From the eyes of a Pacific Crest member

The field was hot, the sun beats down and the routine is challenging, especially while carrying a 37-pound tuba. Despite the intense heat and physical strain, senior Matthew Distante chose to spend his entire summer as such: attending 12-hour practices to train for Drum Corps.

Distante’s journey with band was different from most. He was originally placed in drama in sixth grade but transferred into band. After experimenting with various instruments, Distante discovered the tuba. With time, Distante became more of a principal player and joined Marching Band with the position of a marching tuba.

“Once I got in high school is when I really started to discover my passion for music,” Distante said. “I appreciate the the musicianship that goes into playing [the tuba]. Everyone thinks tuba players are just incredibly basic, but when you unearth that, you just realize how beautiful you can make an instrument sound.”

Distante travelled to over 20 states as part of Pacific Crest to compete in Drum Corps, a rigorous nation-wide drumline competition that takes up the most part of the summer. Since Drum Corps is non school-affiliated, Distante had to go through difficult auditions to qualify. He took the position of the marching tuba, and practiced with Pacific Crest for consecutive 12-hour rehearsal days called “all-days”.

“We rehearsed at Diamond Bar, which is a really nice high-quality stadium field. Days consisted of either travelling, eating, sleeping, practicing or performing. There’s nothing else. Your life for all of summer is band,” Distante said. “The only to describe [Drum Corps] is marching band to the extreme. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, considering how heavy the instruments were. But you just grow more accustomed to it, you learn to get stronger.”

To make the show more emotionally impactful, Pacific Crest adopted a theme of the union of America through the Transcontinental Railroad. Through the theme, Distante and his corp conveyed the hardships of being separated from a loved one.

“We were told to imagine someone we missed dearly, and we had to reach for that person. We had to display emotion, we had to imagine and give our all,” Distante said. “You get so into sometimes; I ended up tearing up because I thought about something really close to me when we were performing in finals night. That’s the kind of energy you need to display to the audience whenever you’re playing, whenever you’re not playing [and] when you’re performing.”

Distante and Pacific Crest performed as finalists at the Lucas Oil Stadium for the Drum Corps finals, along with 12 other finalists. Over 40,000 spectators watched as the finalists competed through showcasing their different routines.

“At the end of the day, after performing [at Lucas Oil Stadium], the rush of playing for 40,000 people is just amazing. It’s the experience of a lifetime,” Distante said. “It’s one of those things that just sticks with you throughout your life, [it] makes a huge impact.”

In the near future, Distante plans to compete in Drum Corps again, and hopes to qualify for higher-ranking corps. He has also made adjustments in his health maintenance habits, including going to minor physical therapy and getting in shape.

“You need to do a lot of pre-season working out, warming up and eating right; it’s really important. It’s a full-time commitment. It’s a really external thing, but if you want to make [improvement], you have to make it an internal thing,” Distante said. “I’ve become a stronger person [and] a much stronger player [both] physically and mentally.  I’m going to try again this year to do it. I just encourage [others] to think that marching band, music in general, the arts, Drum Corps [is] more than just walking around and playing notes. There’s really no words for it until you can experience it yourself.”

By Erica Chang, Staff writer
Photo by Jamie Chen