- A Message for Parents
- What is DCI?
- What is Drum Corps?
- What is the Difference between Drum Corps and Marching Band
- What is the DCI Tour?
- What is the relationship between Drum Corps and DCI?
- Is Drum Corps a Good Option for my Son/Daughter?
- Drum Corps and Education
- Living Drum Corps Values
- What's the Cost?
- How do Corps Raise Money?
- Why do Costs vary among Corps?
- Where does the Money Go?
- How do Students Raise Money to pay their Fees?
- So What Does it Really Cost to Participate?
- How are Corps Members Transported?
- Where do Corps Stay While Touring?
- How are Students Fed at Rehearsal Camps and on Tour?
- What Insurance Does my Son/Daughter Need?
- What if Someone is Injured or Gets Sick at a Camp or on Tour?
- What Kind of Supervision do Students Have with the Corps?
- How Can I Stay in Contact with my Son/Daughter While on Tour?
- How much Spending Money does my Son/Daughter Need to Bring?
- How much money does it take to run a corps?
- How is a winner determined?
- How much time do corps rehearse?
- Where Can We Get News About DCI and the Corps?
- How Can I Find out about Competition and Events?
- How Can I Learn about Events close to Home?
- How Do We get Tickets to Events?
- How Can I Find Out the Results of a Competition?
- Is My Son/Daughter the Right Age?
- Which Level of Participation?
- Finding the Right Corps
- The Audition Process
- Volunteer with a Corps!
- How do I get in touch with DCI?
Understanding Their ReasoningEvery student has personal reasons for wanting to be part of a Drum Corps International group. Your son or daughter is no different. It may simply be to become a better performer. Alternatively, it could be a way to be with friends. College-level students often view membership in a drum corps as a key rung in their climb to be professional performers or arts educators. For many students, it is a way to challenge themselves to become the best they can be.
Help Them Pursue Their DreamsWinning a Drum Corps International championship title ... Performing in front of tens of thousands of people ... Being a better trumpet player ... Being part of a tradition and part of something bigger than oneself ... Becoming the best music teacher ... Having the most extraordinary summer experience of their lives ... Meeting new people ... Learning from the best teachers ... Seeing new places.
No matter their dream, being part of a DCI drum corps can help them achieve it, while at the same time providing one of the most intense and rewarding performing arts education experiences available in the world. It's an experience that helps build the performance, education and personal foundation of a lifetime.
Drum Corps International (DCI), formed in 1972, is the non-profit governing, oversight and sanctioning body for North American drum and bugle corps, whose members are under 22 years of age. DCI is headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., where it maintains a small full-time executive and administrative staff. The organization produces and sanctions competitions and oversees the setting and application of the rules of competition. DCI also trains and assigns adjudicators and schedules corps for participation in competitions. The penultimate series of events is the Drum Corps International World Championships held each August in Indianapolis. The week-long series attracts live audiences near 30,000!
DCI sanctions two classes of drum corps participation in North America – World Class and Open Class. World Class corps generally have older, more experienced students and tend to achieve levels of excellence commensurate with the experience and skill levels of the students and their instructional staff. Open Class corps tend to be smaller groups, often populated by younger students. Approximately 20 percent of students who participate in an Open Class corps ultimately become part of a World Class corps. Because scholastic music educators view participation in DCI drum corps positively, most World Class groups now process more applicants than positions that are available. This can necessitate an intense, time-consuming off-season audition process. However, most Open Class corps are able to accommodate nearly all students who wish to participate.
The drum corps activity and the Drum Corps International experience is often classified by fans and participants alike simply as "drum corps." There is not much agreement, however, upon a single definition for the term. Each corps has its own interpretation consistent with its own organization, mission and heritage. Drum Corps International's classification of "drum corps" has evolved over the years, moving from a structured, rules-based definition to an organization- and values-based definition. In addition, the passionate fans and followers of the activity have their own definition that is often personal, deeply held, and reflective of their experience with the drum corps.
Tradition and heritage permeate drum corps. Traditions span through instrumentation, style, attitude, uniforms and music. The degree to which today's corps pay homage to their traditions and heritage is the bellows that stokes the passions that truly separate drum corps from marching bands.
