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DrumCorps Fall 2009 | Vol. 4 No. 1

The Magazine of Marching Music’s Major League™


All About Auditioning





The Troopers Return to Glory


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CONGRATULATIONS CONGRATULATIONS To ToAll AllMarching MarchingMembers Members& &Staff StaffFor For AARemarkable 2009 Season. Remarkable 2009 Season.



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As Your Drums Beat, Our Hearts Pounded

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of

s the DCI World Championship

WE CAN’T WAIT TO DO IT AGAIN WHEN THE DRUM CORPS INTERNATIONAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS RETURN TO INDIANAPOLIS IN 2010 We thought we knew what we were getting in DCI’s World Championships, but now that we have seen and we have heard, we believe. What a magnificent competition that took place in August in Lucas Oil Stadium. And what a tremendous event for our city. But just as every Drum Corps strives for perfection in each performance, so do we. That’s why we will take what we learned from the 2009 Championships and use that as the platform upon which to build a better event for 2010 and beyond. In the meantime, thank you for your faith and investment in us. Thank you for those soul-stirring sights and sounds. 2010 can’t get here quickly enough.

Raising the Game

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DrumCorps International

Fall 2009


6 From the Top

9 Sidelines

Step forward and get on the field.

Legends in the making… Crown’s Sterling performance… Hall-of-Famers gather in Indy… Ticket packages for 2010… Standout individuals and ensembles, a Devils double, Scholarship and Jim Jones Award winners, and other news.

18 Scene at the Championships

20 Commitment to Excellence

Features 22 Get in the Picture

29 Command Performers

37 Brass Lesson

38 Percussion Lesson

40 Movement Lesson

Faces from around the 2010 World Championships.

Fred Morris helped the Troopers blaze a trail back to the Finals after more than two decades in the wilderness.

44 Gear

Get ready for audition season with the latest equipment and accessories for marching musicians.

46 Age Out

Former Velvet Knights trumpeter Jerry Ferro produces and edits trailer music for some of television’s most popular shows.

Whether your talent lies in brass, percussion, one of the many instruments in the front ensemble, or color guard, there’s a place for you in drum corps. It all starts with an audition. By Chad Criswell

Some of the nation’s finest musicians—including a significant number of former drum corps members— fill the ranks of military music ensembles, which range from traditional drum & bugle corps to concert, classical, jazz, country, and rock bands. By Adam Perlmutter

Building finger dexterity, by Boston Crusaders brass instructor Tom Ruby.

Improving control with four-mallet grips, by clinician Ed Saindon.

Stretching and warming up, by Santa Clara Vanguard color guard choreographer Carol Abohatab.

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DrumCorps International THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF MARCHING MUSIC’S MAJOR LEAGUE Volume 4 Issue 1 Dan Acheson Executive Director Chris Weber Communications Manager Bob Jacobs Director of Marketing Lora Morton Manager of Promotion Services

Join the “Superheroes”


ne of the many things I look forward to each summer on the Drum Corps International Tour is having the opportunity to hang out in the stadium where corps exit the field. Because of the hectic schedules of the competing groups, mingling backstage after a show is one of the few chances I get to chat directly with performers. Even after many seasons, it’s easy for me to forget that these on-the-field “superheroes” are simply talented, energetic and skilled young adults once they shed their uniforms. As DCI corps begin their auditions preparing to usher in a new edition of marching music’s elite, I want you to remember that each of the stars you see on the field began their journey by simply pushing themselves to take the chance to try out. From my unique vantage point, I am reminded that these are the same backpack-toting, iPod-listening, Facebook-posting people that you’re around every day … and there’s no better place for you to be than standing beside them at an upcoming “audition camp” experience. Yes, any audition process can be nerve-wracking, but those who manage the auditions for our corps know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes. They are focused on making sure that you are welcomed and thoroughly enjoy an experience that is fun, informative and educational. Even if you’re on the fence, I encourage you to seize the opportunity and audition! I have had countless conversations with corps members who thought they’d never have a shot, or others who auditioned several times to achieve their goal of membership. By setting goals and working hard to attain them, they were able to achieve something magnificent: the chance to share their love of performance with their fellow corps members. Best of luck, practice hard and don’t forget to absorb as much as you can along the way! I’ll be on the lookout for the new class of superheroes taking the field next summer and look forward to chatting with you after a show. Warmest regards,

Daniel E. Acheson Executive Director/CEO Drum Corps International Marching Music’s Major League™ 6

John DeNovi Director of Business Development Custom Published By: In Tune Partners, LLC Irwin Kornfeld CEO Will Edwards President Angelo Biasi Publisher Emile Menasché Editor-in-Chief Jackie Jordan Creative Director Mac Randall Senior Editor Robin Stein Production Director Tia Levinson Business Manager Illustrations Trevor Johnston Photography Johnny Gilbert, Craig Olear, Sid and Linda Unser Contributors Carol Abohatab, Chad Criswell, Jim Dunlap, Geoff Giordano, Danny Miles, Adam Perlmutter, Tom Ruby, Ed Saindon Drum Corps International is the leader in producing events for the world’s most elite and exclusive marching ensembles for student musicians and performers. Editorial and business contact is 110 W. Washington St., Suite C, Indianapolis, IN 46204, phone: 317-275-1212, fax: 317-713-0690. Drum Corps International Magazine is published in the Fall, Winter and Spring of each year. Nonprofit organization U.S. postage paid at Long Prairie, MN permit #710. Copyright ©2009 Drum Corps International. All rights reserved.

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Where Will Your Musical Journey Take You?

Life is not a destination, it’s a journey…and every day offers a new opportunity for growth, self-expression and personal achievement. Whether you’ve been making music your entire life or you’re picking up an instrument for the first time, your local NAMM member music store has everything you need to make the most of your musical journey. To locate your local music retailer and learn more about the benefits of making music, please visit .

The 9,000+ companies of NAMM are proud to sponsor Drum Corps International.

