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Thread: Drum Corps Auditions

  1. Drum Corps Auditions

    Just recently, I decided I would like to audition for Drum Corps next year (this winter), more specifically the Colts, as they are relatively close by and I've visited Dubuque several times and already know the town pretty well, in addition to having friends who've marched in Colts and knowing staff already. I plan on attending at least one of the audition camps, possibly two if scheduling allows, but for those who have auditioned for corps, what can I be preparing now? I'm mainly a trombonist, who has been auditioning for All-State for two years now, so I know my scales, and I have plenty of "techniques" under my belt (now I'm working on transferring those to euph) but I'm not sure where else to go from here.

    1) Is there anything that would be helpful to practice? Something auditioners look for specifically?

    2) My director (who marched Scouts ~10 years ago) recommended I audition on trombone, even though I'll be auditioning for a bari spot (obviously). Technically, I am a better trombonist than euphoniumist, but I've been playing euphonium for several years now, almost as long as trombone, and I feel that I would perform just as well on euphonium. Thoughts?

    3) The one area I've struggled more than anywhere else on euphonium is valve technique, which can be important in drum corps. I've been trying to get my fingers to move faster and more coordinated to my tongue, and I've been told the main reason I 'm having trouble with this is because I play with my fingers out, using the pads/knuckles, as opposed to straight down, using the fingertips. Any tips or exercises to work on these things, or am I just going to have to go through a grip change?

    I'd appreciate any help, thanks!
    1905 Boosey Class A Euphonium-Wick SM4M
    Yamaha 301M Marching Baritone-Schilke 52
    1960 Conn 11J-Conn Helleberg
    1961 Conn 14J-Vincent DFL
    2015 King 2341-Bach Corp. 24AW
    Olds O95 Sousaphone-King 26

  2. 1. A corps will generally publish an audition packet that you can buy or request. Here's the form to get the Colts' packet. That'll be the most surefire guide to what the staff are looking for. If you haven't yet, I'd also check out the Reddit forum /r/drumcorps -- they have an "audition season megathread" for getting advice on how to audition.

    2. Due to a recent rules change, trombones and other non-bugle-shaped brass instruments are now allowed in DCI, so many corps are exploring the performance possibilities this opens up. Some corps are looking for bari players who can switch freely between bari and trombone for special sectional features, so this may be why your director is recommending this. I'd ask the low brass tech at Colts what they recommend, though -- if they don't march trombones then you might as well just audition on bari.

    3. Fingertip grip is a visual requirement as well as good playing technique. It's something you'll just have to adjust to.

  3. On top of technique and musicality, practice getting in shape. Practice playing with good posture, and discipline. In addition to sounding good, you also have to be able to look the part as well. Watch sectional videos of the colts if you can find them and watch how they stand at attention. Your audition packet will likely have info on marching posture and technique, study it, digest it.

  4. One "tool" you might try to get used to playing with your fingertips would be to put a loop of scotch tape on your valve caps. I did that a few times as a freshman in college to work on keeping my fingers from drifting away from the valves, and it would probably work as a physical aid to remind you to play with your tips instead of your knuckles. Once you touch the caps with your tips you will get a pretty annoying little tug if you start drifting towards your knuckles. As with pretty much any new physical technique I would suggest starting very slow with scales in an easy range and really focus on not letting tension build up in your arm/hand/fingers with your new hand position. Slow practice with your fingertips staying close to the valves may also help coordinate your fingers with your tonguing. The closer your fingers stay to the valves, the less time it takes to depress the valve once your brain tells your fingers to do it, and the better your chances are of tonguing at the right moment the valve is depressed or released.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by aroberts781 View Post
    One "tool" you might try to get used to playing with your fingertips would be to put a loop of scotch tape on your valve caps. I did that a few times as a freshman in college to work on keeping my fingers from drifting away from the valves, and it would probably work as a physical aid to remind you to play with your tips instead of your knuckles. Once you touch the caps with your tips you will get a pretty annoying little tug if you start drifting towards your knuckles.
    That's interesting, I did something similar when going through a grip change on trombone. I used to hold the slide without my thumb, but was warned to start using my thumb so as to avoid dropping it by accident. I was taught a trick to hold a quarter between my thumb and the slide so if I drop it, I know to slow down. I never did drop it. I'll try something like a quarter on each valve, the physical reminder there's something there may be enough to keep it from going back.


    I've signed up for the audition packet when it comes out, and I'll be looking at the Reddit thread as soon as I'm done with this post. As to trombones, I haven't seen a Colts show with trombones yet, but we'll see. I already plan on asking. Either way I'll be making it clear that I am a trombonist.

    Thanks guys! This is great so far!
    1905 Boosey Class A Euphonium-Wick SM4M
    Yamaha 301M Marching Baritone-Schilke 52
    1960 Conn 11J-Conn Helleberg
    1961 Conn 14J-Vincent DFL
    2015 King 2341-Bach Corp. 24AW
    Olds O95 Sousaphone-King 26

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