The definition of an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina.”
Last time I checked, today’s marching percussionist requires an awful lot of strength, agility and stamina to be successful. But if everyone knows how much hard work and energy it takes to be successful running around with heavy drums on in the hot sun, then why is it that we’re so lousy at actually preparing our bodies for everything they need to go through?
Wear the Drum
For all the improvements in marching drums over the last two decades, the drums still don’t carry themselves, so strengthening your core and lower back are really critical to your comfort and health.
There has been a huge increase in the use of drum stands, which is wonderful for developing your hands. But I also see students show up in August much less physically prepared because they spent an entire summer drumming on stands. Regular time spent wearing drums will help prepare you for the full season.
Take Care of Your Body
More than anything today’s marching percussionist needs to view him or herself more as an athelete and take care of his or her body like a member of a traditional sports team. That means regular cardio workouts.
And drinking lots and lots of water, putting on sunscreen and not eating fast food on your lunch breaks.
Drum corps really get this and routinely travel with sports therapists and trainers. But as high schools look to emulate drum corps and push themselves higher, louder and faster, students and staff should be increasing the focus on building strength, agility and stamina.
The success of a drumline is so dependent on everyone being at every rehearsal, learning to listen and play clean. Make sure all the members in your line are taking care of themselves, and it’ll be a much easier road.
About the Author
Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. During the past 10 years, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.