Drum corps and our family

by Robert Siddall

This article was originally published in the June 2008 edition of Drum Corps World (Volume 37, Number 3). For this and other quality articles on the worldwide drum and bugle corps activity that you can’t find anywhere else, subscribe to the monthly newspaper by going to the “store” on this Web site.

In 1988, my wife and I were looking for an activity for our daughter to participate in. One morning we heard a radio advert that a local drum and bugle corps, the Calgary Cavaliers, was holding an open house. We heard the advertisement only one time. That 30-second blurb totally changed the direction our family’s life would take.

We attended that open house and were impressed with the concept and the many benefits our daughter could potentially receive. We also discovered that organizations do not just recruit the member, they recruit the whole family. Since then, we have continually had one or more of our four children involved with either a drum corps or, when local corps folded, a marching band.

It also introduced us to bingo. Do you have any idea what doing bingo’s for 20 years does for people? I get to take my wife out for dinner a number of times each month. Bingo food, mmmm!

I mention direction of our family. Looking back, the lessons learned by our children have set them up for life. They learned the importance of goal-setting, work ethic, traveling with people and even meeting a spouse.

Drum corps also gave me an opportunity to participate with my children in a way that most fathers can only dream about. In one way, as a self-employed person, it gave me the opportunity to take every summer off to volunteer as a driver. I could be as involved with my kids, as much as they would allow.

My oldest daughter was in the pit. The amount of equipment that has to be loaded every day gave me the opportunity to help or watch. But I was there. My kids only needed the Bank of Dad to be handy for truck stops in the middle of the night.

As our children graduated to open class corps we, as do most drum corps parents, traveled to see them perform. Great memories come from calling out their nicknames at a show they did not know we would be at. Some of those shows became, as one girl called them, our “golden shows”.

Drum corps also allowed our kids to develop vocations and to give back to the drum corps and band community.

Following three years with Santa Clara Vanguard (’94-’95-’96), Robin went on to teach with Allegiance Elite. She also does a great deal of arranging pit percussion and teaches three local bands.

Her husband, Paul, has “a ring” from the time he marched with Phantom Regiment (’96). Her two children attend at least one band rehearsal each week.

Our second daughter, Rita, marched with Santa Clara Vanguard (’95) and the Blue Devils (’97) and is “a ring”-owner. She is now a music teacher where her groups continue to win all sorts of awards whenever they enter a music festival.

The work ethic she learned through drum corps has now given her the ability to compete in Ironman competitions. Like drum corps, it takes a year to prepare.

This year’s family excitement goes to our third daughter, Rochelle, who is in her second season with the Santa Clara Vanguard colour guard (’07, ’08). It is also her age-out year. Rochelle also is giving back, teaching two local colour guards — the Stampede Show Band and the Calgary Round-up Band.

And finally, our son Rory is a member of the Stampede Show Band pit. His life revolves around music activities.

As I reminisce about drum corps, I can only express my appreciation to the global organization and how it meets its objectives of reaching past the musical experience into changing lives!