For many people, summer means only one thing: DRUM CORPS.

That’s why people get so excited when they hear that Carolina Crown is our drum-corps-in-residence at the Summer Symposium. And we take full advantage of having them around!

On Thursday morning, our directors got a wake-up call from Carolina Crown’s brass. Matt Harloff welcomed educators “inside the circle” bright and early at 8:30 am, where he walked through the exercises and warmups he uses to get that signature Crown brass sound. They started the morning with tubes, then they leveled up to a “gnarly” tone, eventually knocking attendees’ socks off with the warm, polished resonance we’ve come to expect.

Mid-morning, educators moved from the field to the upper level of the stadium where they were met by Michael Klesch and Thom Hannum to talk about the rehearsal techniques they use with Crown that can be used with attendees’ own programs back home.In the meantime, Carolina Crown’s color guard met up with our Color Guard students over on the quad, leading sessions on both movement and equipment.After lunch on Thursday, Carolina Crown performed in exhibition for DCI judges, including Judge Administrator John Phillips. These clinicians used Crown’s performance as an example to illustrate to the Director Academy exactly how judges evaluate a performance.

Later Thursday afternoon, the Marching Band students arrived for a rehearsal with Carolina Crown. They moved methodically, first marching the drill without playing, then playing the music without marching, and finally putting the music and drill together. From the stands, the middle school band campers looked on, cheering the final run-through. For those middle school students who may not have decided whether to march in high school, this was a wonderful opportunity to show students what could be expected of them in the years to come.
On Friday, Crown staff spoke about their process in designing and producing the show, with an eye toward inspiring educators to apply their ideas to their own programs at home. Later that afternoon, directors and percussion instructors gathered at the stadium to hear Thom Hannum speak about how he approaches his work with Carolina Crown percussion. Afterwards, marching percussion students worked with Crown’s drumline, while the marching band was ready for their performance with Carolina Crown.

As the stadium filled, the marching band students assembled on the field. They were joined by 3-year veterans of the drum major track to conduct. Moments later, the crowd at Scheumann Stadium was treated to a beautiful arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner, arranged and conducted by Richard Saucedo.

At the end of the evening, while drum corps scores were tallied, the marching band students took the field again, this time alongside Carolina Crown. The drum majors gave the downbeat, and the field exploded into sound: Crown, playing their powerful opener, augmented by over 200 MFA marching band campers. These high school students not only matched Crown note for note, but duplicated the choreography as well. They left the field jubilant, cheered on and high-fived by Crown’s brass, guard, and percussion.

Moments later, the marching percussion campers took the field, thrilling the crowd who clapped along to the beats they’d learned throughout the week. Each section—snares, tenors and basses—was featured in turn, along with talented soloists.

They mentioned something about drum corps scores after that, but after these exhilarating, positively life-changing performances by our 2019 MFA campers, who could get excited about a few numbers?