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News and Notes from Drum Corps International 2010 World Championship DCI World Championships Logo and Color Versions 2010 Revised 6.17.2009 FANtastic 5 Ticket Packages

Ticket packages for the 2010 World Championships are on sale now. Introduced in 2008, the FANtastic 5 Ticket Package pms 152c offers the best seats in the house and access to all five Championship events taking place at Lucas Oil Stadium— with reserved seating for all World Class events. Package prices range from $129-$299. FANtastic 5 package orders will only be on sale until Nov. 1. Single event tickets will go on sale shortly after that deadline through Ticketmaster. For more information, see

Thursday, August 12, 2010 † World Class Quarterfinals Friday, August 13, 2010 † Open Class Semifinals † World Class Semifinals Saturday, August 14, 2010 † Open Class Finals † World Class Finals


Open Class Coordinator David Eddleman (left) with Legends’ Director Ibe Sodawalla

Legends in the Making

t’s not often that a 10th-place corps earns as much recognition as the 2009 Legends. But at the rate it’s going, the group from Kalamazoo, Mich., may soon need to expand its trophy case. In only its second year of Drum Corps International competition, Legends earned accolades as the Most Improved Corps in Open Class, while founder Ibe Sodawalla was named Open Class Director of the Year, and drum major Kelly Koch earned the Jim Jones Leadership Award. It’s been an impressive rise for a group t h at wa s b or n i n 20 01 when Por t age Central High School brass students got together with Sodawalla for extra instruction; percussionists soon joined. The group generated standing ovations and plenty of

buzz at the school’s spring concert; the crowd’s reaction to the their performance of “Legends of t he Fall” inspired t he e n s e m b l e ’s n a m e . S o o n , L e g e n d s Performing Arts Association began attracting members from beyond its local area and formed an indoor brass and percussion ensemble. The summer program began in 2006; by ’07, the group was performing at (but not competing in) a few DCI events. Legends officially joined the DCI Tour in ’08, finishing 15th. “It’s the most incredible honor to know that my colleagues recognized what we were able to do and saw that we were able to become a great drum corps this year,” Sodawalla says. 9

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Sidelines ’09 Championships CDs and DVDs Bring all the action from the ’09 World Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium home. New releases include a four-CD set featuring complete performances of all 22 World Class corps, plus DVDs in three volumes: World Class Finalists (1-12 placing corps), World Class 13-22 placing corps, and Open Class Finalists. Various money-saving bundles are available. Visit store. or call 317.275.1212 x3.

2009 Performance Downloads Experience the historic 2009 Drum Corps International Tour with DCI’s Audio Performance Downloads (APD). Featuring high-quality MP3 audio files (320 kB/s) of the World and Open Class corps recorded live at select events this past summer, APDs will work on almost any portable music or multimedia player. Each download is $4.49 (only

$2.49 for Fan Network subscribers), and all proceeds support the corps. Also available are DCI’s Video Performance Downloads (VPD) that feature Finalist performances from 1974-2008. Viewable in Quicktime or iTunes, each VPD costs $6.49 ($4.49 for subscribers). Download today at

Two Classes of Hall-of-Famers Honored in Indy Drum Corps International’s first Hall of Fame induction ceremony to be held in Indianapolis brought together the classes of 2008 and ’09. It was the centerpiece of DCI’s inaugural Kickoff Party celebrating the start of the World Championships in Indy. Members of the 2009 class—including Cadets music arranger Jay Bocook; the late visual designer and judge Richard “Ike” Iannessa; Emil Pavlik, Kilties’ music director and arranger in the 1950s and ’60s; Shirley Stratton Dorritie, color guard educator and designer for the

Jay Bocook

Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard; and brass instructor/arranger Frank Williams—were honored alongside last year’s class, which includes DCI Executive Director and CEO Dan Acheson; Percussion arranger and instructor James Campbell; Blue Devils B and C Director Rick Odello; and Colts Executive Director Greg Orwoll. Learn more at

Hall of Fame member Gene Monterastelli with Vanguard’s Stephanie Lee

Vanguard’s Lee and Legends’ Koch Receive Jim Jones Leadership Awards


tephanie Lee made history as the first female head drum major in t he 42-year histor y of t he Santa Clara Vanguard, but 2009 will be now doubly memorable for the University of North Texas honor student, who received the World Class Jim Jones Leadership Award. “She was up before the corps each morning and the last one to go to bed, making sure the corps members were wellinformed and on task from the beginning of each day,” says Santa Clara’s Executive Director Jeff Fiedler. “Going through the process has been a fun ride,” says Lee, a music education major at UNT who aged out at the end of the season. “I’m elated!” The Open Class award went to Legends’ drum major Kelly Koch. “There are so many other wonderful drum majors that I have met this year,” says Koch who hails from Parchment, Michigan. “To be chosen out of them—I am totally honored.” Koch’s award completed a happy trifecta for Legends that also included Director of the Year and Most Improved Corps (see “Legends in the Making” on p. 9). “The corps’ progress this year was thrilling to be a part of,” Koch says. “Making it to the Finals is just huge. To see how much individuals have grown over the season in amazing. I’m really proud of all of them.” Jim Jones Leadership Award—named after Troopers founder and charter member of the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame—is given each year to one World Class and one Open Class drum major selected by a committee of Hall of Fame members.


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Sidelines Spotlight on Individuals and Ensembles Drum Corps International’s Individual & Ensemble Competition lets small groups and individual players strut their stuff. Here are 2009’s top finishers in each category. Head to to learn more and see complete scores.


Carolina Wears Silver Crown

he Blue Devils’ historic sweep of the World and Open Class titles may have been the banner headline from the 2009 Drum Corps International World Championship Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium (See “Perfect Devils,” p. 14), but several other corps made history in Indy. World Class runners up Carolina Crown celebrated the corps’ 20th anniversary with its best ever finish—edging past another anniversary celebrant, the 75-year-old Cadets. The Silver Medal tops Crown’s previous best (they were fourth in ’08), and marks yet another move up the standings in what has been a steady trajectory since Carolina’s 16th-place finish in 2002. “Jim Coates and our great design team again put together a tremendous program,” says Crown Exec. Director Kevin Smith. “The fans supported the corps throughout the summer and that really played a big role in our first ever top-three finish. The Fan Network Fan Choice award certainly confirms that we again connected with the audience both online and in the stands.” Crown’s brass score (19.60) prevented a Blue Devil sweep of all caption awards. Another feel-good story at the World Championships was the return of the Troopers to the Finals for the first time in 23 years (“Commitment to Excellence,” p. 20). The corps’ 85.900 Semifinal tally edged it past the Colts (85.600). Finishing in between the Bronze-medalist Cadets and Troopers were the Cavaliers, Santa Clara Vanguard, Bluecoats, Boston Crusaders, Blue Stars, Phantom Regiment, Glassmen, and Blue Knights. In the Open Class, Nashville’s Music City ended an impressive first year by reaching the Semifinals (missing the Finals by one place). Citations (Burlington, Mass.) earned hardware for the first time with a Bronze medal finish, while the Velvet Knights and 7th Regiment both made it into their very first Open Class Finals. Last year’s champs, the SCV Cadets, finished second overall. See complete scores and standings at

