Raptors host top corps
Members of the East Ridge High School marching band had the opportunity of a lifetime this month as they were host to the nation's top drum corps.
On Friday, July 16, the Blue Devils Drum Corps practiced and stayed overnight at East Ridge High School in preparation for their Saturday performance at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
A community drum corps based out of Concord, Calif., the Blue Devils are known as one of the most prestigious and successful outfits in the drum corps world, said East Ridge band director Chris Tank, who participated in drum corps while he was in high school and college.
Tank found out about the Drum Corps International event taking place July 17 at TCF Bank Stadium and reached out to send an invite to host any of the groups that would be performing. The Drum Corps International obliged and asked if Tank had a preference which corps his school would like to host.
"The Blue Devils have been my favorite since I was growing up and participating in drum corps," Tank said. "These guys are so respected for what they do. They just have this old school percussion style that emphasizes the basic skills and importance of timing and precision.
"I knew it could present an amazing opportunity for learning for our kids."
Members of East Ridge's marching band attended the Friday practice session while the East Ridge marching band booster club arranged the high school gymnasium, where the Blue Devils members slept in sleeping bags overnight.
"It's a pretty remarkable opportunity," said Kristie Scherber, a parent of an East Ridge marching band member and booster club volunteer. "The Blue Devils travel all over the country and many times local schools will host them and let them crash in their gym overnight before a performance. That's what they do."
July 16 proved to be a hot and steamy day for drill and field practice, but the Blue Devils trudged through the elements at East Ridge's football stadium before being treated to a meal provided by the East Ridge marching band booster club.
The next day, the drum corps, which won the 2009 Drum Corps International championship, boarded their team bus and drove to Minneapolis to perform at a Drum Corps International event with other well-known drum corps.
Tank said he hoped the connection his marching band members had with the Blue Devils could serve as inspiration for a relatively new musical outfit.
"When you see a group get together and play music perfectly and with enthusiasm, it creates a lot of excitement," Tank said. "It's an incredible experience. And if our kids can take what they witnessed and apply that type of energy, we will see the results."