By Rachel Goldstein ’13
Rocky traveled over 10,000 miles this past summer alongside Michael Myers ’16, a trumpet player with the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps. Based in Canton, Ohio, the Bluecoats consist of 150 members between the ages of 15 and 22. Their most current show, “To Look for America,” brought Rocky and Myers to more than 30 cities across the country to compete in Drum Corps International competitions and to perform for audiences totaling nearly 300,000. A drum and bugle corps consists of a color guard, percussion instruments, and a brass section. They play a variety of pieces meshed together and move into various formations. Each group has a set routine that is performed in front of judges. The Bluecoats placed 5th in this year’s Drum Corps International competition.
Founded in 1972 as the Canton Police Boys Club, the Bluecoats are now coed and recruits musicians from across the globe. Although many members are majoring in music, others like Myers have different plans. Myers studies mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester, while playing in the University’s pep band on the side. However, it was back in high school when Myers was first introduced to large-scale drum and bugle corps competitions and it was not until last fall that he decided to apply for a corps membership, beginning the extensive, year-long audition process that landed Myers in the 2013 drum and bugle corps.
The Bluecoats began their summer tour in Denison, Ohio where they spent one month rehearsing 12 to 14 hours a day to learn the show. Following this, musicians, staff, and volunteers traveled across the United States in a convoy consisting of three tour buses, a 53-foot equipment trailer, a 48-foot cafeteria trailer, and additional support vehicles. The procession carried Rocky to many well-known venues including Alamodome in San Antonio, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
“If you do this you love performing,” says Myers, who performed at least 30 times over a course of 60 days. “It’s a lot of physical work, a lot of cardio,” Myers admits, “and the show leaves you exhausted.” However, the hardest part, according to Myers, is the mental aspect of being part of a large performance group. “You can’t switch off–if you turn off you’re going to miss something and you can’t miss something,” Myers explains. “You get lunch and dinner for a mental break.”
A show, which may last from 10 to 15 minutes, involves a mash up of tunes from a variety of genres. The Bluecoats’ 2013 theme, “To Look for America,” included variations from America by Simon and Garfunkel, Spring from the “River” by Duke Ellington, the Ebony Concerto by Stravinsky, and Bryant’s concerto for wind ensemble, to name a few. The 150 members work for hours to become a cohesive group, capable of playing, performing, and moving as one body. Each person is an integral part of the show. “Everyone is family,” says Myers, “because you have to be able to trust every single person.”
Although the summer tour may have been his last experience in a drum and bugle corps, like most former members, Myers will remain part of that community. “A former Bluecoat is family,” Myers added, “whether they marched with you or not.”