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19 June 2007

Alabama High School Musician
Joins JSU Spirit's 2007 Tour

Musician Not Taking Summer Off

Monday, June 18, 2007
The Huntsville Times

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Bob Jones trumpet player hones skills with Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps

Summer is often a time for travel and life-changing experiences. This summer, one high school musician will encounter both.

Trumpet player Derek Weidenthal, a rising Bob Jones High senior, is traveling and competing with Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps. The group is based out of Jacksonville State University and is part of Drum Corps International, an association of corps from across the country and around the world.

DCI describes itself as "Marching Music's Major League." Drum corps are similar to marching bands except they contain no woodwind instruments. Division I corps such as Spirit are comprised of 135 members, including brass, percussion and color guard.

Membership, however, is not the only aspect that differs from a typical high school marching band. Rehearsals and performances are often far more grueling as corps prepare, according to the DCI Web site, "an intense, choreographed musical experience staged on a football stadium field." Performances are more like a theatrical production than a classic Friday night halftime show.

For Derek, marching with a drum corps is a dream come true.

"I've wanted to march since the first time I saw a drum corps show," says Derek, who wants to major in music education in college. "After talking to people who had marched before, it just seemed like a really fantastic experience to help me become a better musician."

Derek auditioned for three different corps last winter, and he eventually decided to accept a contract from Spirit. Since January, he has been traveling to Jacksonville once a month for weekend camps. At the end of school, he officially moved in with the corps for the rest of the summer.

Drum corps life is far from glamorous. Most corps members undergo an exhausting 12 to 14 hours of rehearsal a day in the summer heat and humidity to prepare their full show. Once competition begins, the corps packs the bus and begins a life on the road that takes it to different cities every day.

Throughout their tour, corps members continue polishing their marching show.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also the most awesome," says Derek. "There are times during rehearsal when I feel like quitting, but I know performing in front of thousands of fans will be worth it."

After an intense pre-tour rehearsal schedule at Jacksonville State University, Spirit began its summer competition circuit on June 12. The trip began with several exhibition performances and opening day this past Saturday in Annapolis, Md. The tour will culminate August 8-11 in Pasadena, Calif., at the DCI World Championships.

Derek is optimistic about the season.

"Right now our show is much better than I expected it to be at this point in the season, and it's only going to continue improving. I can't wait until finals."

See story at The Huntsville Times's website: .

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