Competitive drumlines go far beyond what was portrayed by Hollywood in the Drumline movies. It is a whole different take on the concept of teamwork. In competition, drumlines are evaluated on how well the individual musicians play together as one unit…if there is a line of 10 snare drummers, they must move, play, and sound as one. Research has shown that marching drummers can possess the same level of physical conditioning as world class athletes in addition to taking on the demands of memorizing music and the rush of performing before an audience.
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were several small marching units in each major city in the east bay. Oakland had the Imperials Drum and Bell Corps, San Leandro had the Royal Family Marching Units (Red Knights Drum and Bell Corps, Royalaires Drum and Bugle Corps, and Baton Units), San Lorenzo had the Blue Angels Drum and Bell Corps/Baton Units), Union City had Los Companeros Drum and Bell Corps/Baton Unit, Milpitas had the South Bay Barons Drum and Bell Corps, and San Jose had the Rebel Cadets Drum and Bell Corps. All of those corps competed as members of the California Drum and Drill Association and served as training grounds and feeders for the larger National Champion Drum and Bugle Corps in the bay area, namely the 6 time world champion Santa Clara Vanguard and 18 time world champion Concord Blue Devils (www.scvanguard.org www.bluedevils.org ). Although the small corps folded many years ago, The Vanguard and Blue Devils still exist today as multi-million dollar non-profit organizations that are furthering the marching music art form and taking it to new heights. They draw their membership from the local high schools but, in the last decades, have gotten so big that they draw as much as 25% of their members from around the nation and around the globe. Budget cuts in many school districts impact music programs especially hard and are often the first programs to get reduced. While only highly funded / supported schools are able to have music programs, many students in “not so well funded” schools are left with desire but no opportunity to participate in such an activity.
The Rhythm Cadets are starting with just drums and percussion but hope to grow to include other instruments as well. As we rekindle awareness and appreciation of the drum corps activity in the east bay public, we will strive to provide young people with positive life experiences that can impact them forever.