Les Misérables is one of my favourite musicals. I’m always delighted to be asked to be in the pit for a show as I love the music so much!

Les Misérables was also the first drum corps show I ever saw. I was performing in the pit for a high school production of the musical in 2016 and had the ‘bug’ (ask any pit member of a musical and they’ll tell you), so was searching for videos of Les Mis on YouTube when I came across this:

I was absolutely blown away – being from the UK, drum corps was something I had never really experienced. I did a little more research about Santa Clara Vanguard, and found out that they competed at DCI (Drum Corps International). After hearing that show, and seeing the standard and quality of other shows from similar years (especially Carolina Crown’s 2013 and 2014 shows, which both used music from my favourite brass band composer, Paul Lovatt-Cooper), I decided that I was going to go out to the US and join a drum corps.

A couple of weeks after ‘liking’ the DCI Facebook page, I saw them share an article. British Drum Corps Has Sights Set On 2017 DCI World Championships’ read the title, instantly piquing my interest. The idea of rehearsing with a band over in the UK and then flying out to perform in America appealed to me a lot more than flying out to the US, making arrangements to live there for a year and hoping to make a corps! So, off I went to Chesterfield, to rehearse with THE COMPANY (but that’s a different story)! To cut a long story short, I didn’t get into THE COMPANY as I hadn’t marched anywhere before, however they arranged for me to go along to Revolution so that I could learn. A red patch, clean sweep in BYBA, 5th place DCUK placing and 11th place DCE placing later, I was ready.

However, shortly after the end of the 2017 season, Kidsgrove Scouts announced their 2018 show. ‘24601 – A Les Misérables Story’. I was instantly drawn to it, and emailed them to express my interest pretty much a day later. They invited me along to one of their camps, so that’s where I’ve spent the last weekend!

Picking Jimmy and Shelby up from Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations respectively, we set off early on Saturday morning. Unfortunately for us, there were some serious traffic issues and so almost all of the drumline was late! However, this did mean that we weren’t the only ones to be tardy, so no first impressions were ruined.

We all set up our equipment, and then the instructor for the weekend arrived. Jared Andrews.

Jared and Tim working with the snare line

Jared is a Promark artist as well as being an instructor with the highly successful Blue Devils, RCC and Rhythm X ensembles. If these don’t mean anything to you, he’s a really talented performer and instructor! He will be working alongside Tim Dahl, an equally talented instructor and performer.

Due to the high standard of performers they are both used to working with, we spent the entire two days having every tiny mistake pointed out, no stone left unturned! This just goes to show how talented they both are, as they could see/hear something and instantly come up with a technique fix!

On the afternoon of the last day of camp, we were given music for the introduction. This has been written by Scott Johnson (ScoJo), arranger and percussion instructor for the Blue Devils.

kidsgrove music
An extract of the Kidsgrove 2018 introduction

For me, this was such a surreal experience. I was playing music written by Blue Devils staff, whilst being instructed by Blue Devils staff. I had to pinch myself several times to make sure this was really happening!

All in all, whilst I cannot give away too much about the camp and 2018 show, it has been an incredible experience this weekend and has left me with a difficult decision to make!

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