The Optimists Alumni Drum &
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
. . . March On!
Interested In Joining Us?
Coming to a rehearsal?
- If you're thinking of coming out, please contact
Mike Lang (mike.lang at sympatico dot ca) for more information
- To verify rehearsal times and locations please check out our Combined Schedule page.
Things you might want to know
- The Optimists Alumni is an all-ages, self-supporting, non-competitive drum & bugle corps which had its first performance in
September of 2003.
- Our performances fall into three categories:
- a field drill (marching and playing),
- parades (our main source of revenue) and
- indoor concerts.
- While we prefer members who are over 18 we will, under special circumstances, allow younger members to join.
What is a Drum & Bugle Corps?
- A Drum and Bugle corps (often shortened to "Drum Corps") is a musical marching unit (similar to a marching band) consisting
of brass instruments, percussion instruments, and a colour guard.
- At present, our Brass Line uses 3-valved, "G" bugles. The instruments used are: Soprano (trumpet), Mellophone (similar
to a marching French Horn), Baritone (valve trombone) and Contrabass (tuba).
- Our percussion section consists of Snare, Tenor, Quads and Bass drums as well as Cymbals.
Who are our members
- Our members vary in age from their twenties all the way to the late seventies
- Our membership includes representatives from over forty different corps and bands! To find out which corps and bands are represented
you can visit the Our Members Marched With page. This page points to photos and write-ups
for some of the corps with which our members marched (other pages will be added in the future). In addition, the
Our members marched with section of the Photo gallery
contains photos of many of these corps.
- Our members enjoy playing music, entertaining others and the camaraderie of friends who share some of their interests.
- Many of our members once marched in competitive corps. Marching with us is a way to keep the passion alive without the physical
and time commitments required in a competitive corps.
We are looking for
- marching members in all sections
- Horn line: Soprano (trumpet), Mellophone (similar to a marching French Horn), Baritone, Contrabass (tuba)
- Drum line: Snares, Tenors, Bass, Quads, Cymbals
- Colour Guard: Flags, Rifles
- support staff (equipment, first aid or medical, copy writing, media relations, photography, drivers, etc)
- playing members who are prepared to make a commitment to practice at home and attend a majority of the scheduled rehearsals
- those who are able to meet our inexpensive yearly dues
What are the musical requirements?
- Previous experience is NOT required.
- Don't worry about your skill level. At whatever level you start,
you'll improve. That's what happened with us! The majority of our members have never had formal musical training.
In addition, when the Alumni Corps started, many of us had not played
in 30 or 40 years. The "noise" at the beginning has become a sweet, balanced sound. We've certainly come a long way! Yes, it has
taken a lot effort; however, with the help of our excellent instruction staff, it's been very rewarding. And it’s been fun!
Warning: this could happen to you.
Our membership consists of individuals who
- are willing to learn, to contribute and to grow musically, regardless of their starting point
- have rudimentary music reading skills or are willing to develop them
- are prepared to make a commitment to practice at home and attend the scheduled rehearsals
What training is provided?
- Our horn and drum instructors are professional music educators. They include: Dave MacKinnon, Jamie Oatt and Jeff Mackay. For
more information about our instruction staff, please visit the Our Instruction Staff page.
- Horn rehearsals begin with a warm-up which is really a mini group lesson. During this time there will be breathing practices
as well as exercises designed to develop and improve articulation, tone and range.
- These exercises cover the fundamentals of playing a horn. In addition, they give the corps member some actual experience and,
often, feedback from the instructor. It is up to the individual to incorporate these lessons into their practice at home.
- Often private lessons can be arranged; however, arranging such lessons and the cost of these lessons is the responsibility of
the corps member.
Rehearsals and Performances
- We know that you want time for family and other obligations so
our rehearsal schedule is light. We usually have two Sunday rehearsals each month. They normally start at noon and end around 4:30 pm
- When we are learning our drill, we will occasionally have a weekend rehearsal
- Indoor rehearsals are held at various locations. Please visit our Combined Schedule page
to learn the dates and locations of our rehearsals as well as directions to those locations.
- We expect that members will do their utmost to attend the scheduled rehearsals
- We expect members to practice at home, between rehearsals
- We expect members to know their music when they come to rehearsals. Usually our members use Scorch files when they start to
learn their music. In case you're wondering, Scorch files are a web-based tool that allows one to listen to music and, if desired,
slow down or speed up the playback. The Scorch files on our website include complete scores
as well as individual parts for all of our music.
