The Colts are a drum and bugle corps from Dubuque, Iowa, the smallest city nationally to host a Drum Corps International World Class drum corps. Founded in 1963, we have had four names and thousands of members. In our most recent history, we have become a championship corps, placing in the Top 12 at DCI Finals eight times. We are also only one of three corps to support a feeder corps, the Colt Cadets, which is open to students ages 11 - 17 who live primarily in Dubuque and the tri-state area.
The Colts are comprised of 154 members, 40+ staff, and hundreds of volunteers who all care deeply about this activity. Membership comes from all over the nation and overseas. We begin rehearsals and auditions in November, meeting one weekend a month, for a rehearsal “camp” until June, when we go on tour until mid-August.
Anyone in grade 9 through age 21 with the desire and drive to achieve success without bounds may audition. The average age is 19. Anybody from a seasoned musician to a high school woodwind player can find their spot in drum and bugle corps.
We are limited to three components: brass, percussion, and color guard. Each of these captions is further divided into sections. Adding these three captions together plus our two drum majors gives us the maximum World Class sanctioned member limit of 154.
First, fill out the request for information. You will receive more information on membership and the audition process soon afterwards.
The second step is auditioning at an audition camp. You will perform for staff individually and with your section. After attending your first camp, you will probably know if this activity is for you. Most people will get an invitation to come to a second audition camp. After your second audition, you will receive a membership contract or an invitation to come back and audition next year.
If you are invited to join, you will have until the next camp to decide and return your contract. If you return your contract, CONGRATULATIONS!, you are a member of the Colts family, an experience you will never forget!
Immediately following our Memorial Day performance in Dubuque, we start Spring Training. This is where we learn the majority of our show, though it is revised and constantly changing all summer. We spend about one week at a school, rehearsing and performing for the town, before moving on to the next site. We travel to three to five rural tri-state communities in a four week period.
After Spring Training is over, we begin our touring season. This stretch of the summer can take many forms. Some years, we stay in the midwest area. Some years, we may venture to the northeast and down to Florida. Other years we may head west to California. Throughout our national tour, we meet East and West Coast corps and travel extensively. We will attend and compete in DCI shows during this time, but will also devote several days to continued practice in order to perfect our program. DCI tour lasts about six weeks and includes performance venues such as TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the Alamodome in San Antonio, and the Mercedes Benz Dome in Atlanta.
Championships Week begins in mid-August and takes up the remainder of the season. The corps is in one location for Championships Week, performing two to three nights in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. After Finals on Saturday night, members return home for the summer. Many go back to school within a week or a few days.
The summer is very demanding, but enjoyable. The members you stand and march next to all season long are there to lend their support and will become some of your best friends. It's not just about the performance, and scores – it’s about discovering who you are, where you can go, and what you are capable of. What you learn on and off the field will shape your personality and lead you to new places.
The 30 - 38 member percussion ensemble is comprised of two sections: the battery and front ensemble. This is the most selective of the captions with over one hundred students trying out for a handful of open positions. The battery is the marching percussion: marching snares, tenors (or quads), bass drums, and cymbals. They are the rhythmic interpretation of the mood. The front ensemble, or "pit," is the melody of the drumline. The pit consists of the "grounded" instruments including bells, marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, and timpani.
The 30+ member guard is mixed male and female unit who integrate flags, rifles, sabers, and dance into the show. They are multi-talented and add a colorful visual to the music and drill. The guard staff writes all their work from scratch and teaches it to the members as it is written in a 3-4 week period. They provide interpretation to the music through their work, expression, and emotion.
In the Colts, our drum majors are selected by the staff from current membership. It is a position that carries a heavy responsibility within the corps. Not only are they responsible for conducting the show, but also various leadership tasks and roles on and off the field.