you’ll have time to watch them because they are pretty freaking awesome. Also, I hope this blog post, either directly through your viewing of the shows I post, or indirectly by following the YouTube thread to other drum corps shows, inspires you to find some of your favorite shows. Finally, I think it is important to remember where drum corps has come from in the past, rather than just explore what took place this past year.

The Cadets 2011 World Championship Production, “Between Angels and Demons,” is tied with the Bluecoats 2014 Production, “Tilt,” for my favorite drum corps show of all time. This show takes Dan Brown’s book, “Angels and Demons,” and brings it to life. The general effect of this show is through the roof. The uniforms, the music, the drill, all of it tells the story of the struggle between good and evil beautifully. The drumline (my favorite part) is incredible during this show, the color guard is fantastic, and the hornline is outstanding. Enough of my raving, here’s a multicam view of their encore performance at finals.

Fun Fact: The tall snare drummer in maroon who is the first one shown in the video went to Penn State and marched in the Blue Band. There is also another snare drummer, as well as a bass drummer who were in the Blue Band. Representing Penn State pretty well, I’d say!

The Cadets 1989 Production, “Les Miserables”

This show does a wonderful job of telling the story of Jean Valjean. With incredible energy, amazing musicianship, and nearly perfect visuals, this show has it all. This show was ahead of its time, meaning it contained effects that were on the cutting edge of the activity. The best example is in the closer, not seen in the video, where the corps splits in two, and plays two completely different songs at two completely different tempos, showing the vast divide between the diplomats and the poor during the French Revolution. This show is also incredibly sentimental to me because my mom marched in this show. There are no full videos of the show online, but here is a clip of the opener.


Madison Scout’s 2013 Production, “Corps of Brothers, 75 Years of Survival.”

This show is amazing because it shows just how emotional drum corps can be. This show tells the story of soldiers going off to war and the turmoil they face in battle. Many cool effects are used in this show to mimic warfare. One example is the snare drums playing in a way that resembles machine gun fire. The color guard is the most important part of this show, as they depict the soldiers at war, making the show real and approachable. If you only have time to watch one show (and don’t mind possibly crying) I recommend you watch this show.

Google Madison Scouts 2013 and click on the Daily Motion link for the full show.

These are just three of the hundreds of amazing shows that are out there for your viewing pleasure, and there are hundreds more that haven’t even been thought of yet. If these three aren’t enough to satisfy your drum corps hunger, Carolina Crown’s 2012 and 2013 shows are phenomenal, and so is Phantom Regiment’s 2008 show.

I hope you enjoy my favorite drum corps shows as much as I do!

TED Talk Reflection

Overall, I think my TED Talk went pretty well. I made consistent eye contact with my audience, spoke with good pace, volume, and conviction, and did not use excessive hand gestures that took away from my overall performance. I also think that my talk flowed very nicely from one idea to the next, and seemed to have the common characteristics of a TED talk: some humor, anecdotes, and primary examples that helped drive home the single overarching theme of the talk. For the most part, I spoke continuously and in an uninhibited fashion, and showed my point rather clearly.

However, where there is good, there is also bad. I did not start off my talk very strongly. In the second or third sentence, I lose my train of thought, and pause for too long before continuing. Also, I experienced the removal of some sort of throat demon toward the beginning of my talk, but thankfully overcame it with the help of my wonderful audience. Also, I swayed while talking, which was probably distracting. In the future, I hope to either remain more stationary, or use my motion to add to my talk. I also think I followed too closely to the talk I physically wrote and tried to memorize. The talk was two pages long, which is a lot to memorize, but I did it, and found that, while it helped me know exactly what I would be discussing next, it made it very hard to get back on track if I switched a word or said a phrase incorrectly. In the future, I will follow a more bulleted outline, and allow my speech to “flow out of me.”

Something that surprised me was how slow the talk felt. As you can see in the video, I glance over at the timer occasionally. I did this because in my head, I was nearing the end of my material, and when I glanced over at the clock and saw that only two and a half minutes had gone by, I panicked. Thankfully, my talk took longer than my nervous brain anticipated, and I fit within the time frame. Another thing that surprised me was the fact that I appear to be looking down during the entire talk, when I am simply making eye contact with the audience. Overall, my talk went as planned, and I am proud of how I performed.

Paradigm Shift Paper to TED Talk

My paradigm shift paper focuses on the shift that has occurred in stand-up comedy over the past few decades. It analyzes specials by Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, and Louis CK. In the paper, I analyze the specials in three categories: Content, Delivery, and Audience Reaction. Later, the paper delves into the scientific remedies laughter provides, and explains why comedy is incredibly important in today’s society.

