In today’s column we will cover alumni drum corps action. Or shall we say inaction? The last time the United States experienced this low level (zero) of drum corps activity was during World War 1! When the war was over, American Legion posts across the country formed drum & bugle corps using military surplus bugles and drums to keep patriotism at a high level. Esprit de Corps! Drum corps has been running strong for the last 100 years and hopes are that it will all come back soon!

But first: Welcome to the new and improved Masters of the Marching Arts. By way of introduction, several years ago the Drum Corps Czar was appointed by the powers that be, granting the Czar the authority to change rules as he sees fit for the betterment of drum corps activity. Decisions made by the Czar are implemented swiftly so that fans in the stands can enjoy the experience to a greater degree. Readers unanimously responded in the affirmative!


Sensing the average age of our readership might possibly be higher than we care to reveal, the Czar, over the years, has covered topics such as the use of amplification, vocals, other new instrumentation, overpowering synthesizers, and costumes vs. uniforms. The Czar will delve into such topics to an even greater degree in the 2021 season. But in 2020, with no fielded shows to reflect on, the column will implement no new legislation until we see what unfolds next season. There will be a “next season” will there not?

We’ll instead turn to cover another aspect of drum corps often featured here: the senior alumni circuit. You might recall that when the Czar isn’t busy with pen in hand, he can be found in the soprano section of the Hanover Lancers Senior Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps.

Hanover Lancers 2017

The senior alumni circuit’s 2020 season can be summed up in one symbol: *. One of the most bizarre developments among senior alumni corps this year is that the Hanover Lancers are celebrating their 100th anniversary! Imagine all the build up to the big 100th anniversary and all the corps has to show for it is a single asterisk in the record books!

The Lancers started winter rehearsals with new repertoire and possibly the largest numbers ever, including an enhanced color guard that included returning members from the competing years. One unintended consequence was that it was almost impossible to cram the corps’ group rehearsal into the Lyric Band Hall typically used for practice

The Lancers had been scheduled for all of their routine performances including local parades and standstills. They were also slated to appear in their own annual York indoor show at Penn State York and in the season ending America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration parade and indoor concert in Plymouth, MA. Missing these performances is a major letdown. But the corps will hit the reset button for next season and have a bang up 101st year, hopefully replicating the schedule that had been planned for this season.

Hanover Lancers
The Lancers’ horn, drum, and color guard sections have all resumed sectional rehearsals at their own discretion. At a recent horn sectional held on a member’s spacious lawn, the Lancers were really only a drum major away from having a respectable horn rehearsal. Hall of Famer Bob Zarfoss has been holding Lancers’ drum sectionals in his garage and basement for some time now with great progress. Zarfoss has a tremendous basement setup for drum sectionals including a drum table and mirrors for checking stick elevations, etc. This practice space rivals that of the West Point Hellcats.

Dave Wales of York, PA reports that the Reading Bucs Alumni have not yet had any rehearsals since things fell apart last winter. Dave, by the way, is one of those alumni chameleons who keeps more than one uniform in the trunk of the car. He plays in the Bucs Alumni as well as the Lancers, granting him a place to play nearly every weekend! Kent Pennell from the Caballeros Alumni reports there is no current activity there and none planned for the foreseeable future. That has to be a rough reality for a guy who has been with the Cabs since the early ‘70s.

Reading Buccaneers Alumni at Profiles in Music in 2019

As for the alumni activity in general, the Czar once wrote this about just why we continue to be involved: As long as we can physically do it, we want to keep on recreating the drum corps experience as we remember it from our competing days. With alumni corps, the members have the opportunity to relive the golden years while creating new memories at the same time.

The Czar invites you to submit your ideas for “change for the betterment of drum corps”; however the decisions of the Czar are final. No ideas will be considered without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball and Drum Corps TV Network, if it exists.