Keyboard: Sarah Cheon (Blue Devils): 98 Multi-Percussion: Arther Johnson (Spirit): 99 Multi-Tenor: Nicholas Arce (Blue Devils): 97.5 Snare: David Oriente (Blue Stars): 95 Saxophone: John Torsak (Madison Scouts): 98 Timpani: Michael Howard (Blue Devils): 87 French Horn: Jenn Mammino (Boston Crusaders): 97 Mellophone: Zachary Kahler (Cascades): 78.5 Flute: Lani MacLean (The Academy): 93.5 Clarinet: Evan Lynch (The Academy): 99 Auxiliary: Emily Nunn (Blue Devils): 97 Tuba: Nick Poulides (Blue Knights): 94.4 Cymbal Ensemble: The Academy 97.5 Bass Drum Ensemble: Madison Scouts 97 Percussion Ensemble: Boston Crusaders 95 Brass Ensemble: Blue Devils 95 Flag: Haakon Burntvedt (Blue Stars): 97 Dance Ensemble: The Academy 100 Dance: Sarah Daniels (Blue Knights) 98 Auxiliary Ensemble: Blue Stars: 87 5 Mixed Ensemble: Blue Knights 91.6 Baritone: Matt Solis (Blue Knights): 94 Flag Ensemble: Blue Knights 90.1 Trombone: Matthew Waters (Pacific Crest): 91 Trumpet: Patrick Hunninghake (Madison Scouts): 98.5 Fastest Drummer: Manuel Joseph (Velvet Knights): 985 hits in 1 min

Scholarship Roundup Katie Hopkins (Cadets) and Lance Powell (Bluecoats) won George Zingali Scholarships for outstanding World Class color guard captain. The Jim Ott Scholarship went to Rebecca Wiggins (Bluecoats). Stephanie Rebecca Lee (Santa Clara Vanguard), Benjamin Wiggins Owens (Citations), and Mark Ziegler (Glassmen) earned scholarships from the Friends of DCI. Top score at I&E (above) earned Blue Devil Nicholas Arce the Multi-Tenor Scholarship. Taylor Clements (Phantom Regiment) and Brian Beck (Oregon Crusaders) received Richardson’s Scholarships for members pursuing music education.


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Perfect Devils The Blue Devils’ Open and World Class corps were sitting pretty after their undefeated seasons made DCI history.


itting on top of the world may be one of the dustiest clichés in the English language. But for the Blue Devils, it was literally true after the corps took its record 13th World Class World Championship with a performance that made unprecedented use of chairs. The title-winning show, “1930,” employed the chairs as more than passive props. Accompanied by a selection of inspiring depression-era songs, members sat, stood, and balanced on the chairs, moving them all over the field to build three-dimensional patterns evoking the glamour of art deco—and the steel of America’s character in the face of hardship. The Concord, California, corps’ final score of 99.50 was the second highest in Drum Corps International history, and just a 10th of a point short of the all-time mark. “People do not recognize how good these kids are—not just in talent but as human beings,” Blue Devils Executive Director David Gibbs said after the win. “They’ve worked so hard and sacrificed so much, and I want to tell them I’m extremely proud of them.” The win also meant the “A” corps could sit proudly next to Blue Devils B, which took the Open Class title earlier in the day with a score of 95.500. The corps’ show, “Pursuit,” featured music by pop star Imogen Heap alongside original compositions by the corps’ brass


arranger John Meehan. “This corps has pushed so hard and I’m so proud of each and every one of them,” said Drum Major Eddie Pinetta. “It was like magic tonight.” After the crushing end to the 2008 campaign—which saw the Blue Devils finish second in one of the all-time closest World Class Finals and Blue Devils B suffer a similar fate in the Open Class—the drama in Indianapolis was tempered by an air of invincibility surrounding both units, neither of which had lost a single competition all season. “This was the first time that one organization has had Gold medals in both [levels of competition],” Blue Devils B and C Director Rick Odello told the Contra Costa Times. “The dominance is really amazing to the whole drum corps fraternity.” In fact, Odello had quite a week: It started with his induction into the DCI Hall-of-Fame and ended with his 19-year-old percussionist son Andrew helping the Blue Devils “A” become the first World Class percussion section to go undefeated in its caption since 1974. “We’re happy obviously that we had a successful run at it and it’s nice to have an unblemished record through the whole thing,” Odello said. “It’s a feeling beyond compare.”

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Congratulations to the Congratulations to the Blue Devils Organization Blue Devils Organization

2009 DCI World Champions and 2009 DCIofWorld Champions winners The Fred Sanfordand Best winners of The Fred Sanford Best Percussion Award Percussion Award

©2009 ©2009 ©2009 AvedisAvedis Avedis Zildjian Zildjian Zildjian Company Company Company

2009 DCI Open Division World Champions 2009 DCIPercussion Open Division World Champions and Best Award and Best Percussion Award &RQJUDWXODWLRQVWRRXURWKHUğQH=LOGMLDQ&RUSV &RQJUDWXODWLRQVWRRXURWKHUğQH=LOGMLDQ&RUSV IRUDQRXWVWDQGLQJVHDVRQ IRUDQRXWVWDQGLQJVHDVRQ * Carolina Crown * Troopers * Carolina Crown Holy Name Cadets ***Troopers The Academy * Holy Name Cadets The Cavaliers ** The Academy Madison Scouts * The Cavaliers Santa Clara Vanguard ** Madison CrossmenScouts * Santa Clara Vanguard ** Crossmen Bluecoats Spirit * Bluecoats Blue Stars ** Spirit Jersey Surf * Blue StarsRegiment Phantom Jersey PioneerSurf * Phantom GlassmenRegiment Pioneer Cascades * Glassmen Blue Knights Cascades * Blue Knights * - Finalist *** Semi-Finalist * -- -Finalist Finalist ** ** - Semi-Finalist Semi-Finalist

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9/14/09 11:47:04 AM

Scene at the Championships


By Paul Irwin

fter kicking off with Open Class events in Michigan City, Indiana, the 2009 Drum Corps International World Championships took over its new home of Indianapolis, turning the Circle City into Drum Corps City. In addition to the action inside Lucas Oil Stadium, there was plenty for corps fans to do and see, from

the serious (honoring two classes of DCI Hall-of-Famers, recognizing volunteers, educators and other members of the drum corps community) to the fun (how else to describe the Drum Off event, where dancers from the Indiana Pacers get drum lessons from corps members while an inflatable referee looks on?). << 1 Mrs. America 2009 Maureen MacDonald addresses fans at the Friends of DCI Breakfast during the World Championships weekend in Indianapolis. << 2 Percussion icon Vic Firth receives a sponsorship award from DCIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s John DeNovi at the Finals.




<< 3 Thirty Open Class drum majors pose for the cameras at the World Championships Opening Ceremonies in Michigan City, Indiana.

