As the winter cold keeps us indoors (and the days get way too short), we have been reflecting on warmer weather and the fun in the sun that we had this past summer. From June to August, I marched in DCI’s Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets, an open-class drum and bugle corps based in Northern California. Fellow brother Melissa Tayon also marched drum corps, but with a world-class corps a little closer to Gamma and Seattle: Cascades.
We both had amazing experiences marching with our respective corps, but we learned a few lessons we felt helped make us better brothers along the way.
First of all, drum corps melds an intense musical experience with high physical demand that requires tons of practice in the pursuit of perfection. It’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to not be completely invested in every moment of every day (until you get to pass out for a few hours at night and get up and do it again) and completely immerse yourself in the experience. In fact, we often have to be reminded that we aren’t in a bubble and that there is a real world around us that isn’t drum corps. And, as in the real world, it is really one thing to participate in an activity and a completely different experience to pour your time and your heart into an activity or service project or the building of a brotherhood.
Secondly, drum corps teaches you how to bond deeply with the people around you. Of course there are people that you will be closer to than others (people closer to your age, members in your section, individuals with similar interests), but everyone has your back on and off the field. Whether it’s the trumpet player you’re charted next to in two-step spacing marching at 180bpm or the color-guard girl you lend a towel to in the shower, the people you spend hours upon hours with become your family. This is not unlike being a Brother, where you must build trust and foster friendship within the chapter environment. The brothers in Gamma may not need me to lend them shampoo, but I’ll always have time to lend a helping hand or an open ear to any member of our family of likeminded bandsmen.
Finally, Melissa and I wanted to remind you that there are brothers everywhere! There were five brothers and one sister in SCVC alone this past summer (myself, David of Iota Alpha, Nikki and Sam of Lambda Psi, Aaron from Zeta Beta, and Catalina, a sister of Eta Omega). The 2014 drum major of Cascades was also a Brother, and it was impossible not to see letters at every show we marched. After DCI West at Stanford, a number of brothers from the participating corps and from the nearby Iota Pi chapter managed to find each other in a poorly lit parking lot and sing the hymn before busses rolled out. As I wasn’t able to travel to district events this last year, so this was an incredible first experience of the Bond that unites people from hundreds and even thousands of miles apart.
While we know that not everyone can do drum corps, Melissa and I want to encourage you to always look for ways to hang out with brothers even in those months where we may not have scheduled meetings or events. It can be a summer band, a road trip to National Convention, or even just an Mac n’ Cheese and Netflix night at a brother’s apartment, but we can always stand to learn from our experiences and grow closer in the beautiful experience that we all share as Brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi.
Carol Nishikawa and Melissa Tayon