Here's a fairly straightforward definition of "drum corps" from Wikipedia:
A drum and bugle corps is a musical marching unit consisting of brass instruments, percussion instruments and color guard. Drum corps are specialized marching bands. Typically operating as independent organizations (no scholastic affiliation), drum corps perform on-field competitions, parades, festivals and other civic functions. The rules of Drum Corps International set the age limit for drum corps participation at 22, with most participants aged 17-21.
Competitive drum corps take part in a summer tour, visiting various cities around the country and participating in competitions. Competitions occur on football fields. Every year, each drum corps prepares a single show, approximately 8–12 minutes in length, and carefully refines this throughout the entire summer tour. This focus on a single show takes advantage of the large amount of time needed to hone and refine a modern drum corps program, with a momentum that continues to build toward the last performance of the season – championships.
So what are the specific differences? First, drum corps use only bell-front brass instrumentation – no woodwinds like saxophones, clarinets and flutes. Second, most marching bands (in the United States) are affiliated with schools and are usually inclusive – everyone who wants to participate is accommodated. Drum corps are independent organizations (typically not part of a scholastic institution) and have a membership limit set at 150. Depending on the corps, there may be more potential members than performance spaces available. Hence, drum corps, especially the World Class corps, are exclusive, rather than inclusive. Third, drum corps are self-financing. They rely on fees from participants, Drum Corps International, and traditional development and fundraising activities for their budgets. Scholastic marching bands rely heavily on school budgets (usually public tax revenue) for the bulk of their financial needs.
Formerly called the "Summer Music Games," the DCI Tour is a series of more than 100 drum corps competitions that take place across the country during June, July and August. These competitions are of two varieties – events Drum Corps International produces (Premier Events) and events sanctioned through DCI's national network of Tour Event Partners (Tour Events).
DCI creates the tour schedule, and corps are assigned to events based on availability and travel and logistical issues. Corps travel to the competitions and rehearse and prepare as they make their way between events. The intensive educational and social characteristics of the tour are a key aspect of the DCI experience that differentiates drum corps from scholastic marching band. From the perspective of many students, the tour IS the essence of the drum corps activity.
For Drum Corps International Premier Events, DCI is responsible for all aspects of those tour stops. Corps participating in those shows receive performance and travel fees from DCI. DCI also is responsible for paying all operating costs for events it produces, including stadium rental, security, parking, lighting, etc. For regular Tour Events, the Tour Event Partner pays DCI a fixed sanctioning fee. DCI provides the judges for the event and assigns corps to perform. A substantial portion of this sanctioning fee is used by DCI to compensate the participating corps and to pay the adjudicators.
Each drum corps is responsible for its own financial, managerial and operational well-being. That said, Drum Corps International has an interest in helping corps remain financially healthy and organizationally sound. Therefore, each year some resources are allocated to evaluate and support corps that may require assistance.
No money transfers from the corps to Drum Corps International as a condition of participation. At the same time, DCI compensates the corps for performances and participation in DCI events. This compensation can include payment for performances, payment of housing and rehearsal site fees, and mileage allowances.
Drum Corps International produces the "Tour." DCI is responsible for producing and sanctioning events and for scheduling the corps during the season. DCI may schedule corps regardless of their membership status.
Not all corps performing in a DCI-produced or -sanctioned event are "member corps." Corps attain membership in Drum Corps International by having a consistent record of performance excellence; external evaluations of their finances, management and operations; and, finally, a vote of the other members of the organization.
When a corps participates in a DCI-produced or -sanctioned event, DCI pays it a performance fee. This fee is relatively equal for all corps, regardless of placement. By participating in DCI events, the corps agrees to allow Drum Corps International to act on its behalf with respect to securing corporate sponsors and marketing audio/visual products and services. A corps is generally compensated for audio/visual sales of its specific performance, while DCI assumes the responsibility of securing the rights needed to record, broadcast and sell performances.
At the heart of the drum corps experience is a set of values – dedication, discipline, commitment and achievement through teamwork – that enhances the student's life. Young people soon discover that dedication and hard work enable them to achieve tremendous success. Success, in turn, promotes confidence in their abilities. Students learn and improve valuable personal skills like teamwork, time management and problem solving. Members of all DCI-affiliated corps are challenged to personally accept a new sense of discipline and responsibility. Above all, one of the key things drum corps participants learn is simply stated, but complex to convey – how to get things done.
While a substantial number of Drum Corps International alums are music and performing arts educators and professional performers, some are doctors, lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders in their chosen fields and in their communities. Regardless of the life path your son or daughter expects to follow, the Drum Corps International experience enhances the likelihood of success.