>> 4 A pair of Blue Devil fans show their colors.

>> 5 2009 U.S. Army All-

American Marching Band drum major Christine Norton (R) passes the hat to 2010 drum major Jaclyn Turner.

>> 6 DCI Hall of Famer Steve

Vickers with Chris Komnick, Madison Scouts Executive Director.



6 <<

7 2009 Hall of Fame inductees: Emil Pavlik, Frank Williams, Jay Bocook, Rich Iannessa (son of Ike Iannessa), and Shirley Stratton Dorritie with last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inductees: James Campbell, Rick Odello, Dan Acheson and Greg Orwoll.


8 DCI interns Kevin Lee (left) and Justin Herberger.





9 2009 Volunteers of the Year Tom and Linda Weiss at the Finals.

>> 10 Don Welsh, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association. >> 11 Cavaliers snare

drummer Patrick Chapman gives pointers to Pacemate Ashley Walczewski.

>> 12 Two Pacemates hang with a motley crew of mascots at the DCI Drum Off event. 18




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Commitment to Excellence

By Jim Dunlap

Fred Morris Director, Troopers


n the first thirty or so years of its existence, the Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps was one of marching music’s pacesetters. Under the guidance of founder and DCI Hall-ofFamer Jim Jones, the corps won titles in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970 and placed in the Drum Corps International Finals nine times between 1973 and 1986. For more than two decades, however, pride alone hadn’t been enough to lift the Casper, Wyoming-based unit back into the Top-12. But under the guidance of Executive Director Fred Morris, the Troopers marched back into the proverbial promised land in ’09. Morris’ role in restoring the Troopers to a competitive standard more in keeping with the Jones-era glory days earned him the Dr. Bernard Baggs Leadership Award—an honor that recognizes the season’s outstanding DCI director as determined by his or her peers. “It’s a very special honor in that it was awarded to me by a lot of guys who have been doing this a lot longer than I have,” says Morris, who took over the Troopers back in 2006, a season in which the squad didn’t compete. “They know the trials and tribulations that you face on a daily basis

from a director’s standpoint.” For the Troopers, the long road back to prominence was capped off by a place in the Finals in Indianapolis—an achievement the corps hadn’t attained in 23 years. “It was very gratifying for me to see this team take fate into its own hands,” Morris says. “They not only accomplished their goals, but they exceeded what they thought they could do.” To reach the Finals only three years after the dark season of 2006, the corps underwent a comprehensive rebuilding regimen that touched on every aspect of the program. “The board of directors, design team, staff and kids all raised the bar,” Morris says. “We changed the way we approached our programming, rehearsals and attitudes. We took nothing for granted and demanded the best from ourselves.” The emotional apex for the Troopers in 2009 no doubt came at the conclusion of the DCI Semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in August as the “Long Blue Line” awaited word of its fate. Morris said the wait, laden with a sense of overwhelming anticipation, felt like an eternity. Finally, bedlam ensued as the announcement was made: The Troopers— by a narrow margin of .30 points—had slipped past the Colts to make the Finals. “The kids had gone to the buses to change, and they awaited the scores out there,” Morris recalled. “The staff had gathered in the exit tunnel to await the announcement. There was this quiet excitement. Then it was elation—tears, hugs, high-fives… Some people fell to their knees. Any kind of joyful emotion you can name, it was there. It was a great night. I’m very proud of the kids and staff for what they accomplished.” Now that the Troopers have made a triumphant return, a new question looms: What to do for an encore? According to Morris, it’s a matter of continuing to raise the bar. “I’ve kept the same design team and all of our staff,” he says. “The retention rate of the corps and new interest looks to be very strong for next year. We have an ‘if-it-ain’t-broke, don’t-fix-it’ attitude.” Yet Morris also hopes to build on 2009’s success next year and over the long term. “We will increase the size of the corps while still living within our means,” he says. “We will stay true to ourselves but push the envelope again with our programming and give the kids a very educational music and life experience.”


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icture yourself in a drum corps? You want the excitement of traveling all over the country and the thrill of performing in front of thousands of screaming fans all summer long? Well, this journey of many thousand miles truly begins with one first step—an audition.

Getting Involved

So, how do you start? While the first practical steps include researching the organizations (you’ll find a list at and getting the details on their audition policies, the journey really begins when you decide you’re ready. So let’s bust a myth right here: You don’t have to be an all-pro musician or color guard member to get involved in drum corps. All you need is a willingness to learn and a desire to march, perform, and hang out with a large group of people who share your passion. “We try to offer a welcoming family-style environment, with plenty of communication between us and you,” says Andy Smart of the Blue Knights’ brass staff. “We want you to have a good experience and we will work very hard to make sure that happens.” That’s not to say that auditioning for an elite World Class corps can’t get intense or competitive. But all corps discourage the “pass-fail” attitude that can make performance evaluations so intimidating, and even the


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e h t n i Get

e r u i t Pc Drum corps audition season is upon us. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what you need to know to prepare for and pass the test that will put you on the field. BY CHAD CRISWELL


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most competitive corps have programs for those new to the marching arts. As much as you may want to impress the corps, the corps wants to give you a good time—and help you become a better performer. An audition camp also offers a unique opportunity to meet young people who share your interest; some will be rookies like yourself but you’ll also meet veterans who can show you the ropes. “We want you to come and live the experience of a weekend playing with the corps,” says Carolina Crown program coordinator Jim Coates. “Just relax, come in and be yourself.”


How Auditions Work

While each organization has its own audition policy, most corps run two or more audition camps beginning in November. These are often held in different parts of the corps’ home state—or even in different parts of the country. Depending on the size and popularity of the corps, it may be necessary to reserve a place in advance.

The Internet has made it easier for newcomers to prepare to join a drum corps. Most groups post audition music on their web sites or allow potential members to sign up to receive music by email. Some organizations, including the Colts of Dubuque, Iowa, accept recorded auditions via the


