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Submitted by John Rendleman on Wed, 06/11/2008 - 10:47pm.

Every summer the high-energy Spirit Drum & Bugle Corps competes across the country. These young people are all talented musicians -- incredibly motivated and dedicated to attaining a remarkable level of performance excellence. Every summer Spirit competes with other drum corps in what some describe as an intense graduate level marching music experience. One of the spirit's newest members is from Leland. Sixteen-year-old Aaron Benton auditioned last month at the urging of North Brunswick band director Mark Riel. For the Spirit this summer he'll be playing a euphonium. Ironically, Aaron has never played a euphonium. "What I'm playing I'm going to have a lot of struggles with it. I'm used to playing a smaller instrument," said Benton. Spirit members range in age from 16 to 21. They practice 10-12 hours a day, perform at night and sleep as they go. Typically they sleep on high school gymnasium floors as they travel from town to town. One thing's for sure, Aaron Benton is surrounded by motivated young people working as a team towards a goal. You'll find that in every group in the Drum Corps spectrum. But, two years ago, who would have guessed Aaron would be in drum corps? He got into trouble with the law and he had to spend 10 months at Camp Eagle in Elizabethtown to get straightened out. Aaron's mother credits Camp Eckerd and North Brunswick band director Mark Riel for the dramatic turnaround. "Even though that bad road has happened we've gone done it, we've had our struggle, but look what the good come out. There are the ones that can turn it around and make that accomplishment," she said. And Aaron's summer with Spirit will certainly prove to be another life changing event.

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