Brock Allen, a 2013 graduate of Brownwood High School, woke up Thursday morning inside Brownwood Middle School surrounded by 149 others. Allen, a member of Drum Corps International’s Pacific Crest, along with the rest of the marching drum and bugle corps, stopped in Brownwood for a rehearsal at Gordon Wood Stadium.
Thursday’s practice was part of a 53-day, 38-state tour the national organization makes yearly. DCI performers, instructors and volunteers arrived from Oklahoma at 7 a.m., slept for a few hours at the middle school and then made their way to the stadium parking lot for a fruit, muffin and cereal breakfast.
“I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of free time when all of this started,” Allen said, pointing out that the group would be leaving for Houston shortly after the Brownwood rehearsal.
Interested in music from a young age, Allen made the choice to put aside his saxophone in favor of a mellophone. The change was required as DCI is comprised of brass and percussion instruments and the saxophone falls into the woodwind category. After an intensive audition process, Allen, one of two Texans in the group, was selected to tour with the group.
Allen said he is still in awe of the opportunity of touring with DCI. “Being here is an amazing feeling. I am proud of this — proud of being part of this group.”
Allen’s DCI journey began in Los Angeles in early-June where he rehearsed for 10 days before starting the tour. Spending countless hours on the road and in different cities is a new concept for Allen, who has little travel experience. “It feels like a completely different life,” Allen said. “Sometimes, I have to take a moment to stop and think and remind myself ‘this is where I am at now.’”
The reputation DCI has earned, combined with personal goals, pushes the 18-year-old. “I want to be the best,” Allen said. “I don’t do things halfway. I want to be a part of the DCI excellence.”
Roughly one month into the touring schedule, Allen has already made the decision to audition for next year. DCI is open to those 15-21 and requires a yearly audition. “I definitely want to do this until I am 21,” Allen said.
Fresh out of high school, and being away from family and friends has been an adjustment. “I miss everyone at home,” Allen said. “Here, I’m like the new kid on the block.”
Once the tour is over, Allen will once again leave Brownwood. “I will be starting Texas Tech in the fall and majoring in music education,” Allen said. “I am pretty excited about it.”
As for sleeping on an air mattress in the middle school he attended? “It was definitely nostalgic.”