Drum Corps. What is it?

To the uninitiated drum and bugle corps is very difficult to explain. At first glance, many comparisons can be made to a marching band, but if you look deeper, you will find significant differences. The instruments are different, the performances are more daring, the schedule more intense, and the competition is fierce!  A drum corps is a marching musical unit, independent of high school or college affiliations. It is a private, non-profit group that exists solely for the enrichment of its members. It provides life-long friendships, vivid memories, and great pride in a group effort.  Drum corps season usually starts on Memorial Day and continues with a series of performances and competitions that lead up to nationals, held on Labor Day weekend. But, that’s only the public’s view.  Many of the questions you may have about drum corps, and Highland Regiment in particular, are answered on the following pages.

What makes your group unique?

Highland Regiment draws its inspiration from the musical and pageantry traditions of the Scottish highlands, striking landscapes that have influenced the culture of that area for centuries. Stirring melodies and raucous rhythms combine with stalwart characters to create iconic memories known worldwide. It is these icons that we reference with our sound and image.  We wear touches of tartan on our updated uniform and play traditional bagpipe melodies in parades and at key moments in our competitive program. We carry a Scottish flag, too, in our American flag section.  The differences don’t stop there. We feel that members benefit from training for the stage. We take rehearsal time to encourage improvisation and self-confidence. We will work on scenes and help each member to develop a presence that will serve them on the drill field as well as in school or business. We want our members to develop as people and as performers.  We are located in lovely Somerset County, New Jersey, where the landscape is reminiscent of those highlands overseas. We hope our performances recall those breathtaking locales and the traditions they inspired.

Do I have to be really good?

Well, no, not really, but you must be willing to take instruction, work hard at rehearsals, and practice at home. Group success depends on each individual member performing at his or her best. You know the adage about the weakest link? That applies here, too.  Our instructional staff study their own disciplines, brass, percussion, guard equipment, dance, or movement. They also have training in education. They learn how others learn. Rehearsals will be fun, focused, meaningful, and motivating!  Excellence in performance is the by product of excellence in rehearsals!

How much do you practice?

During the winter and spring months we plan to rehearse one weekend per month, Saturday and Sunday. Brass and percussion members will use these “camps” to develop a uniform playing technique and learn the score to the show.  Guard members will meet for Open House weekend in December, but not again until Spring Training.  In May we start to rehearse three week-ends per month and continue that schedule through Labor Day and national champion-ships.

Who runs Highland Regiment?

The drum corps is run by our director and an administrative team. They bring decades of experience to the table and work diligently for all aspects of our group to function successfully, on the field and off.  We are forming a parents and friends group to support members and help with long-term planning and fundraising. Parents, or anyone interested in contributing energy or ideas to the group, are encouraged to contact us.  We are an entity of Highland Arts, Inc. a non-profit group which supports performing arts programs for young and young-minded people in central New Jersey.  Where can I find out more?  E-mail us at: highlandregiment@gmail.com.

What will we play?

For brass musicians, you can play your own band instrument or one of ours. We have a full set of percussion instruments on hand for drummers and front ensemble members. Guard members and dancers will have equipment provided to them.

Does it cost a lot?

Dues will reflect the value of the instruction, travel, meals, uniforms, and equipment we provide. We hope to provide a meaningful and competitive experience to our members for as little as possible. Travel plans for next season are still in the works so a firm cost per member is not available right now.  We can, however, make the most of our budget by carpooling to local shows, asking members to plan ahead for their own lunches, and searching for sponsors and supporters.

Can my parents come?  

What if they have questions?

Yes! In fact, if you’re under 18, we’ll insist that you have your parent or guardian permit you to participate. Some of our travel plans include shows out of state. We’ll be sure to keep your family aware of where you are and when you’ll be home.  Also, we’ll need plenty of volunteers to help with driving, fitting uniforms, selling souvenirs, making and moving props, and just helping out. We’ll need chaperones for bus trips and a crew with water bottles for longer parades. If your parents have questions they may contact our director.