Thursday 7 July, I take the car to the airport early. Normally this never happens, but just now there is a traffic jam due to a road accident. The clock is ticking and it is quite stressful. Upon arrival, I find my way through a crowded airport and squeeze myself between the people towards customs. I want to check in as quickly as possible! What I do not realise yet is that all the stress will melt away like snow in the sun. We are going to have four fantastic days in Slagelse in Denmark.

On Friday 8 July, I will have the opportunity to advise 18 marching show bands as an adjudicator for the drum majors. I will focus on the skills with the drum major stick, the quality of the drill, leadership and presence. There must be a clear chemistry between the drum major and the band, the picture must be right.

All bands give the best of themselves, it is wonderful to see, and the many spectators encourage them loudly. The musicians themselves however also encourage each other, it is heart-warming to witness. This marching competition takes place in the middle of the city and you can ask yourself if this is not the most wonderful competition to be held during the three days?

The Danish organisation (LGF) (and their great volunteers) have spared no effort for this grand event and the local show band from Slagelse has organized everything down to the last detail. The concert contests for brass bands, drum & flute corps, percussion ensembles and wind bands are held in a large hall. Do you know that the combination of pipe flutes and percussion ensembles produces surprising results?

In the evening, four bands take part in the free competition where creativity and out of the box performances are the rule. My special attention is given to Skive Garden who, with only seven musicians, brings a creative product and tells a story. A story that is created by the two drummers who only want to play solo but in the end decide to play together. Splendid and appropriate!

On Saturday evening there is a big party with a dinner and live music. This is a once in a lifetime experience. More than 800 musicians fraternise, young people have fun and the party is a great success! I find myself immersed in an atmosphere of positivity, enthusiasm and great solidarity between corps and musicians! Tomorrow is a new day and we will have to work hard and intensely at the show competition!

On Sunday, the stands in the Harboe stadium are packed. The sun is out again, ideal conditions to perform. We have heard and seen some wonderful things. Even with smaller corps you can make great things, as is proven here. The message is to keep on reinventing yourself. I have witnessed well-trained drum majors and have analysed them on several facets (skills with the mace, leadership and showmanship). Without exception, they all perform well and it is nice to see them at work. The drum major from Greve pipe garden shows a good balance between traditional performance and stage work (mimicry). The band from Slagelse performs with two drum majors (not an obvious choice) and manages to perform everything synchronously. A very young drum major can be seen at work with the band from Roskilde. The band resolutely chooses a different interpretation of the task in which the boy turns out to be a real performer with great showmanship. Moreover, the act is perfectly integrated into the show design. Holbaek Garden brings a high level show that is driven by the typical Danish drum major with quality, charm, flair and stick skill. The audience can be heard throughout the contest, encouraging all the corps. Wonderful!

As an adjudicator one gives feedback and advice to the corps and tries to play a role in improving quality, in developing talent. Two volunteers (lovely people) take us to the airport. When I fly home high above the clouds, I find myself in heaven and realise how much I have received from all the musicians as a jury member! I return with a backpack full of inspiration, motivation and drive. Thank you very much musicians. You are truly amazing!

Written by Geert Vanmaeckelberghe

Translation: Hans Kloppert
Photo: Holbaek Garden, Karsten Mellon

Geert Vanmaeckelberghe
Actief lid bij Showkorps WIK Oostende (van 1974 tem 2011) als muzikant, choreograaf, tamboer-majoor, bestuurslid / voorzitter stuurgroep drupershopi (drumbands, percussie ensembles, showkorpsen en pipe bands) VLAMO (Vlaamse Amateurmuziekorganisatie) , redactielid KLANKBORD magazine / docent en jurylid exercitie - tamboer-majoor / choreograaf / auteur handleiding "Klank, Kleur én Beweging" / Lid van de WMC adviesraad voor percussie - mars & showwedstrijden.