A Member s-eye view of Auditioning Brad Sparks of the Colts (Dubuque, Iowa) was first introduced to drum corps several summers ago when the Bluecoats passed through his hometown. After deciding that he wanted to get involved, he auditioned for the Colts, a World Class corps based within a two-hour drive of his home. He says his experiences at the Colts’ audition camps are pretty typical for most first-time candidates. “The first time I auditioned it was a little bit nerve wracking,” Sparks says. “All of the returning members were there, and they all shared their own inside jokes. But once things got rolling the audition was actually pretty low key. With the Colts, the entire weekend is set up the same way that the sum24

mer schedule is set up, so you get a good feel for what it might be like to be in the corps. Make sure you have your music well practiced before you go to the audition, and be prepared for the staff to give you a lot of constructive criticism!” Brad was accepted for the 2008 season, but had to turn Brad Sparks

down the offer due to other commitments. For the ’09 season, he was unable to attend the Colts November camps, so he submitted his audition as an online video. “Doing the audition on video was actually harder in some ways than auditioning in person,” he says. “You have to go through all of the required playing and marching stuff, but it is essentially a one-time shot. The video may be all that they see of you, versus letting the staff get to know you in person over the entire weekend. If I had my choice, I would go to the rehearsal camp to audition.” Interestingly, though he auditioned as a baritone horn, Brad ended up playing tuba on tour. “They needed another contra player, and I

thought that I was physically able to do it,” he says. “They worked with me on the parts and technique and it worked out great. The one thing that I hadn’t really been prepared for was the level of physical fitness that was required throughout the season. The first few weeks were rough as I built up endurance and strength, but by July, I was holding up pretty well.” So what words of advice does Brad have for potential members? “People tend to think that they aren’t good enough to be in a drum corps, but if you show enough commitment and dedication during the audition, the staff will work just as hard to help you achieve more than you can ever imagine. Work hard and don’t give up until you get offered a spot!”

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Internet—though auditioning online means you’ll miss out on the camp experience. Because corps will typically cover your housing, all of your meals and your instruction during an audition weekend, candidates are usually asked to pay a fee when registering. In some cases, for online auditions may be applied towards the cost of an upcoming audition camp. Generally, November and Blue December audition camps are Stars built into a corps’ rehearsal schedule, in which case you may get a chance to meet veteran members and ask them about the corps. Some organizations opt to hold auditions separate from rehearsals, and may focus a particular audition date on only one section of the ensemble. Either way, because corps auditions often draw candidates from all over the country—and even overseas—they’re a great way to meet new people. Many a lifelong friendship started at an audition camp.

the corps’ daily schedule and routine during the summer tour. You’ll probably rehearse all day long, stopping only for meals. The evening often includes more rehearsal—followed by sleeping on the floor of a school gymnasium. “When you come to one of our camps our goal is that you have fun and learn about our organization in the process,” says Cadets assistant director Justin Heimbecker. Getting comfortable with the lifestyle is almost as important as mastering the performance requirements. This is your chance to show veteran members and corps staff that you’re a team player. “How you do in the five or ten minute audition is never the only deciding factor in how we look at you,” Heimbecker says. “We want someone with a lot of potential, a good work ethic, and a positive attitude.” One key way to demonstrate your attitude is come prepared. Even if you’re an extremely accomplished player, don’t make the mistake of walking What You’ll Learn into the room hoping to wing A large part of the drum corps it. Have your scales, etudes, experience is the instruction a nd ot her exerc ise s dow n you’ll get from corps staff, cold. Fortunately, most groups including the section leaders post audition materials online (known as caption heads), and this i n late Aug ust or early education starts at the audition. September, so there’s plenty of At most camps, prospects time to study. You can also prewill audition either in a small pare by watching the corps on group or in a one-on-one setvideo. Pay close attention to ting. The audition itself usually consists of scales and etudes marching technique and instrument carriage. It’s a good idea for the brass, rudiments and exercises for percussion, and a to practice in front of a mirror and do your best to mimic the wide variety of movements and tosses for color guard. All style of the corps at the audition. candidates will likely be asked to demonstrate their marching Beyond your ability to play and to fit in, a corps needs to technique, as well. know that you can commit the time to fit its schedule. Many For corps staff, constructive criticism is as high on the agen- World Class groups expect members to attend rehearsals and daT asRtalent I H S -evaluation. T E E R F AEveryone T E G who auditions goes home camps throughout the winter and spring, in addition to with about how to improve. spending the summer touring the country. An Open Class T Sdetailed A L S E I Lnotes P P Uand S E Lsuggestions IHW That’s one reason many corps encourage newcomers to audi- corps may have a less intense schedule in the winter, and may 90 GAM ICD :EDOC OMORP tion at an early camp; you can use the critique you get the first stay closer to home in the summer, making it easier for time out to improve your performance at later camps. “It is younger members or college students who work to participart of the job of the caption heads to give feedback and pate. Either way, come to the audition with your calendar in instruction during the audition,” says Crossmen director hand and make note of any conflicts that you have such as Mark Chambers. “If we see potential in a person, we will show family events, school graduations, band camps, etc. them how we want things done and then invite them to come Drum corps is a very physically demanding activity, so back for the next round to see how much they can improve.” consider fitness part of your preparation. You don’t have to be ready to run the marathon before your audition, but it Getting to Know You (and Vice Versa) does pay to be active. Be honest and forthcoming about any Audition camps may be designed to help the organizations health issues (such as asthma) you might have so that the gnidivorp yb ecnamrofrep dna cisum fo evol ’stnapicitrap gnihcram secnahne ™ e n i z a g a M e m i t f l a H u m m o c e nfor i l n o potential d n a e n i z a g a mmemd e t n i r p y l h tcorps n o m i b astaff n i n o i tcan a r i p s nprepare i d n a t n e maccordingly. niatretne ,noitacude fill their ranks, but they’re also.yatinchance bers to experience corps life firsthand. Most camps mimic Lastly, before auditioning, it’s important to learn about the

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financial commitment—it’s different for each organization. But before deciding that joining a corps is outside your family budget, talk to the staff. Most groups have fund raising programs or provide scholarships.

Setting Expectations

While it is possible for a first-time candidate to audition successfully for a top World Class group, many members start their drum corps careers in Open Class units. “Smaller corps like ours have a lot of advantages over the big corps,” says Paul Chaffee, Executive Director of the Racine Scouts. “We pride ourselves in being a true teaching organization. We will take kids with no experience at all and teach them how to do it. We also tend to have lower fees than the bigger corps. As a result we are much more relaxed in how we do things—yet our performances are still something to be very proud of.” Ultimately, whether you’re new to the marching arts, want to expand on your marching band experience by joining a drum corps, or have a drum corps background and are ready to move up in class, the experience of auditioning will make you a better performer—and a stronger person.


