Beats, bugles and Bluecoats

Jake Page remembers seeing the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps perform in Pittsburgh with his father, and he recalls feeling the sound of the music while sitting in the stands. After that performance, the then 13-year-old Page decided he would someday join the corps.

Page, a junior music education major at Youngstown State University, finally made it: He spent the summer of 2011 as a Bluecoat. This past summer, Page and fellow YSU junior Sara Loney spent their break marching alongside more than 120 of their peers as part of the corps.

David Glasgow, executive director of the 40-year-old Bluecoats, said people from all over the world come to audition for the opportunity to be a part of the corps.

“We look for the best of the best in marching band performers,” he said.

The Bluecoats performed three to four shows during a normal week, Page said. On rehearsal days, they practiced all morning and then performed at night, but on non-performance nights, they practiced for nearly 12 hours a day.

Loney said that even though the long practices hurt and she often found herself thinking of how nice sitting in the air conditioning would be, she never had “an I’d-rather-be-doing-something-else moment.”

Although she’s still undecided about which direction she wants to take her music education, Loney said she believes her time spent with the Bluecoats staff will definitely help her develop an ability to teach and work with others.

“There is no way to live with 120 people for three months without learning how to work with them and cooperate. It’s give a little, take a little,” she said.

Another challenge involved the commitment that the show must go on, regardless of the weather. Over the summer, the Bluecoats found themselves putting on a show in the pouring rain.

“It was different because it was not the competitive side that we usually do. It was more fun, and [we] let it all go,” Page said. “It was fun to give the full emotion and to give it all to the audience.”

Both Page and Loney said they plan to audition for the Bluecoats next summer and continue to improve their musical abilities.

“Ultimately, the whole time you know what you are working for. You want to be there, and you want to be doing it … and it’s fun,” Loney said. “You can feel yourself getting better every day. It is enjoyable every day.”