Opinion: Take a chance on a lesser-known activity

Shelby Niehaus, Columnist

Earlier this week, The Daily Eastern News reported on The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, which recently moved in at Eastern for part of their spring training.

When that article ran, I got the chance to have my first-ever contributing byline in a news article. I gleefully wrote up a few paragraphs about drum corps and its governing body after fact-checking the original article. Certainly, I annoyed the summer editorial staff with my zeal, but I have no apologies in this situation.

I love drum corps. For the last seven summers, I spent all my time getting sunburned on football fields across America, perfecting shows that meant much, much more to the performers than they ever could to the audience. Now, as a 22-year-old, I am too old to do the activity in the same fashion, and I have been spending the summer living vicariously through my best friend’s Snapchats and the Drum Corps International (DCI) Facebook feed.

Unlike many other drum corps members, I was never introduced to the activity before I became part of it. My first live drum corps show was one that I marched in. I went into my rookie season scared and alone, not knowing what kind of a summer I was in for.

Even so, it was shockingly easy to fall in love with drum corps. It is a display of so many elements of entertainment and self-discipline. From the inside, it is an experience comparable to nothing else. From the outside, it is a unique and vivid way of looking at music, dance and athleticism.

I must stress how dedicated and tenacious drum corps members are. The previous News article did not exaggerate when it reported 10-hour rehearsal days in all weather. I remember full days of rehearsal dedicated to a single portion of a single movement of a show. There were times that we spent upwards of two hours carefully, painstakingly learning a 16-count dance, which had to be performance-perfect for the next day’s show.

One of the best ways to appreciate this tenacity is to go out and watch a rehearsal yourself. If you loved marching bands as a child, if you were awed by some high school’s parade performance, if you marched in your own band or if you just love music and want to see it come to life, I highly recommend it.

Additionally, if you are the athletic sort and you always find yourself on the lookout for new and exciting uses of the human body’s physical capabilities, stop by a Cavaliers practice and watch.

If you have children, bring them to an evening rehearsal to see their final run-through of the night. They will certainly enjoy the spectacle.

If you have never watched a performing group rehearse before, you might not know what time you should stop by to watch. Your attendance at rehearsals is very much based on your personal interests, and there is something for everyone.

If you enjoy dance and motion most, you might try to catch a color guard rehearsal or a visual rehearsal.

To hear more uninterrupted music, look for the pit percussion (comprised of instruments such as marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, drum sets, keyboards and timpani) or try to catch a brass warmup block. Battery percussion (all percussion affixed to a performer’s body instead of stationary) is another great choice; drumline “lot” performances are popular for a very good reason.

If you want to see the whole picture, stop by in the evening to see a final performance of the day’s work. Most groups end their days by performing the entire show with the full ensemble. Even in the early season, and even without uniforms on, a full run-through is a spectacular treat to watch.

Not everyone gets a chance to watch a drum corps rehearse and perform. Please take advantage of The Cavaliers’ time in Charleston, and help make them feel welcome by watching and appreciating their hard work.

Shelby Niehaus is a senior English language arts major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].