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With so many drum corps across the country, getting involved has never been easier. The audition camp is your chance to find the right fit for your abilities and temperament. And once you do, you’ll be marching into an experience that will last a lifetime. Think you’re ready to step into the frame? Learn how you can get involved at

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★ Command ★

Performers Drum corps veterans are among the elite musicians who proudly serve in the U. S. Armed Forces.


oday’s drum corps performances may boast a theatrical flair worthy of the Broadway stage, but when the first civilian corps began to march after World War I, their music and marching style were in lock step with the military drum and bugle corps that had been their inspiration. Much has changed since the days of Doughboys and valveless bugles. Like modern drum corps, the musical ensembles in today’s U.S. Armed Services have evolved, and now include a diverse group of marching and concert ensembles that range from small combos to units numbering in the hundreds. Traditional military fare may remain part of the repertoire, but it’s performed alongside classical, rock, jazz and even country music. The military’s most elite ensembles, the ultra-competitive Premier Bands, include a high percentage of conser vator ytrained musicians, and the level of formal training is also high at the many regional and specialized ensembles around the country. In addition to music programs at the military academies, the Navy has its own music school, which trains musicians in all branches of the A rmed Services. Musicians in uniform come from

U. S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps

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many backgrounds, but according to Staff Sgt. Adam Lessard of the U.S. Army Band, drum corps experience combats the fear some musicians may have about the demands of military life. “There are probably about 10 drum corps alumni in our unit, and lots of us throughout all the services,” says Lessard, a baritone player who marched with the Spirit from JSU. “The military aspect might be a deterrent to some musicians, but if you’ve done drum corps, you know you’ll be able to deal with challenges.”

Navy Musician Second Class John Wheeler, center on Trumpet

From a Corps to “The Corps”

The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps is nicknamed “The Commandant’s Own” because of its affiliation with the highest-ranking officer of the Marine Corps. The group was formed in 1934 to complement the United States Marine Band (“The President’s Own,” which was formed in 1798 by an act of Congress and is the oldest professional musical organization in the country). Members of the Commandant’s Own are distinguished by their white gauntlets and silver-colored brass instruments. Sergeant Chip Mullins, Jr., a contrabass bugler with the Commandant’s Own, marched with Jersey Surf from 19962002 before majoring in music performance on the tuba at the University of Delaware. Mullins credits his time with the Surf for helping him achieve the high level of presentation required of a Marine. “Surf always tried to clean up our housing sites and leave places better than we found them,” he says. “In the Marines, we’re really focused on professionalism and maintaining good relationships with people and places we go, and having marched in drum corps for so long, it’s like second nature.”   Mullins sees many similarities between playing in a junior drum corps in the military. “In the Marines we have a drill show that consists of six songs, one of which is a drum solo,” he says. “Our rehearsals are also very similar to those in junior corps. We have sectionals [where all of the low brass works together], then brass ensemble, and full ensemble. Some techniques are the same too, like the 8 to 5 marching step [eight steps in a span of five yards] and some similar horn moves.”  The Commandant’s Own may be in the mold of the tra-

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ditional drum and bugle corps, but the multifaceted Quantico Marine Corps Band demonstrates the diversity of military music. Established in 1918 and operating out of the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, the unit consists of a ceremonial band and a concert band—as well as a brass quintet, a woodwind quintet, a rock band, and a jazz combo. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Benjamin Bartholomew, who has served in the Marines for two decades, is currently the outfit’s Director/Officer in Charge. In high school, he marched with the Troopers (Casper, Wyo.), and after graduating in 1988, with the Cadets (then based in Garfield, N.J.) before studying at the Nav y School of Music in Little Creek, Virginia. Bartholomew says that the musicality and discipline he gained in the corps have helped him succeed in uniform. “I am absolutely convinced that had I not marched those two years in a drum corps, I would not have passed the audition to enter the USMC music program,” he explains. “The top-notch instruction I received during those two summers exponentially improved my playing ability. In addition, my summer with Quantico Marine Corps Band Garf ield def initely eased the pain of boot

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camp—I actually got three square meals and a good night’s sleep at [Marine Corps Recruit Depot] Parris Island!” While Bartholomew concedes that the range of music performed by Quantico’s musicians goes into territory he never explored in drum corps, he maintains that there are many connections between his summers on the field and his military life, including “discipline, structure, pride in belonging—and ruthless enforcement of ‘the standard.’” Sergeant Leann Splitter, a trumpeter who marched with the Colts in 2001 and ’02, is also a member of the Quantico unit. And although it’s not a primary focus, marching is still part of the repertoire at some Quantico performances. “We do a ‘corps st yle’ show once a year for t he Virginia International Tattoo [an annual three day festival of military music featuring 850 performers, including groups from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard],” she says. “My drum corps performance and teaching background has really allowed me to help out the rest of the Marines learn the show.”

From Surf to Sail

Navy Musician Second Class John Wheeler marched with the Jersey Surf from 1992-98, and is currently with the 35-member U.S. Navy Band New Orleans, one of 11 Navy Fleet

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bands, eight of which are based around the U.S. There are also two Premier Naval ensembles: The 66-member Naval Academy Band, which was established in the 1850s, and the U.S. Navy Band, a 172-member unit based in Washington, D.C. Overall, Wheeler sees many parallels between life in drum corps and in the services. “The drama, being responsible, planning ahead, doing your best not to let your friends down—and picking them up when things go sour—it’s really the same deal—with more accountability,” he says. Previously stationed with the San Diego-based Navy Band Southwest, Wheeler currently plays with three of Navy Band New Orleans’ five ensembles, including its Ceremonial Band, Show Band South, and a traditional New Orleans-style brass band. “In a typical week, I might play lead on a big band job and do two New Orleans jazz band gigs,” he says. The same week might also include “two or three military ceremonies—where I might play f irst, second, or third cornet parts—and playing taps at a funeral.” For Wheeler, success in the Navy Band is due to more than his instrumental skill; it’s also about interpersonal relationships, something he was first encouraged to work on while with the Surf. “I learned how to deal with people, how to work with them—and depend on them—even if you don’t like them or you don’t see eye-to-eye on big personal issues,” he says. “Conflict resolution, mutual respect, and tolerance are all important life lessons that drum corps prepared me for.”

Guard Duty

The United States Coast Guard Band was founded in 1925 and represents both the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. Considered one of the Premier Bands in the U.S. military, it tours the U. S. and the world. Adam Crowe, Principal t uba player Adam principal tuba player, Crowe marched w it h t he Coast Guard Band S out hw i nd D r u m a nd Bu gle Corps, then based in Alabama. “When I marched with Southwind I think I was one of the youngest, if not the youngest member of the corps at age 14,” he recalls. “Some of my high school-band friends had been members of the corps in previous years and loved it, so naturally I wanted to be a part of what they had been doing. I

