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Marching band members need to stay in shape, too

The Buffalo Sabres development camp brought big crowds to First Niagara Center this month, but those hockey studs aren’t the only young athletes who will come from far and wide to give it their best in Buffalo this summer.

Take the eight teams that will hit Ralph Wilson Stadium next weekend for the annual Drums Along the Waterfront Tour of Champions. Top high school and college band members from around the world clamber for a spot on these select 150-member teams – paying up to $3,000 to rehearse 10 or more hours a day – to compete in a series of contests leading to the Buffalo contest and the International World Championships the following week in Indianapolis.

“Some people describe these teams as marching bands on steroids or music marching’s major leagues,” said Jack Gaylord, 56, of Collins, an events planner, former physical education teacher and lead organizer for the Buffalo area tour stop from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 2. Order tickets online at

Q. Talk about the physical demands of being part of a drum corps.

They’re musical athletes. In order to do what they do, they have workout regimens. When you come to camp, it is so advanced, you’d better come in shape. … The first part of a show, their heart rate is over 200 beats a minute and they sustain that for 3 or 4 minutes. The end of the show is the same way. There’s another 3 or 4 minutes where their rate is that high.

Many of the corps have nurses who will travel with them, physical therapists. They’re athletes and they get injured, too. Some of the instruments they’re carrying are 40 to 50 pounds. It you put one on, you’d shake your head and say, “I can’t imagine how they fly around the field like they do.”

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: See a Tour of Champions band in action at