Standing in front of screaming crowd, blinded by the lights of Lucas Oil stadium, being cooled by the air in the dome that contrasted with the early August heat, the only thing that was in my mind was, “it’s already over.”
The Sacramento Mandarins drum & bugle corps, which is now heading into its 50th anniversary, is a world-class independent youth organization, which is a part of Drum Corps International, the governing body for the competitions that take place between the different groups across the country every summer. Each of these groups goes on tour across the country to attend these events. I learned of the activity through my high school band director. Being a drummer, I thought it would be fun to drum my head during the summer.
Little did I know how much of a challenge it was going to turn out to be, with getting cut from several groups for the past three years. It doesn’t exactly help when 50 other kids your age with just as much, if not more, talent than you are trying out for the same instrument and there are only eight spots. After getting cut again, I decided that enough was enough and that I was going to march this season with the front ensemble or the pit.
As the months passed and camps came and went, I learned more and more about the beast that was the pit. The only percussion I played before this was drum line, as well as concert percussion, which is what the pit is most akin to. Through this time, I myself went through growing pains like now tomorrow, having to learn to deal with people you hardly know, as well as learning a new instrument at the highest level of competition.
Repeatedly, I was broken down and rebuilt, but I persevered. When the summer rolled by and tour actually started, I was definitely a much different person than the silly kid fresh out of high school I was six months before. I was much more confident, and all the training I went through definitely made me a better performer as well. Though I feel the most important skill I developed over the summer is trust. Spending a summer with the same group of people constantly made me learn so much about myself and about others, and as a result, I have made friends and memories that will last my entire life.