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remember being surprised by the demands set by the staff and the veteran members, especially during everyday playing and at extended camps. I had never worked so hard or so long on anything up to that point!” Playing in Southwind helped solidify the brass techniques that have served Crowe well to this day. “I believe a strong education in brass playing fundamentals was a tremendous help to my playing, especially as a young student,” he says. “Breathing exercises, mouthpiece buzzing, long tones, f lexibility exercises—all of Military Bands those things I either learned or were further reinforced in UNITED STATES MILITARY dr um corps. At t he same ACADEMY BAND time, being able to work long hours, which I first did at UNITED STATES ARMY Southwind, is a hugely valuBAND “PERSHING’S OWN” able skill that still benefits me in the Coast Guard Band.” UNITED STATES Crowe majored in music AIR FORCE BAND education at the University of Alabama, but his experiUNITED STATES COAST ence on t he f ield w it h GUARD BAND Southwind sparked his desire UNITED STATES NAVY BAND to keep performing after college. A f ter tak ing lots of auditions, entering competiUNITED STATES MARINE tions, and attending conferDRUM & BUGLE CORPS “THE COMMANDANT’S OWN” ences, Crowe found a place in the Coast Guard Band in 1999, a gig that has taken his UNITED STATES MARINE musicality to all new levels. DRUM & BUGLE CORPS “THE PRESIDENT’S OWN” “Southwind was a good thing for me as a young brass player, but the Coast Guard Band continues to challenge me

even after playing tuba for 20 years,” he says. “The level of artistic excellence here—as in many other [military] performing organizations—continues to rise as so many great musicians seek out jobs.”

Mission Statement

The corps’ connection to military bands doesn’t just go in one direction. Master Sgt. Tom Rarick of the Air Force Band has worked with the Bluecoats and Troopers. Staff Sgt. Robert Marino is an in-demand percussion clinician and instructor for the Cadets when he’s not touring the nation as a member of the U. S. Army Field Band. And according to The A rmy Band’s Staf f Sgt. Lessard, it’s this opportunity to bring world-class music to citizens—and to fellow ser v ice men and women—that makes being part of a military ensemble like “Pershing’s Own” so satisfying. “We fall under The U.S. Air Force the categor y of morale, Concert Band welfare, and recreation,” he says. “We tour Iraq and Afghanistan and play for the troops on the holidays. We just formed a rock band geared toward younger soldiers.” Yet, even as all the military bands continue to broaden their musical repertoires, the tradition of patriotic music remains an important part. “The crowd response is pretty amazing,” says Lessard, who admits the marching experience from his drum corps days comes in handy during the band’s ceremonial duties. “Our mission is to be the musical face of the Army to the American people and promote patriotism. It’s really gratifying to see how much they enjoy hearing the music.”

U.S. Army Ceremonial Band

★ 32

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““”The Commandant’’’s Own””” The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps

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BRASS LESSON By Tom Ruby Brass Instructor Boston Crusaders

Finger Dexterity Finger dexterity is one of the most important skills for a brass player, but some instrumentalists don’t approach fingering with the same discipline they apply to other aspects of their playing. You can get away with it up to a point, but ultimately, imprecise fingering makes it difficult to play technical phrases cleanly and accurately at all tempos. The most common mistake that many players make is learning to play a piece with improper technique. This wastes time, as players must unlearn those mistakes and start over. The following checklist will help you to create better playing habits, not only during technical passages, but all the time.

7 Focus on Proper Position Your hand should form a “C” position over the valves; do not lay your fingers across the top of the valves. ■ Depress the valves with the tips of your fingers; your fingers should press the valves straight down. ■ Keep your fingers on the valves at all times, even when not in use. ■ Press and release the valves in a rapid manner. ■ Make sure you stay relaxed, but do not collapse your upper body. ■

Start Slowly and Build Speed One of the most common mistakes musicians make is playing their music at tempo immediately. You should not play a piece any faster than the tempo at which you can play it perfectly. If a piece has a tempo of 120 beats-per-minute (bpm), but you can only properly play it at 60 bpm, then start at the slower tempo, and increase the speed as you become more comfortable. You will spend much less time practicing because you will have taken the time learning the piece correctly.

Use Chromatic Scales Chromatic scales are a great way to develop your dexterity. Begin on a low B-flat and play chromatically up to the B-flat two octaves above—then come back down. Start with eighth notes at 60 bpm and increase the tempo as you become more comfortable. Next, do the same exercise with triplets, followed by sixteenth notes. After you feel comfortable playing through these two octaves cleanly, then play chromatically through your entire range.

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9/17/09 5:02:55 PM

PERCUSSION LESSON Ed Saindon Author, Composer, and Clinician (Adapted from

The Fulcrum Grip

The fulcrum grip is a four-mallet grip for vibraphone and marimba that uses finger control along with wrist and arm motion to offer the four-mallet player the dynamics, looseness, speed, and power of a two-mallet player. Two-mallet players generally hold the mallets like a drummer playing with sticksâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;between the thumb and index finger (the fulcrum), while the other fingers control the mallet as it moves into and out of the palm. The fulcrum grip employs the same concept, but with two mallets in each hand. The ends of the mallets come out of the palm and are snapped back by the fingers; in addition to aiding control, this economizes wrist motion and helps you produce a full sound without unnecessarily high mallet strokes. Start by holding the mallets very loosely using the Burton grip. There are two fulcrum points with this grip, dependent upon the mallet spread:

3 Small to Midrange Spread Grips with a small to midrange spread, the fulcrum is between the third finger and thumb. The tip of the third finger should be held towards the thumb side of the outside mallet in order to retain control of the outside mallet and keep it in the palm of the hand. The thumb and second finger are held in a straight position. Use the third finger to let the inside mallet come out of the hand and snap it back. When playing the outside mallet, the fourth finger is also used to snap the mallet back into the palm. The inside mallet uses a downward motion as if it were an extension of the forearm.





7 Midrange to Large Spread In a midrange to large spread, the fulcrum or hinge is between the thumb and the first joint of the second finger (like matched grip with drumsticks). The outside mallet is not held in the palm of the hand by the third finger, allowing the end of the outside mallet to come out of the palm and be almost perpendicular to the forearm. With the thumb and second fingers acting as the hinge point, the third, fourth, and fifth fingers are used to snap the inside mallet back in the hand. The inside and outside mallets should basically form a right angle.

With both fulcrum points, the mallets must come out of the palm to allow for the snap motion of the fingers. Keep in mind that holding the mallets tightly in the hand without allowing the mallet ends to leave the palm will neutralize the use of finger control.


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SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS TO David Oriente, Blue Stars — Snare Drum Champion Joseph Manuel, Velvet Knights — Fastest Drummer Competition Boston Crusaders — Percussion Ensemble Champions Madison Scouts — Bass Drum Ensemble Champions The Academy — Cymbal Ensemble Champions

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MOVEMENT LESSON Carol Abohatab Color Guard Choreographer Santa Clara Vanguard

Warming Up for Working Out A good warm-up is essential to any movement program. And, a total program in any marching activity requires that all performers—not just the color guard—be able to help the production’s story line along visually. In order to do so, they need to know their bodies. It requires a combination of strength and flexibility, as well as good posture and a working knowledge of dance terminology. To enhance core strength and flexibility, we incorporate pilates and yoga into our warm-up, then progress to standing exercises. Integrating these two areas into actual movement sequences is the key. A progression of stretches that includes balance and coordination of moves is important. Learning the basics, such as the lunge and roll down, will give you a fundamental, yet comprehensive understanding of your body—where it is and where it needs to be for alignment, flexibility, and strength!

