Drum and bugle corp rehearses at Frenship High School
As many Lubbock residents stay inside in air-conditioned comfort this July, a group of about 85 musicians has been meeting behind Frenship High School for rehearsals that start at 6 a.m. and go on until 10 p.m.
Yes. That would be 16 hours, minus breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And then at the end of a demanding day, they sleep on the FHS band room floors.
The musicians are members of GENESIS, a brand new drum and bugle corp based out of Edinburg in the Rio Grande Valley.
They are working toward their first season in the Drum Corps International in the open class division. Their first competition will be July 20 in Odessa at Thunder in the Desert. Their ultimate goal is competing in the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis in early August.
They will perform a Drum and Bugle Corps Exhibition Show at 7 p.m. Saturday at Frenship Middle School’s football stadium in Wolfforth.
GENESIS is performing a mix of historic Latin jazz with Western rock music. Director Chris Magonigal said the show has bits of Stan Kenton and big band Latin jazz with the sounds of rock groups like Tool and 311.
Magonigal said he has dreamed of starting a drum and bugle corps in Texas since he marched in one in the early 1990s. He attended Texas Tech and was a member of the Texas Tech Goin’ Band from Raiderland.
After years of owning several wireless stores in West Texas, including four in Lubbock, he decided to work to get back to his dream, and founded GENESIS with assistant director Aaron Sandoval on Oct. 1, 2009. Since then, he and several staffers have met with students on weekends during the school year and on a limited basis through June.
Operating out of the Rio Grande Valley area, Magonigal said many of the corps members come from the poorest areas in Texas.
“Those kids, they don’t get opportunities like this. Ever,” he said.
Each of the musicians has to pay about $1,100 for food, travel, buses and entry fees. They vary in age from 14 to 21, but the average age of the GENESIS members is 17.
Participating in a DCI competition could help open up scholarship opportunities, Magonigal said. About 40 percent of the musicians are already in college.
Four of the students have local ties. The drum major, Emily Roman, was recently a student at Texas Tech, while a new bass drummer was recruited from Lubbock High School. Two brothers from Frenship High School, Cody and Branden Quackenbush, joined the corps last week to help fill some vacancies left.
Because they are paying to take part in a drum and bugle corps, Magonigal said the musicians are “incredibly emotionally vested in this,” and work extremely hard.
The director said he hopes to recruit even more from Lubbock’s young musicians in the future.
“That’s our intent, to bring this to Lubbock every year,” he said.
Magonigal said as a first-year corps, GENESIS normally would not be allowed to compete in the DCI World Championships, but he said the group was allowed after DCI officials heard what they were capable of. The show the group is doing is pretty difficult, but he said the corps’ leadership decided to take a chance on the more complex show in order to challenge themselves.
“Our goal is to be world class in three years,” said Sandoval.
The musicians’ time at Frenship, where they arrived July 1, has been spent more on the music and less on the marching than Magonigal would like, due to the unusual rain driving them indoors recently.
“It’s hurting. We’re not outside as much as we want to be,” he said. “Musically, we’ve gone strides. So visually, we’re trying to catch up.”
Drum corps shows are generally more athletic than high school and college bands, so Magonigal said they wake each day and start doing physical training at 6 a.m.
Because they are often nearly running while carrying — and playing — brass instruments or drums, Sandoval said research has shown they often burn as much energy in a two-hour block as a marathon runner. One musician came in weighing more than 300 pounds, but has lost 45 pounds already.
“These kids are pretty much musical athletes,” said Sandoval.
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