Aside from the music, performance and life education that comes directly from participating, many studies indicate that performing arts students show higher levels of academic achievement in all disciplines than students who do not participate in performing arts. More than 75 percent of the 1,100+ World Class corps students who participated in DCI's 2008 Project Persona research study, reported a grade point average (GPA) above a 3.0 at either the high school or university level.
The degree of performance/music education students receive depends upon the corps. A solid rudimentary education is likely to be available with some groups while others are likely to deliver an educational experience on par with a university-level performing arts curriculum. Regardless, the life education and experience gained from being part of any DCI group is likely to have a positive effect on your son or daughter.
- Character development
- Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
- Learning the value of teamwork
- Learning the value of commitment to purpose
- Learning the value of responsibility, integrity, sacrifice and excellence
- One-on-one musical and performance instruction by world-class instructors
- Meeting and working with people with diverse backgrounds and origins
- Making new, lifelong friends
The basic cost of participating in a DCI drum corps is the annual tuition. The corps often call this a "tour fee" or "dues." In keeping with the educational component of Drum Corps International's mission, the annual fee the students pay the corps is referred to as tuition. The tuition amount varies but generally covers instruments, equipment, uniforms, instruction, facility rental as well as transportation, food and housing during the tours.
Depending on the corps, there also may be costs associated with off-season auditions and camps. Members may be responsible for some specific equipment and uniform costs as well, such as rehearsal clothes, gloves, valve oil, shoes, socks, hat plumes, etc. Expect your student's group to provide a list of all costs specific to that corps.
Considering the cost of a two- or three-day travel trip with a high school marching band to perform at a national parade, or a two week-long summer sports camp can run upward of $1,500 or more, keep in mind that tuition with your son or daughter's drum corps will include travel, food and housing over the course of more than 60 days during the summer!
Corps will sometimes adjust their student tuition and fees based on the success of their fundraising activities. Corps with strong fundraising capabilities may have lower tuition and fees. Conversely, some corps rely more heavily on student tuition and fees than others.
Check with the corps in which your student is interested for specific tuition and cost information.
The rest of a corps' operating budget comes from other sources, such as student fees and tuition, corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales and various fundraising activities. Corps set student tuition based on a variety of factors, including how much money they raise from other sources, the demand for positions in the corps and other market factors.
For other groups, tuition can account for as much as 50 percent of the overall operating budget of the corps. Top groups typically look for tuition to cover only 25 to 30 percent of the overall operating budget.
For many DCI member corps, participation is akin to an intense experiential training course on how to organize and teach the marching arts. Considering more than 60 percent of the students participating in DCI's World Class corps are college-level arts and music majors, their participation may more properly be viewed as an extension of their college education. Some corps even have arrangements with universities and colleges in their area to grant college credit for participation.
Other sources of funding cited in the research included student loans (recognition that participation in a drum corps is a necessary educational experience) and other corps-supported fundraising activities, such as selling ads for event program books.
Transportation for rehearsals camps:
For rehearsal camps, students will generally be responsible for arranging and paying for their own transportation. Some corps may provide transportation from airports/train stations to the rehearsal camp site.
Some corps hold rehearsal camps at locations around the country, thus reducing the student's overall travel expense. When planning your student's drum corps budget, be sure to account for rehearsal camp transportation, as this cost is above and beyond the corps' tuition and fees. Check with your student's corps for specific information about transportation requirements and arrangements.
Transportation during the DCI Tour:
While on tour, the corps is responsible for transportation and the cost of that transportation, which is included in the student's tuition.
While touring, most corps travel as a group via bus convoy. In some cases, a corps may travel using other modes of transportation especially when a long distance (coast-to-coast) needs to be traversed in a timely fashion. Once they arrive at their destination, the corps will likely transfer to buses.
While on tour, Drum Corps International generally arranges for corps housing. In some cases, a corps may arrange its own housing. This might happen if the corps or someone on the corps' staff has a relationship with a specific school or facility. DCI has a Corps Housing Coordinator who evaluates potential housing sites based on DCI's standards, which includes access to rehearsal fields, sleeping and shower facilities, as well as power/water access so the corps can provide food services.
When staying at schools or other facilities that do not have beds – which are most housing sites – students sleep in their sleeping bags on gym floors or other available space. Most corps recommend students carry an inflatable mattress or pad. DCI even has a corporate partnership with AeroBed.
