After a five-year hiatus, the Drum Corps International (DCI) competition is back in Glens Falls on Saturday, July 21, and you have Glens Falls Music Academy to thank for its curtain call. Billed as the Glens Falls Music Academy Showcase, the event will feature drummers, brass musicians and costumed color-guard performers all marching in time to elaborate, fast-paced choreography and competing for entry into the DCI World Championship Finals in Indianapolis on August 11.
For those unfamiliar with the DCI, it’s basically the major leagues for marching bands and marching-related music—and the finals, its World Series. (Ever seen Drumline with Nick Cannon? That’s what we’re talking about). In all, four different drum corps from Michigan, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New Jersey will compete for a spot at championship finals.
Bringing Drum Corps back to Glens Falls is a major coup for the Academy, which has been in business for more than a decade. (Prior to 2013, the Fort Edward Lions Club had hosted the competition for three decades.) Located on Harrison Avenue in Downtown Glens Falls, the Academy’s home to 25 instructors who teach classical music, rock, folk, R&B, jazz and musicals (and everything in between) to approximately 140 students per week. Glens Falls Music Academy was established with only three lesson rooms and a handful of teachers in April 2007, just a few months shy of the Great Recession. “It wasn’t the best time to open a new business,” says Reed. “But we got through it.” Now, two major renovations and four additional lesson rooms later, Glens Falls Music Academy has grown tremendously. Besides lessons and recording, the Academy now offers various summer camps like Campapella and Ukulele Camp, a stringed instrument rental program through Vermont Violins (which has gained tremendous popularity in Glens Falls and Queensbury schools over the past 18 months). The Academy also hosts various jazz ensembles and instrument clinics, and most recently, a preschool music program for children ages 1-6 called Niki’s Little Maestros.
The Academy also encompasses a professional recording studio and has recorded many local artists, such as Forthlin Road, Ben Miller & Anita MacDonald and The Radium Girls, with its owner and founder, Chris Reed, sitting in as sound engineer—and occasional studio drummer when a band needs one. “Just ten years ago, if you lived in Glens Falls or Queensbury and wanted to record a few songs or even just have access to a selection of quality music lessons under one roof, you probably had to drive 20 minutes down the Northway to Saratoga Springs,” says Reed, a self-described “fifth-generation townie.” “There were some music stores where you could get guitar lessons in a room in the back. But there wasn’t anything like this.” Having grown up in Glens Falls, Reed tells me he always had a vision to offer a place in the community for musical growth and enrichment. “For ten years now, we’ve been trying to drag the culture up the Northway a little bit at a time,” he says.
The return of the Drum Corps International competition will only help further Reed’s vision for the community. He’s hoping to draw 1,700 fans to East Field, which can accommodate up to 2,700. Reed says bringing back the DCI competition next year will be contingent on how many tickets are sold, so make sure to go out and support the Academy, DCI and your favorite marching band on July 21 at 7pm. Tickets cost $18-$25, and can be purchased either online or at the Cool Insuring Arena’s box office at a discount.