Northlanders perform in the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps
Marching band is not just for under the Friday night lights, or Saturday competitions. Four Park Hill High School graduates have spent their summer touring with the Troopers Band Corp, a competitive World Class drum and bugle corp founded in 1957. The corp’s season lasts from May to mid-August, with three to four shows a week, and traveling across 15-20 states performing. Shows are typically 11-13 minutes in length.
“Drum corps is obviously similar to marching music in school settings. Put simply, drum corps is marching music taken to a ridiculous extent. Rather than having rehearsal for band in school for a couple hours a day, drum corps move out onto the road and practice for twelve hours a day, seven days a week,” Graham Deckard, 2013 graduate of Park Hill High School, says.
Deckard is serving as the tour manager for the Troopers for their 2016 season and performed in the front ensemble from 2013-2015.
“My job consists of planning our tour and how we’ll be able to make it around the country, from show to show. The corps sleeps and rehearses in schools all across the nation. It’s my job to make sure that we are coordinating with these schools and shows, so the competitive season will run smoothly. On top of that, I manage all daily scheduling of rehearsal and transportation for our fleet–four charter busses, two semi trailers, and two small vehicles with trailers,” Deckard says.
Caleb Fankhauser, a 2013 graduate of Park Hill High School, has been involved with the Trooper Band Corp since 2013. The group is capped at 150, but with those behind the scenes, the traveling entourage could get closer to 200. As the Drum Corp International only allows performers until they are 21, this will be Fankhauser’s last season. One of Fankhauser’s favorite memories with the troop happened recently.
“We’re currently in Erie, Pennsylvania near Lake Erie. We convinced the staff to let us track to Lake Erie. People were all coming out and taking pictures and videos as we went by. Eventually, we got down to the lake and we took our drums off and spent some time on the beach area and in the water. The owner of a small bait and tackle shop nearby gave us all drinks because she was a fan. On the way back, we were approached by the staff of an adult special needs rehab center who asked if we could come by on our way back to the school we were staying at. So we stopped and played some of our show for them,” Fankhauser says.
The season wrapped up with the DCI World Championships August 11-15 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. They compete against other world class drum corps that have also been on tour. Fankhauser remembers his first time at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“A favorite memory is standing in the tunnel at Lucas Oil Stadium at my first quarterfinals show. I had seen that field in videos of groups I watched and admired, and suddenly I was stepping onto that field in front of thousands of people,” Fankhauser says.
Deckard says he loves doing his part in helping the musicians share their music with people around the country.
“We are gifted with world class instructors and some of the best performers that you’ll ever see. The level of achievement that these kids can accomplish is amazing. We take some of the most talented young adults from states all across the USA and even from other countries, entirely. Currently, the Troopers have multiple members from Canada and Japan, as well as the United States. With people coming from such great distance to pour such immense hours into a common goal, it’s truly amazing to see what can be accomplished. The commitment, dedication, and talent that they bring to the Troopers is what allows us to be such a fine and professional marching music ensemble,” Deckard says.
Auditions start with a winter camp, and more information can be found at TroopersDrumCorps.org/home.