Found passion for band performance at DHS
Aaron Cohen recalls joining the Pride of Destrehan Marching Band as a freshman in high school and having no idea the passion it would go on to inspire within him.
“I really got in band to kind of just join an activity in high school,” recalled Cohen, now 19. “But everyone who came through and taught me inspired me to want to be better … I realized there I really loved being a performer.”
That love of musical performance has led the Norco resident and University of New Orleans student to the mile high air of Denver, Colorado, where he’s earned the honor of being part of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, a World Class competitive junior drum corps that tours the country competing against other high caliber drum corps.
The Knights were founded in 1958 and compete annually for the DCI Championship. Last year, the elite team named 42 members to its ranks, which should closely mirror the final number of the 2019 squad.
Cohen auditioned in November and landed a spot, where he’ll be primarily playing the euphonium. He’s been traveling to Denver each month to prepare with the group for its summer tour of competition, which will span May 19 to Aug. 10.
“I was absolutely over the moon,” said Cohen of learning he’d made the cut. “I was completely excited. It’s a chance to improve myself more and be part of a like-minded organization where everyone wants to push themselves to be even better.
“It’s been fantastic. I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve been there. The staff’s incredibly nice and I’ve already learned so much.”
He said he wants to make the 85-day tenure count, and he’s not alone.
“With a high school band, you have a lot of people who are driven, and then some who are kinda like I was at first, just there just to be there,” Cohen said. “When everyone’s working toward a common goal, it really helps the mentality. And we still have fun and enjoy the ride. But when we’re in the middle of rehearsal and they call us to fall back in line, it’s like a switch goes off and everyone’s back to work.”
“When you have a group of 150 dedicating themselves to this and conveying one message, someone in that crowd is going to feel something they never have before.” – Aaron Cohen
But he says that for him, this all started at Destrehan High, where the school’s renowned band did some pretty special things of their own.
Cohen recalled specifically a performance called “I’m an American Soldier,” that made him realize this all meant just a little more to him.
“During the performance, the story takes you through the stages of (the soldier’s) recruitment, war, loss and then redemption … it made me realize I could be part of something bigger, with a group of people speaking to this entire crowd in front of me, through our performance.
“When you have a group of 150 kids dedicating themselves to this and conveying one message, someone in that crowd is going to feel something they never have before. And that’s the part of it I love the most.”
While he’s a film student primarily at UNO, he said he definitely wants to devote time to helping to teach band in the future. It’s done much for him, and not just during performance.
“It’s helped me be more confident in who I am,” Cohen said. “I was a very reserved child. Once I was in band, the next four years I constantly had people to talk to, friends … it helped me find myself. And so with (the Blue Knights), to find that outside of the high school environment, I’m meeting so many people and making connections. Down the line, if I want to teach somewhere, there are so many people I can reach out to.”
He said he wants to pass on what he learns in Denver to others.
“I want to be able to bring them as much information as I can from a world class staff like the Blue Knights have. And hopefully, I can inspire them to go on to do what I’m doing down the line,” he said.
- Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps
- Founded in 1958 and established as a World Class competitive junior drum and bugle corps.
- Based in Denver, Colorado.
- Have placed top 10 in the Drum Corps International Championship competition in each of the past eight years, most recently for its 2018 performance titled “The Fall and Rise.”