7 Lunge Stretch This stretches the groin muscles. Notice the alignment of the knee over the ankle, creating a 90 degree angle from the foot to knee, and from knee to hip. Keeping the foot forward, or in parallel, with the midline of the knee over the second toe helps alignment as well—and prevents undue stress to the knee.

Lunge Pose Start with a slight turn out of the front leg from the hip, with your knee bent while keeping the knee over the second toe. Keep the back leg straight and slightly turned out, with the heel on the ground. Hip should be in line with the ear, shoulder, knee and ankle of the back leg to avoid sticking out the pelvis behind you, thus breaking the ‘line’ of the shape.

3 Roll Down Start with the head slightly dropped and roll down for eight counts. Bending the knees (plié) as you roll down will help you go farther. Stretch the legs for eight counts, trying to keep the head as low as when your knees were bent. Feel a stretch on the hamstrings as well as the spine. You may take two more pliés here, to equal eight counts: plié two, stretch two, plié two, stretch two. Hold eight more counts. Bend the knees and roll up, aligning the body as you do so, and letting the body unroll all at once (legs and spine together). The head comes last. If you have someone look at you in profile, your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should be in a line. Avoid “tucking” the pelvis, and/or sticking out the ribs. Test that you are in line by doing a relevé (going up on your toes) at the end.


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Gearing Up

New and noteworthy instruments and equipment for marching musicians

Nano 5G Steps Up

Apple’s latest iPod Nano is as compact as its predecessors but adds a range of new features, including FM radio, a built-in video camera, the ability to record audio via an onboard microphone, Genius playlists, and a built-in speaker. It’s also a more useful workout companion, thanks to an onboard pedometer that tracks steps and calories burned. It can work with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit or connect to a compatible cardio machine.

Bag It

Gregory’s Kalmia 28 features a 3D foam harness, a flexible, molded foam back panel, crossover front compression straps—and lots of storage, including a main compartment with a wide opening, a second padded compartment with an insulated hydration reservoir that can double as a laptop carrier, a hydration port and sleeve, a top pocket with key clip, and more.

Balance Disc

The Thera-Band Stability Disc is designed for balance training, both for rehabilitation and to improve sports performance. The 13" latex-free, PVC disc—which the company calls the most challenging of its Soft Stability Products—can be used in a variety of exercises (it comes with a training poster). It even activates core muscles when used as a sitting cushion.

Laptops Take a Stand

Today’s notebook computers let you do everything from print sheet music to make studio quality albums—no matter where you are. Quik Lok’s new LPH/Z Laptop Stand can securely hold portable computers of various sizes on its adjustable platform, allows users to set height, width, depth, and angle, and sports a slide-out shelf for a mouse. Versions that attach to other Quik Lok products are also available.

Chiming In

TreeWorks' new SpringTree is made from an 11' aluminum/titanium alloy rod 1/4" in diameter, that’s been spun into a spring 19" long with a 5" diameter, then polished and tempered to increase resonance. It can be played with a triangle beater (included) using long vertical sweeps, or with direct or muted strikes. It comes with a mount that connects to a cymbal stand and also holds the included finger cymbal.


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( O N LY F R O M TH E M I N D O F M AY )

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By Geoff Giordano

Jerry Ferro THEN 3 NOW 3


Velvet Knights, Anaheim, CA Independant Music Editor

he unorthodox uniforms and wild performances of The Velvet Knights Drum and Bugle Corps have left an indelible impression on many an audience. And as former Knights’ trumpeter Jerry Ferro can attest, the experience of playing in this renowned corps—founded in the 1960s in Anaheim, Calif., and reborn in 2007 in Pasadena—can have an even more lasting impact. Ferro, a Los Angeles native who now writes and produces promo trailers for such TV hits as 24, The Shield and Nip/Tuck, credits his 1983-87 tenure with the Velvet K nights for honing his musical intuition and instilling a sense of pride and discipline in his work. “We were united by a sense of purpose, about being as good as we could be,” Ferro says of his fellow Knights. “Each one of us was coming home and practicing, getting to know the music and the drills. It was the first time in my young life that I really felt, ‘This is something worth devoting all my energy to.’ I’ve never forgotten that.” Ferro, 42, picked up the trumpet in elementary school and began his marching career at West High School in Torrance, Calif. After sharpening his skills under the wing of band director Jim Banim, he showed up at a Velvet Knights camp in fall 1983. The Knights evaluated Ferro and gave him a lead performing spot. He marched with them for four years, playing at San Diego State after graduating high school. The power of being a part of a DCI group struck Ferro with a vengeance while performing before tens of thousands of spectators at the 1987 World Championships in Madison, Wis. “It was us and 12 other top corps,” he recalls, “and just walking out onto that field, looking up and seeing a wall of people as high as you could look was really amazing.” Traveling with a drum corps can be grueling for some, but on the Knights’ frequent road trips, Ferro reveled in the “summer tours and sleeping on gym floors ... and being on a bus all night long from one city to another. It’s an experience 46

not a lot of Americans will have; it’s as close to being a rock star as of most of us will ever get.” When in 1987 members of the Knights decided to buckle down and raise the bar on their performances, their dedication initially drew some skepticism from casual onlookers. Ferro’s college friends initially disparaged the Knights as a waste of his time. “They didn’t quite get it, but they’d listen to some music I’d bring in, and they were impressed. I invited friends to shows, and they were amazed we were able to do what we did on the field.” Nowadays, Ferro says he only picks up the trumpet every so often to play for his wife, Araceli. But though he’s no longer playing regularly, his TV production work benefits from his drum corps experience. “In my job I have to be creative all the time and have to deal with crazy deadlines,” says Ferro, who emphasizes the importance of music in his work. “Any decent trailer always has an amazing musical score or sound design. I rely on my ear and sense of timing, which I got from drum corps and my music training in general, to make sure that when I’m editing music it makes sense and sounds good. I have good intuition of what drives a spot; I know people who don’t have music training who struggle with that all the time. They don’t hear what I hear because I’ve been trained in it.”

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Drum Corps International Magazine Fall, 2009  

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Drum Corps International Magazine Fall, 2009  

Vol. 4 No. 1: The Official Publication of Marching Music's Major League.