Documenting a Corps on Tour-Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps

Posting a daily blog during the drum corps season helps one drum major keep in touch with all parents and fans as well as showcase growth and gain perspective.  

“You know, back in my day, none of the members had cell phones or even a way to keep in touch at home,” explained our director, half sarcastically, half seriously.

That conversation was the first spark that inspired me to keep a daily blog during my age-out season in 2014 as a drum major for the Blue Knights (BK) Drum and Bugle Corps. Although members now have many ways to stay in contact with people outside of the activity, I wanted an easy place for all of the parents, alumni, and anyone involved with our organization to be able to know what we were doing every day while on tour.

I wrote a post every day that provided the date, the town we were in, a single word or phrase to summarize the day, at least one photo, and a paragraph or two explaining what we did.

Positive Feedback

Fortunately, from Colorado to Indiana, I had nothing but positive responses:

“Dude, I’m loving these updates. Means a lot to us alum that still follow and love the corps.”

“Thank you from a BK parent. I seriously look for this blog before the morning newspaper. …”

“I think the opportunity to become a Blue Knight (thanks to leaders like you) opens the door to opportunities in life that go far beyond the scope and reach that anyone could possibly imagine. Much gratitude to you and all the Blue Knights staff.”

Daily Dedication

Knowing that this kind of response was coming from people who did not know me and only wanted to see the growth of our corps was the fuel for keeping up with these posts on tour.

This blog was my way of showing the dedication of our staff in growing our members every day and the dedication of our members to this organization, to this activity, both on and off the field.

Dog Days of Tour

Some days were certainly easier to write than others. For example, writing on the bookends of tour was easiest because the excitement of starting and ending tour and the contrast of where we thought we would be and where we ended up made the words flow.

However, around late July, in what our director called the “dog days of tour” when the show only needed polishing and the days felt like rinse, lather, repeat, it was difficult to come up with anything beyond, “Yup, same thing we did yesterday, but in a different town.”

But did I write that? Of course not.

I knew that if I gave off any feeling that was less than enthusiastic about what we were doing, then that attitude would trickle down to the rest of the corps (as well as everyone reading the blog), and we wouldn’t achieve success through poisonous attitudes.

So not only was it important for me to write every day, it was also important for me to find things to write about that helped maintain and boost morale. Not every day was a walk in the park, but I was able to find exciting and positive things, sometimes little things, to share on my blog.

Here’s a little bit from July 22 to explain exactly what I mean during those “rinse, lather, repeat” kind of days:

“When we pulled into Putnam City High School, we immediately noticed that there was drastically less humidity, and that got the corps quite excited. However, as the day went on, we found not a single cloud in the sky, and the high that day was 97. With all these past few days of heat, I’m surprised with the amount of focus and intensity the corps can bring to a rehearsal because did that stop the Blue Knights? No. Did running out of water in the middle of the block ruin the next rep? No. Did the sweat in the eye and sunscreen and physical demand make us perform any less than our best? No. And it’s that perseverance during the worst of the worst that makes me proud to be a Blue Knight.”

A Better Version of You

Here’s what I learned from watching the members develop and seeing myself develop (in retrospect) through documenting that season with the Blue Knights: Do something that you love every day.

Why?

Because doing something every day that you love makes you a better version of yourself. And after three years of watching my 150 brothers and sisters do what they love to do every day, pushing myself to be the best leader I could for them every day, and making the time to reflect on the personal and organizational growth through a blog post every day in my last season, I can wholeheartedly say that committing to your passion every day makes you a better version of yourself.

The results are never immediate, which was another reason to document each day, and the journey is long, but as our director would say often, “Each day will last an eternity, but the summer will go by in the blink of an eye.”

And on the other side of that summer, you will be a better version of yourself.

About the Author

CJ Garcia was a drum major for the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps from 2013 to 2014 and was backfield conductor in 2012. Through Ascend Performing Arts, he also helps lead seminars on musical leadership for high school band programs.  In 2015, CJ earned his degree in music composition from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver and is currently working at MakeMusic as an engraver for SmartMusic.

To read archives of CJ’s blog, visit the page “Off the Field with the Blue Knights” on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Domani Barkley.

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