The specific procedures and regimens that a corps follows with respect to housing vary between corps. Check with your student's corps regarding specifics of how the corps is housed and what rules/procedures they follow when on tour.
Housing corps during the tour is one of the most challenging aspects of DCI's operations. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get access to facilities, with year-round school, liability/safety, and cost all being critical factors. If you believe you can help DCI find suitable housing and/or rehearsal sites for corps during the tour, please contact DCI today.
If a corps does not have a mobile kitchen, they likely feed students through a combination of pre-packaged foods, delivery food services and stops at restaurants or other dining facilities. The extent to which the corps provides food and food services will help determine how much money your student will need to have while on tour or at rehearsals.
Many corps have "contracts" or "agreements" members must sign and agree to as a condition of participation. Issues addressed in these agreements include attendance and tardiness policies, conduct while in uniform, bus etiquette, peer and staff relationship etiquette, smoking and illegal substance use. These contracts are a clear acknowledgement of what is expected and what the consequences are if those expectations are not met. It is also common for a corps to have very specific guidelines relating to adult staff/volunteer and student interaction.
For the specifics of tour supervision, check directly with the corps in which your student is interested in joining.
Designated mail stops where you can send mail that the corps picks up as they tour.
Cell phones. Most corps allow students to use cell phones on personal time, however check with your corps for specific cell phone use and charging policies.
Most corps discourage students from bringing laptops and other valuables on tour, so e-mail use will likely be limited to any public access sites the corps encounters, or any capabilities on your student's phone.
Generally because of extensive rehearsal and travel schedules, students are not likely to have much opportunity to spend money. Items for which a student might need cash include snacks, laundry, souvenirs or money to spend on "free days" – those days during the tour when a corps doesn't practice and spends the day visiting attractions or a city.
Most corps recommend not bringing a substantial amount of money on tour because of the potential for loss. Some corps even have "banks" whereby students can deposit their money with the corps and then make withdrawals during the tour as needed. This is a good way to protect against loss. ATM cards are also an attractive alternative to cash, as are student-oriented credit cards that track use and can easily be reloaded by the family.
The annual budgets for top level DCI corps range from $250,000 to more than $750,000. Of that, more than $50,000 is spent on food for the corps and $75,000 for uniforms and flags and equipment.
Each corps performs a show lasting between 10 and 11.5 minutes on a football field. A set of even judges, placed in the stands and on the field, evaluate the corps relative to how well it plays its brass and percussion, and how well it maneuvers. Additionally, macro level evaluations, called "General Effect" are made for these three (brass, percussion and movement) categories. Once all the judges have completed their evaluations, the scores are totaled to determine an overall score. The maximum score is 100 points.
You can also check out DCI's Fan Network at TheFanNetwork.org. This multimedia site provides a substantial amount of information about the corps year-round. The corps themselves actually produce much of it. A significant amount of premium content, including live Webcasts of events, is available to paid Fan Network subscribers. Audio and video downloads of past and present corps performances also are available to purchase.
A great way to have information about events and the corps delivered directly to your e-mail inbox is by subscribing to DCI's free e-newsletters. Drum Corps International's weekly DCI.now, and its Box Office and Merchandise Alerts keep you informed on the latest news, information, events coming to your area and special offers. Join these mailing lists and more on the DCI.org homepage.
DCI's flagship print publication "Drum Corps International Magazine" is the official magazine of Marching Music's Major League™. Each issue of DCI Magazine includes feature-length articles, educational offerings, full color images of the participating corps, as well as schedules for upcoming events and ticket information. Published three times a year, you can purchase a subscription to DCI Magazine at store.DCI.org.
For detailed information about a specific corps, we recommend visiting each corps'individual Web site. You can locate contact information and links to each Drum Corps International unit online at DCI.org/corps.
Here's a quick list of many of the informational resources DCI and the corps make available to the drum corps community:
- DCI.org – News, schedules and results.
- DCI.now – E-newsletters with current information about upcoming events, current results and other timely issues. Multiple editions available related to news, events, tickets and merchandise offers.
- DCI Fan Network – Performance, practice and on-the-road audio and video of the corps and select event Webcasts. Audio/video downloads of past and current performances. Some premium content requires a paid subscription.
