Finals Day DCI 2022

Final retreat and awards.

Saturday, August 13, 2022 – Lucas Oil Stadium

3:00 pm 

Tonight is the final night of DCI here in Indianapolis, and the excitement cannot be more intense. Especially after last night’s soiree, a great experience hanging in Military Park, the warm-up area for the horn and drum lines. I did not have a ticket for the show, so that was my destination for Friday evening. Upon arrival in the park, Carolina Crown brass was in section groups going through snippets of the show to continue achieving that perfect pitch and tone they are known for. Shortly, they all reassembled together trumpets, mellophones, baritones, euphoniums, and tubas. There were roughly 80 in a concentric circle about 30 – 40 feet in diameter. The leader in the center had complete control as he paced them through the chord progressions to the final intense chord that made everyone’s hair stand on end that had been sitting in the grass around them.

BAC drum line at Military Park.

At another location in the park, the Boston Crusaders drum line assembled for their warm-up. Coincidentally, the Bluecoats were adjacent to them, about 100 feet away, finishing their warm-up. Performing that night before BAC, they were soon whisked away in their coaches to be transported to the stadium with a police escort, leaving BAC to capture the crowd of percussion enthusiasts lurking in the park. BAC’s drum line has been garnering quite a following this year, and hundreds of onlookers and listeners were cheering after even the most rudimentary warm-up piece. Colin, the head percussion master, had big smiles, knowing he had a great team of gifted members to pull off his complex percussion book. His hugs of each of the battery members indicate the tight bond between teacher and student developed through the summer ordeal. Colin’s masterful composing is equaled by the level of instruction and the talent on the field.

JW Marriott commands the skyline.

Following that magical moment, I took a long urban walk. Indianapolis is a beautiful place to walk in the downtown area. The government center and White River State Park are well connected with sidewalks, pathways, and esplanades. The Central Canal provides a waterfront-like experience through the city, and you can even rent kayaks and paddle boats. As the sun set, the lighting was great for capturing the cityscapes and the variety of architecture of the large urban buildings in juxtaposition. I headed to the Crown Plaza Conference Center, where I found a nice little Kawai grand piano for a great session on Wednesday evening. Maybe a bit more improv at track 10. Alas, the doors were locked. However, while waiting for a traffic light to change, I had a friendly conversation with Jill, a drum corps mom. I walked with her about seven blocks to hear her story about her son Noah, a first-year member of the Madison Scouts. Being a newbie mom, she said she was impressed with his experience. Of course, she has been volunteering and spending time with the corps. A trumpeter, Noah will be attending college for music and wants to be a music instructor. Another proud drum corps parent. This city is full of them this week.

Disembarking point for the marching members.

My feet warn out; I returned to the hotel to rest my weary bones on the patio. Brandon, the lone occupant at the table, and I immediately connected. His daughter Sophia was chosen to perform with INpact. This is an ensemble of hundreds of students selected throughout Indiana to perform one night in the Lucas Oil stadium. Sophia is a snare drummer. Brandon spoke about the culture of his community in southern Indiana, not necessarily supporting girls making such a choice to be a drummer. He has been encouraging and supporting her choice despite this. Her commitment and dedication were equally applied, and she was the first girl drummer to represent her county in INpact. They will perform this evening to start us off.


10:30 pm

Oh, what a night it’s been. I’m back in the clubroom to catch up with you on a post-show reflection. Twelve of the world’s finest musical and marching ensembles performed their hearts out in the final competition of the 2022 DCI season at Lucas Oil Stadium. My seat was nosebleed far up high, under the rafters in section 435 beyond the end zone. These were not the best seats. However, as providence would have it, my seat neighbor was a brass instructor for Music City and band director at a large high school with a marching band of 250 members. Sharing asides and observations with him as the shows progressed through the evening was a treat. Kelly is one of the many dedicated band directors and instructors participating in DCI corps that I have gotten to know since my emersion in the activity in 2012. They are my heroes.

The Troopers bring home their strong message.
Bravo to this fine cellist.

The world is a better place because of those who inspire and teach. Music is the most universal and unifying force on earth. Youth music education in DCI teaches the world’s religion to thousands of young individuals every summer. After tonight, these students return to their high schools and college campuses with a highly enhanced appreciation for the fantastic things they can do when they all work together. They will go on to lead others to learn the same. This is all thanks to Kelly and the thousands of others who dedicate themselves to the summer-long slog across the country, culminating in this music and motion mecca here in Indy. No matter what ranking each performing corps achieve, they are all champions for doing the same. Music City achieved its personal corps goal of a high score of 80. Scores are only one measure of success.

Blue Devils undefeated World Champions.


Boston Crusader finals run.

11:00 pm

I later enjoyed the extravagant display of thousands of colorfully clad corps members arrayed across the 1.32 acre, lined rectangular field in front of me as they assembled for the award ceremony and retreat. As they disassembled, an overwhelming aura of love and comradery abounded. Tears of joy are interspersed with sad tears of longing and loss for those who aged out this year. Friendships established along the way are consummated with goodbyes and vows to keep in touch. Alas, another DCI season has come to an end. Tomorrow, I will rise early for the airport to drop off my adopted drum corps brothers, the Martins. I will then hit the high side of the left lane on I70 East for the long haul back to Vermont in my temporary loaner Volvo. I’ll try to catch up with you from the road. If not, I will when I am once again along the Mill Brook in a couple of days.

Pajama-clad Bluecoats final sleepover.

11:30 PM

Time to celebrate!

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