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Music major Coscolluela a part of world championship-winning drum corps

Garrett Coscolluela

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — For the past four years, Austin Peay State University senior music education and music performance double major Garrett Coscolluela has spent one weekend in August marching on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. But it wasn’t until this past August — in his final trip to the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts — that Coscolluela had the hardware to prove he was among the best in what’s considered the major leagues of marching band performance.

Coscolluela recently completed his first — and only — season as a member of the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps, considered one of the premier competitive junior drum and bugle corps in the country. Members of Drum Corps International (DCI), the governing body for junior drum and bugle corps, the Blue Devils are one of 46 performing groups in the U.S. and Canada that cross the country, performing at exhibitions and competitions, as well as offering clinics for students and educators.

In August, Coscolluela — a euphonium and trombone player — and the Blue Devils competed at the DCI World Championship. The most decorated team in DCI history, the Blue Devils again found themselves on top of the drum corps world, capturing their 18th gold medal in front of a record crowd of 23,342 onlookers.

“The energy on the field (during his corps’ final performance) was electric and it was the best show the corps had all summer,” Coscolluela said. “After the show, others around me were overwhelmed and emotional knowing that it was the last time that group of people would perform that show ever again. Near the end of the awards ceremony, our closest competition, was announced as the winner of the silver medal and it was then we knew that we had won.”

Like many of their rival squads, August’s world championship was the culmination of over six months of auditions, practice, performance and grueling travel for the 150-member Blue Devils team. For Coscolluela, his Blue Devils journey began in November, 2016, with a first audition in Dallas, Texas. Coscolluela had performed for three years with a rival corps, but the Austin Peay senior said he wanted to audition for the organization’s premier group in his final year of eligibility.

From his initial audition in November, Coscolluela said he received a call back for a second audition in January at the corps’ headquarters in Concord, California. It was then that he received word he had been accepted onto the circuit’s premier team.

“Getting results at the end of the callback seeking in January was thrilling and relieving,” Coscolluela said. “I had planned to audition for the Blue Devils since July and the two months between November at my initial audition and January were stressful. The competition that weekend was stiff; for my instrument, there were 16 callbacks competing for five spots, many of the other callbacks having multiple years of prior experience just like me.

With its roster set, the corps rehearsed throughout February, April and May before hitting the road for a 28-date, seven-week tour beginning in California and finishing in Indiana, stopping to perform along the way in Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.

With a cross-country tour at its end — and with his corps’ goal of a world championship reached — Coscolluela said the moments following the Blue Devils’ gold medal-winning performance are something he’ll carry with him for the rest of his life.

“The winner of (the world championship) is given the privilege of performing a "victory run" of their show after the other corps have exited the field,” Coscolluela said. “The encore performance was some of the most fun I've ever had doing anything, as the Blue Devils enjoyed a celebratory performance…there were smiles, laughter, cheers and screaming throughout the show.”

A 2014 graduate of Beech High School in Hendersonville, Coscolluela said the draw of Austin Peay’s music program, as well as the opportunity to perform with the University’s Governor’s Own Marching Band (GOMB) sold him on the decision to stay close to home for college.

The lessons he learned as an undergraduate and member of GOMB, Coscolluela said, served him well with the Blue Devils — and will continue to serve him as he helps train the next generation of drum corps members through his budding teaching career and work with Clarksville High School’s marching band.

“I’m thankful to have spent two years with GOMB and to have been a part of the most visible extension of Austin Peay’s Department of Music,” Coscolluela said. “The band balances having fun and doing its job well, and I credit the way (Austin Peay director of athletic bands) John Schnettler structured its operations. He allows GOMB members and student leadership to be in control of their own experience and enjoy band in a different, more relaxed way than many have experienced during high school.”

For more information about Austin Peay’s Department of Music, visit www.apsu.edu/music. To find out more about the Governor’s Own Marching Band, visit www.apsu.edu/music/gomb.