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Sgt. Nate Morris, Drum and Bugle Corps snare drummer, practices new music Jan. 18. With the new year comes new music and preparation for the National Installations Tour, which begins in March, when the D&B will travel to numerous Marine Corps installations across the country to perform.

Photo by Cpl. Jeremy Ware

The D&B earns back their chops in preparation for a new season

19 Jan 2012 | Cpl. Jeremy Ware

After performing in more than 450 ceremonies, including funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, in 2011, the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps at Marine Barracks Washington received some much needed rest.

But with the calendar rolling into 2012, Crawford Hall, home to the D&B since 1934, is buzzing with excitement about the new year. The blaring sounds of bugles fill the halls as the Marines learn new music and spend countless hours in their practice rooms earning back their “chops.”

There is nothing more valuable to a musician than having strong lips, a high lung capacity or strong arms to continuously play their instruments. Musicians call these attributes chops. If a musician goes an extended period of time without playing, their chops become weak, explained Sgt. Julie Moses, D&B mellophone bugler. It works the same for a body builder. If they don’t work out for a while, they become weaker and can’t perform at their peak level.

During the month of January the unit spends four grueling weeks strengthening their musical muscles before departing to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. In Arizona they will spend an additional month learning new music and marching routines. During this time D&B Marines spend an average of 120 hours or more each week perfecting their skills.

“We go to Yuma to make sure we are focused on the task at hand, learning new music and drill. Then performing that drill,” said Cpl. Austin Williams, D&B percussionist. ”We interact with the local communities around Marine Corps Installations, letting them know what we do at the Barracks.”

The D&B will start their National Installations Tour in March, traveling to numerous Marine Corps installations across the country to perform.

“The closer we get to tour, the crazier it gets,” Williams said. “We have to figure out what we need to take on the tour on top of learning the new music for this year. It gets really busy.”

With the D&B Marines staying busy earning their chops, learning music and planning for a full year of music, there is an excitement around the building that only this time of year can bring.

“I’m extremely excited to get back underway,” Williams said. “This is what I live for, this is my dream job. All I have to do every day is wake up, go to work and live and breathe music, and that’s it.”