- We expect that members will endeavour to attend all scheduled performances
- We hope our members will have fun and enjoying playing with us
- If you would like to attend a rehearsal, please visit our Combined Schedule page to learn
the dates and locations of our rehearsals
What does a typical season look like?
- Our season usually begins in late September, with our Annual General Meeting. The season normally ends with the annual Drum
Corps Associates (DCA) Alumni Show which occurs on the Labour Day weekend.
- From October to April we usually have two rehearsals month. During these rehearsals we will focus on refining the music which
we will continue playing and learning new music which we are planning to use during the coming year.
- November is Santa Claus Parade time. Since we are self supporting, the revenue from these parades constitutes a major part of
our income. Organizers often have financial penalties for small groups. This means that it is very important that members make themselves
available for these parades.
- Our outdoor drill performances are normally during July and August.
- In May and June we will probably have two weekend rehearsals each month. During this time we will learn the field drill that
we will perform during the summer.
- Our first indoor performances are usually in late April or early May.
Concerned about commuting?
- We have members who commute from various places, including the Ottawa, Peterborough, Sudbury, Belleville, Barrie and Kitchener-Waterloo
areas. Carpooling might be a solution.
What are the financial obligations?
- Yearly dues plus a small deposit for uniforms
- The cost of gas to and from rehearsals and local performances. Car-pooling is often used as a way to decrease costs.
- Perhaps once or twice a year we will take a longer trip which will necessitate a stay in a hotel. Members will often share rooms
to decrease their expenses.
Why should I join the Optimists Alumni?
- We enjoy it and we think that you will, too.
- Of course, you'll also have an opportunity to learn musical
skills or further develop those that you already have
- and you'll be entertaining others while traveling and making new friends.
- Attending a rehearsal is a great way to get a feel for what we do. Why not come to a rehearsal?
The dates and locations of our rehearsals are posted on our
Combined Schedule page.
How can I become a member or find out more?
- Call or email us with any questions you may have. We always look forward to connecting with people who have an interest in Drum
Corps. You can also sign up at at a rehearsal or at the Recruiting booth that we have at shows. Please feel free to contact us and
express your interest.
- To get a close-up look at us, you are always welcome to attend one of our rehearsals. The dates and locations of our rehearsals
are posted on our Combined Schedule page. While at the rehearsal, if you're interested, you can fill
out our sign-up/interest forms located there.
- Please feel free to give us a call, write or, e-mail any of the management or staff of the Corps.
- Send an email to Brian Adam, Recruiting Committee Chairman:
Brian Adam (info at optimists-alumni.org) for more information
- View our Information Brochure (Acrobat File)
- View our videos
Audio & Video Files
- Audio Files
- Video Slideshows
- Video Footage
- 1958 Toronto Optimists
- 1959 Toronto Optimists
- 1959 Preston Scout House
- 1960 Seniors in Hamilton
- 1961 Grape Festival Parade
- 1963 Toronto Optimists
- 1964 or 1965 Grantham on Parade
- 1964 Nationals Prelims
- 1964 or 1965 parade before
- 1973 rehearsal and
- 2004 Optimists Alumni: G.A.S.
- 2005 Optimists Alumni:
- 2007 Optimists Alumni: Rochester
- Optimists Alumni:
2007 Drum Solo and Concet
- 2008 Optimists Alumni: Off the Line
- 2009 Optimists Alumni: Off the Line
- 2010 Optimists Alumni (Buffalo,
August 8, 2010)
- 2012 Optimists Alumni (Oshawa,
Aug 25, 2012)
- 2013 Optimists Alumni
(Oshawa, Aug 17, 2013)
- 2016 Optimists Alumni (Burlington,
April 30, 2016)
- 2016 Optimists Alumni (Wilfred Laurier
University, Waterloo, May 15, 2016)
- 2016 Optimists Alumni at the
Waterloo Public Square (Waterloo, August 6, 2016)
- 2016 Optimists Alumni (Rehearsal
Run 1, Waterloo, August 6, 2016)
- 2016 Optimists Alumni (Rehearsal
Run 2, Waterloo, August 6, 2016)
- 2016 Optimists
Alumni warming up before Soundsport (Indianapolis, August 13, 2016)
- 2016 Optimists Alumni
at Soundsport (Indianapolis, August 13, 2016)
- YouTube Videos of the corps
- Contact or Book Us
- What's New?