Student Brings Drum Corps To Madison

August 8, 2018

When posed with the question “How did you spend your summer vacation,” most teens answer with sleeping or hanging out with friends, not planning to start one of the first DCI Drum Corps in Madison.

For junior Matthew Ballard, the mastermind behind The Huntsville Harmonic Drum & Bugle Corps, it is all about making a community where people in North Alabama can put their passion into practice outside of school.

“There are plenty of places to practice your passion, but music is usually overlooked. This would allow people to find a place to perform, do what they love, and learn about the marching arts outside of school,” Ballard said.

The Huntsville Harmonic will not be able to immediately become a drum corps though and Ballard has prepared for that.

“Right now, the Huntsville Harmonic is a work in progress DCI Soundsport group with the intentions of growing into a DCI Drum Corps group,” Ballard admitted.

He explained that Soundsport, while similar to Drum Corps, held some significant differences.

“Drum Corps are large, high budget, high production value groups with upwards of 150 members that keep a high tempo for an average of 12 minutes. They only allow people ages 16-22 and they’re similar to a regular marching band, but more.”

Soundsport groups are a bit different. They are open to all ages and tend to focus on entertainment through the music itself, without relying on props or formations. They have smaller areas to work with, but they offer groups ranging in size from five to upwards of 51 members a chance to compete without being demolished by groups that could be nearly 30 times their size.

A lot of time, effort, and funding are needed to make this dream a reality.

“In terms of time, it would take a year or more to get processed and get people interested; in terms of effort, it will take a mass amount of motivation and consistency to push through. Money is probably the biggest factor for if this can happen,” Ballard said, “Anyone can go out and get a business license, but not anyone can raise the money to start a drum corps”

Despite the difficulty of the task, Ballard is positive he can handle it and wants to let other people with big dreams and bigger plans know that anything is possible.

“No matter how many times you’re told that it can’t happen, it can. As soon as I told anyone, I was told it couldn’t happen.” Ballard said, “One of my favorite things to think about is that if you tell a small child that to become an astronaut, they have to complete high school, get a college degree, take a big test to see if they are qualified, and then they have to find someone to hire them; the child will normally say that ‘well, that’s only four things’. So never feel like what you want to do can’t be done.”

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