Absolutely! I bet pantalaimonslabyrinth does as well (and other DCI synth players on Tumblr, he’s the only one I know that I can think of). I’m a few years removed from it all now, but I’m sure most of this still applies. In no particular order:
- Be flexible. The synth is a weird wildcard spot in drum corps still. You might get asked to make up your own version of an exercise written for mallet instruments, or you might have to play some auxiliary percussion parts, or they might give you a sampler and tell you to find some taiko drum sounds on it. Don’t ever say “I can’t do that”; at worst, your answer should be “Sure, I’ll give it a shot”.
- Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. Lots of piano players are really weak when it comes to tempo and rhythm, usually out of lack of experience playing in ensembles. Make sure you can play with an absolutely solid tempo yourself, but also be able to follow someone else. Very often, your role will be hierarchical - you play with the outside marimba, because they’re playing with the center marimba, who’s following the drum major.
- Do what the staff asks you, 110%. If someone tells you that, for example, you’re too slow at rehearsal letter D, then it’s better to overcompensate and be a little too fast next time than to do barely anything at all. Even if you’re worried about something else, like playing the right notes, when someone on staff gives you a correction about X, you better darn well fix X before you worry about Y.
- Stay in the game mentally. As a synth player, pretty often you’ll be sitting around doing nothing while the rest of the pit works on mallet technique, or some tricky run, or something like that. Different corps will have different attitudes on how okay it is for you to sit down, or look at your phone, but err on the side of not doing that stuff. And whenever it’s time for you to play again, you better be ready to go as if you’d never stopped. Don’t take 3 or 4 reps to wake up and start playing well again.
- Learn the music for the rest of the pit. Especially if your part is fairly easy, it’s a good use of your time to be able to play the rest of the music the pit is playing. I mentioned some ensemble listening responsibilities earlier - if you have to follow the marimbas, it’s a lot easier if you know how to play what they’re playing, rather than it just being “that one marimba part”. Plus, you never know when the pit arranger is going to say “Hey ______, can you double the marimba part at measure 52? Thanks!”.
I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of any others at the moment. Since odds are good that the people there aren’t going to know much about the technique for a piano/keyboard/synth/whatever, you have to impress the staff with the more abstract things - how quick you can learn, how well you respond to criticism, your rehearsal etiquette, etc.