Drum Corps International or DCI is an organization that hosts major marching band events for corps in the United States and Canada, and accepts some of the highest level musicians. DCI corps consist of only brass, color, guard, and percussion.
Clay Roesler, a senior at Oklahoma Christian University, recently played vibraphone for the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps’ 2021 season, a corps that is a part of DCI.
During his participation in the Crossmen, there was a slight scheduling conflict and Roesler was later starting classes the fall semester.
Heath Jones, chair of the music program and a jazz music educator at Oklahoma Christian University, said Roesler “Clay wasn’t able to start in the fall semester with us [Oklahoma Christian University] he was like two weeks late.”
Roesler was first introduced to Drum Corps International by a former percussion director in high school who was also a part of the Crossmen as a member of the snare drumline. Roesler decided to follow in his director’s footsteps and participate.
“It was an opportunity to be like, if he did that, that is something that I could do,’” Roesler said.
Roesler first auditioned for DCI when he was a freshman in college but did not make it until three years later as a junior, but because of COVID-19 he was not able to participate in the season he was originally supposed to.
“I was originally contracted last year, but since COVID-19 hit, everything kind of went out of whack,” said Roesler. “They didn’t really have a season, but the organization decided to contract everybody back that were a part of the 2020 season and moved on from there.”
Jones said Roesler is a “fantastic musician.” Jones also said Roesler is “very accomplished and does [mallet instruments] very well,” and although Jones does not have a lot of personal experience with DCI, only going to a few shows, he does know the Crossmen were “very lucky to have him.”
Roesler also talks about the precautions he and others had to take while doing DCI in the midst of a pandemic. “ We had to wear masks on the bus… some of the rides were maybe four to six hours which was tough because sometimes people would be sleeping on the bus with their masks on.”
“One of the hardest things for me personally was not being able to go up and say hey to my family,” Roesler said.
“Sometimes we would be practicing on blacktop, so when the temperature was like 99° the blacktop would get to like 120°,” Roesler said. He went on to say “They [ the Crossmen staff] were really harping on us to drink three gallons of water a day, a lot of people lost weight because of it”
Roesler said the DCI meant a lot of things to him. “There were times when I didn’t even know If I wanted to audition because I didn’t know if I was going to do [music] after college.
Roesler is currently a student teaching at Mustang High School and will graduate this fall from Oklahoma Christian University with a degree in instrumental music education.