GANADO – The constant tick of the metronome filled Indian Stadium during the month of June.

The Guardians Drum and Bugle Corps set up base camp at Ganado High School before starting their summer tour July 8. For two months, 150 high-school-aged students from across the country and around the world will participate, performing in a dozen marching band competitions.

The Guardians Drum and Bugle Corps started in 2013, and the group has grown from about 50 to 150, which is the maximum for what Drum Corps International allows. The style of performance is a hybrid with elements of traditional bugle corps, interpretive and hip hop dance, all built on a rubric to create a competitive routine.

Guardians director Johnathan Doerr said, “This year’s show “Unpeeled” features selections from a wide variety of styles and artists from orchestral pieces to ‘Suit & Tie’ by Justin Timberlake.”

Guardians captains and corps members will be constantly adjusting and relearning the show elements as they learn from the competitions, culminating with the Drum Corps International World Championship on Aug. 8 and 9 in Indianapolis.

Port Lavaca native Mason Wood, 17, is attending the camp for the first time this year. He was selected after attending a tryout weekend event in Baytown in February.

“It’s been a lot harder than I expected. I expected it to be pretty hard, but there are some days when you don’t want to get out of bed and your feet are hurting really, really bad and like, ‘I just want to go home,’” Mason said. “But you always find a way to get up and perform because you know what is coming. Me, personally, I’m ready for our first show. But there is a lot of work that has to come before then.”

While at base camp in Ganado, corps members and staff slept at the school and practiced from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week with only two hourlong breaks for lunch and dinner. Organizers could not estimate how many steps are in this year’s show but said it wasn’t unusual for any single corps member to walk eight to 10 miles a day just during rehearsal.

Doerr said the camp isn’t only about the music. It helps prepare both the teachers and students with skills that transition to college programs as well as teaching positions for those pursuing a careers in music education, he said.

Mason said, “This has definitely expanded my horizons in the music field; I’ve learned so many things – how to be a better musician, a better marcher and a better person in general. This is just a great experience for anyone who wants to do it.”

Evan Lewis is a photojournalist for the Victoria Advocate.

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