However, for my TED Talk, I plan on focusing more on the present day and why comedy is an integral part of society’s healing process. Therefore, I will be focusing primarily on the work of Louis CK and what his comedy shows us about society and how it is working to make people feel better about the world as a whole. To highlight CK’s work, I will be adding more excerpts of his special than are present in my paper, either through my own speech or through the use of multimedia. I will then quickly explain how these jokes remedy society’s woes, and explain why comedy is so important.

Because of this focus on Louis CK, I will only briefly mention the work of Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy. I will use them as examples of how comedy shifted from just telling jokes to telling jokes that made people feel better and end some of the awful aspects of society.

Also, I will be focusing mainly on the content of the jokes, slightly on the audience reaction, and very little on the delivery. By doing this, it will eliminate the name from the jokes, and help show how all comedians in this day in age, not just Louis CK, use their jokes to make people feel better.

I think these additions, omissions, and highlights will help me transform my paradigm shift paper, which is focused on the comedy itself, into a TED Talk that shows the importance of comedy in today’s world.

My Drum Corps History

This week, I have decided to write the post that I probably should have started the year with: How did I become involved in this odd activity called Drum Corps?

Drum Corps has become somewhat of a tradition in my family. My mom (1988 and 1989, Hornline), aunt (1988, Color Guard), dad (1986 and 1987, Battery), and uncle (1985 – 1991, Battery) all marched Cadets. My mom and dad met through drum corps in 1988 and continued on to a group in DCA, the Reading Buccaneers, in the 1990’s. My mom served as the Drum Major for the corps during these years, and my dad performed in and later taught and wrote for the battery. *T.M.I. Alert* I am what you might call a drum corps baby because I was conceived the night of DCA Finals in 1995. So, drum corps is in my blood. My family still loves and participates in drum corps, and we regularly attend drum corps competitions.

I began playing in the percussion section of concert band in fifth grade, and as the winter of my sophomore year of high school approached, I decided I wanted to try this drum corps thing. So, I, along with my mom and sister, went to the Reading Buccaneers and auditioned. My mom was the Drum Major, my sister auditioned for trumpet, and I auditioned for the Front Ensemble. Sure enough, we all made the sections we auditioned for, my step father took the role of photographer for the corps, and drum corps became a family ordeal. A little fun fact – performers have to pay to perform with a drum corps, but because there were three of us performing, we got the family discount!

The summer of 2012 was when I fell in love with this activity and began reaping the endless benefits of spending my weekends in the sun, and playing music with some of my best friends in the world. Our show that year was entitled, “The Black Symphony,” and we were fortunate enough to be crowned World Champions with a record-breaking score of 99.03. Fun Fact #2: In all of the years of my mom participating in drum corps, this was the first year she was part of a corps that was crowned World Champion, so it was incredibly special for her to take home her first trophy with her son and daughter also performing.

Here’s what it looks like to be a member of the Front Ensemble. (*Warning* Sixteen year old shirtless me is in most of this video. Proceed with caution.)

Mom, K, and Me 2012 Finals


The three of us “keeping our cool” after receiving our championship medals in 2012.

But, one year and one championship were not enough. In the winter of 2012, all three of us went back to the Buccaneers. My mom remained the Drum Major, my sister auditioned again for trumpet, but I decided to change things up and audition for snare drum. We were again all incredibly fortunate to make the sections we auditioned for. 2013’s production was entitled, “Higher, Faster, Stronger.” Again, we were fortunate enough to be crowned World Champions, with a score of 98.43. Fun Fact #3: Drum Corps is an incredibly emotional activity. You find a second family in your section, and in my case, become even closer with your actual family throughout the summer.

Here’s an up close video of the snare line marching the 2013 show. Hopefully this video gives you an idea of the physical challenge drum corps presents to performers. I’m the tall one starting on the 40 yard line.


K and Me 2013 Finals

My sister and I doing a little huggin’ and cryin’ after coming off of the field after our Finals performance. Keep in mind, we do not know we have won yet.

Drum corps has taught me so many incredibly valuable life lessons – too many to list here – but here are a few that I carry with me every day:

–     Work harder than you ever thought possible. Your body and mind may scream at you to stop, but do not give up. Push past the pain, and come out on the other side stronger.

–     Love those around you, and do not be afraid to rely on them for help and support. They are going through the same thing you are, so they will know how to pick you up when you are down.

–     Cherish the thrill of working with others toward perfection. No matter what happens, remember people make mistakes, and frustration will happen, but never forget that everyone is working just as hard, if not harder, than you are, so respect them and their work. What you can do together is truly astounding.