- Drum Corps International Magazine – Official publication of DCI, published three times a year. Available by paid subscription.
- Corps Web sites – Information about each individual corps.
Schedule" tab to see a calendar of events, with the corps lineups, show locations, dates, times and ticketing information as it's available. The schedule section also allows you to search events by an individual group to see only the events in which that corps is participating.
Tickets" tab from from the DCI.org homepage. For events not ticketed by DCI, check the "Schedule" tab for ticketing and other event information. You can also purchase tickets to events for which DCI provides ticketing services by calling 317.275.1212.
Tickets for the DCI World Championships are available in several ways. First, each of DCI's corps has an allotment of tickets it makes available to its fans and families. If you are a supporter or are affiliated with a corps, check with them about Championship ticket availability. Alternatively, you can purchase Championship tickets directly from Drum Corps International, either singularly through Ticketmaster or as part of a Championship ticket package if available.
Fans looking for the "best seats in the house" can join DCI's "Friends of DCI." Members of this program get ticketing priority and (depending on your "Friends" level) other benefits. Learn more about the Friends of DCI program at DCI.org/friends or by calling 317.275.1212.
DCI.org/scores. Results are posted within minutes of the conclusion of each competition. Some corps will also post results on their Web sites, but DCI.org is the only place to see the recap sheets for each event which breaks out all of the scoring results in detail.
DCI's audition information page at DCI.org/audition includes an age eligibility calculator to help you figure out the cutoff.
The class of corps right for your child depends on the level of commitment they want and CAN make, their talent level and what resources – time and money – they have available. While World Class corps tend to travel consistently from the middle of June until the World Championships in August, many Open Class corps perform only on weekends until the week prior to the Championships. This often makes it possible for Open Class students to also hold jobs during the drum corps season. Additionally, several World Class corps like the Pacific Crest and Jersey Surf offer a limited touring model, starting their tours in mid-July rather than mid-June.
The three classes of competition and participation sanctioned by Drum Corps International include:
If the student is committed to participating with a DCI group, it may be advisable to have a fallback option should they not make the roster of their first choice. In a survey conducted prior to the 2008 season, 1,100+ World Class students revealed the primary factor in their corps selection was the educational opportunity offered by that corps. What makes a corps "right" for a student depends on a number of factors including location, corps schedule, cost, age, friends and family, and the student's objectives, such as education.
If your son or daughter needs or wants to work during the summer, then the corps options are likely narrowed to an Open Class corps or one of the World Class corps that offers a limited-touring model.
Other factors that should be considered include where other friends and family members perform, how many events the family will be able to attend and whether or not you (the parents) want to volunteer to help the corps. Talent and ability will also be a key determinant of which corps a student can perform in.
Aside from actually traveling and performing with a corps, nothing helps the student understand the DCI corps experience more than going through the audition process and attending audition camps which typically take place beginning in November through the winter. Even spending just one weekend with a corps will give a student a great educational experience. In addition, corps encourage prospective members to audition so they can receive an assessment of their talent and ability. Regardless of whether your student attends a camp or auditions for a corps, they should talk to current and former members of any corps of which they are considering being a part of.
A complete list of corps contact information can be found online at DCI.org/corps.
- Submit application and audition tapes and/or videos as requested by the corps.
- For the audition camp, students need to work in advance on the audition materials and show up prepared (Note: there are usually camp and audition fees. Check with the specific corps for details.)
- Attend audition camps. (Some corps hold audition camps at locations around the country, not just in their hometown.)
- If invited to attend additional rehearsal camps, come prepared. (Corps are likely to have several off-season rehearsal camps, typically once a month.)
- Make it through the rehearsal camps.
Some corps offer special educational "What It Takes" (WITS) camps for students who are not quite ready to make that corps' roster. If your student does not make the roster of his/her select corps, and he/she doesn't want to be part of any other DCI drum corps, then a WITS camp may be a suitable next step.
The best way to find out about volunteer opportunities is to contact the specific corps you would like to support for more details. Some opportunities, such as bus and vehicle drivers, may require special licensing or certification. One of the crucial needs corps have while on the tour is professional medical help. Other typical volunteer opportunities include merchandise sales and cooking. Cooking four times a day for 200 hungry people can test the limits of even the most adroit culinary experts!
View a complete list of corps contact information at DCI.org/corps.
Drum Corps International
110 W. Washington St, Ste C
Indianapolis, IN 46204