Regarding the Marching Arts

What are the marching arts?

The marching arts are a collective group of activities centered around the combination of music, performance, and dance. These activities include Drum and Bugle Corps, Winter Color Guard, Winter DrumLine, WGI Winds, DrumLine Battle, and SoundSport and are offered during the winter and summer by organizations overseen by Drum Corps International and Winter Guard International. Overall, the marching arts can be considered youth team activities where discipline, teamwork, and resilience is taught through the medium of competitive artistic performance.

What are the benefits of the marching artsl?

In a time where both scholarly music and athletics programs are being de-funded the marching arts provide access to both. Student members participate in hours of rehearsal every day, working to hone their abilities with their equipment, be that a musical instrument or color guard equipment.  Hand and hand with increasing their artistic abilities, students will also increase their athletic abilities through daily physical training designed to strengthen their bodies to not only ease the strain of performance, but lessen the chance of injury as well.

As performing arts ensembles, students receive training in performance, dance, equipment-based choreography, music, and artistic expression. As teams, students hone their abilities in goal-setting, teamwork, and resilience in the face of adversity.On tour, students are faced with an environment that causes them to quickly adapt to change, from small adjustments to music and choreography in pursuit of a higher score, to quickly solving problems created by weather, logistics, and the touring schedule.

A student that successfully completes a season with a marching ensemble will emerge, not just a better performer, but also a better person, having spent countless hours pushing their performance to the limit. The skills they gain as members will stay with them long after the season ends, and will ultimately make them more adaptable and resilient to life’s stresses. Plus, for many, they will make friends in this activity that will be with them for the rest of their lives.

What is a Drum and Bugle Corps (Drum Corps)?

A Drum and Bugle Corps is an outdoor performance ensemble consisting of percussion, brass, and color guard sections. Sharing common roots with marching band, Drum Corps began to develop as an activity as veterans returned from WWI and WWII and sponsored local units in their communities. As time passed these local units gradually grew more competitive and focused in their efforts, quickly becoming professional performance ensembles with elaborate shows and national tours.

Just like marching band, Drum Corps perform music while executing marching formations on the field, often adding showy visual effects and utilizing props. The main difference between Drum Corps and marching band is the instrumentation; while both Corps and marching bands use battery and front ensemble percussion, Corps do not utilize woodwinds and instead feature an array of brass instruments, primarily trumpets, mellophones, baritones, euphoniums, and shoulder-mounted tubas called contras. While Drum Corps do not field woodwinds it is not uncommon for woodwind players to learn a new instrument in order to participate in the activity.

What is Drum Corps International?

Drum Corps International (DCI) is the nonprofit governing organization that manages and oversees all competitive Drum and Bugle Corps. The main functions of the organization are the management of the DCI Summer Tour, the World Championships, and the adjudication process for the activity, including the drafting and application of the rules and the training of the judges.

Within DCI there are two main competitive divisions, Open and World Class. World Class is incredibly competitive and training intensive for its performing members, while Open Class is generally less competitive, with Open Class corps usually having less rehearsals and a shorter tour than their World Class counterparts.

For more information on DCI, please visit

What is Open Class?

Open Class is a division of Drum Corps International that serves to provide the complete Drum Corps experience at a level that is more accessible than World Class. Generally speaking, Open Class Corps are smaller and have a less intense rehearsal schedule than World Class Corps with the trade-off being decreased overall cost of participation. That said, Open Class Corps follow the same competitive rules and are scored on the same sheets as World Class Corps, and many World Class Shows also feature Open Class Corps. Over the course of the past few years, Open Class has continued to raise its competitive standards, with the top Open Class Corps pushing the boundary between Open and World Production Quality.

What are the age requirements to participate in a DCI marching ensemble?

At Arsenal, our age range is generally 15 to 21, or freshman in high school to college age. Younger students are welcome to audition, and students younger than 15 can be granted membership with approval from the Corps Director and their respective caption head.

You must be 21 or younger on June 1, 2018 in order to be eligible to march the 2019 season.

Regarding Participation in an APA, Inc. Ensemble

What are the requirements to be in an APA ensemble?

You must:

  • Be younger than 21 years old.
  • Be able to fulfill the financial requirements.
  • Be able to attend all rehearsals except for instances where you have a conflict that has been communicated and approved by the APA staff.
  • Be able to attend ALL performances.
  • Have fulfilled all outstanding obligations to APA/other DCI/WGI ensembles, included but not limited to outstanding tuition.
  • Successfully complete the audition process and be offered a contract.
If I owe money to another DCI/DCA/WGI group can I still participate?
No. All outstanding debts must be paid before you can become eligible to be in an APA ensemble.
How much time will I need to commit? What if I have a conflict?

You are required to attend every rehearsal if offered a contract for an APA ensemble. As a competitive organization it is paramount that we have every member available for every rehearsal, as our ability to rehearse effectively depends on having everyone present. An unexcused absence will result in the termination of your contract with APA.

This being said, part of the core philosophy of Arsenal Performing Arts is that school should come first, and if your school schedule conflicts with our rehearsals then your absence is permissible. All members will be asked to sign an attendance contract when offered a position in an APA ensemble and they will be asked to highlight any conflicts at that time. Failure to include a conflict in this contract and then further failure to alert our staff in due time is grounds for termination.

You may not under any circumstances miss a required performance and if you have a known conflict with a performance at the time of auditions you will not be offered a contract.

I’m in Middle School, but I’m interested in marching. Can I audition?
Anyone younger than 21 is more than welcome to audition, however, Drum Corps and Winterguard are both strenuous activities that require physical strength as well as mental acuity. While you are more than welcome to attend a clinic or our auditions, it is entirely at the discretion of the staff as to whether to offer you a position in one of our ensembles.

Regarding Arsenal Drum and Bugle Corps

Is Arsenal a DCI Drum and Bugle Corps?
Not Yet.  Arsenal has completed two years as a SoundSport Team.
What are the benefits of auditioning for the Corps?
Even if you do not end up marching with Arsenal, you will receive feedback from our staff regarding your audition and how you can improve as a musician and a marcher. Auditioning for Arsenal is the rough equivalent of spending an entire day practicing your instrument and simultaneously receiving immediate feedback from our staff on how to improve. Auditioning alone can go a long way in helping you improve as a musician and a marcher.

Regarding Arsenal Performing Arts, Inc.

Is APA Inc. a 501(c)3 non-profit?
Yes, and as such Arsenal has a Board of Directors, directors, and staff assigned to carry out the organization’s mission.
What organizations are under the APA umbrella?
Currently, Arsenal Drum and Bugle Corps is the only Arsenal Affiliate Program. We hope to add more Affiliate Programs in the near future!