A PASSION FOR MUSIC DELIVERS LIFELONG LESSONS
Growing up as a kid, playing sports was my life. I played baseball, soccer and hockey, and dreamed big of playing professionally, like any self-respecting grade-schooler.
At some point—most likely around the time I moved from my birthplace of Westwood, Massachusetts to the desert sprawl that is Chandler, Arizona—my passion shifted gears to a new interest that would stay with me nearly all the way through college. It would require numerous investments, both mentally in the form of discipline and practice, and financially in the form of dollars spent feeding my passion.
That passion was music, and one investment in particular provided the greatest and most surprising return of all.
My mother provided the seed funding for my venture with drum lessons for my tenth birthday, and I continued playing through middle school and eventually the high school marching band. But after high school, what was there? Thankfully, a new activity had just taken root in Arizona: drum and bugle corps.
The drum and bugle corps is like marching band with an adrenaline shot to the heart. With competitions all over the nation during the summer, drum corps rehearse nearly all day, every day from spring to fall as they vie to become Drum Corps International (DCI) champions. With all that traveling, equipment, and other needs, drum corps are forced to charge members a hefty fee to participate.
I decided to invest the money to participate for the first time in 2002, and I would eventually find myself marching my final show in 2006 as a DCI champion. But the greatest thing I gained from this experience wasn’t the musical expertise that came with hours of rehearsal; it was the intangibles that were ingrained in me through partaking in such an experience.
Leadership and teamwork were the two greatest lessons I took from marching corps for five years. There is no better sense of camaraderie than marching in precision with over 100 corps-mates, and no better sense of leadership than overseeing an entire section of the group as a veteran.
Enduring 10-hour rehearsals six days a week during 110-degree Arizona heat left me feeling I had the ability to conquer almost any task without hesitation. A few years later, I found myself in graduate school not only flexing my leadership and teamwork skills with group projects, but also pushing through tough assignments efficiently and without inflicting extra stress on myself.
The other surprising thing was incredible physical fitness. I was always slightly overweight growing up, and drum corps not only got my lungs in shape, but it trimmed me down to the appropriate weight and physique for my age and height.
I went into drum corps thinking it was a great way to continue my love for music and performance, but instead it became a vehicle for instilling valuable life lessons in me. As a recent graduate new to the workforce, I still look back on my days marching drum corps as the most valuable summers of my life.