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Saving Drum Corps part I: Defining the problem


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#1 CaballarosJr.

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:10 PM

Preface: This posting is being sent via e-mail to all available Drum Corps Directors and any other type of communication to George Hopkins who is most to blame for ruining Drum Corps. The next posting will deal with how Drum Corps artistically has been destroyed.


In 1977, The Phantom Regiment started the first of 4 years being the best but not being Champions. They were mostly high schoolers and a few college musicians from the Rockford Area that had no school district music programs. I fell in love with Phantom for who they were, not really what they played or marched.

In 2012, The Phantom Regiment will not likely care about avenging their parents’, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings 35th anniversary injustice. Nor will more than a few have ever read The Rockford Register Star, for they don’t live there. Instead of avenging injustice, 80% are music or performance majors seeking to add something to their resume to supposedly get a music or performance job- in the second lowest employment placement.

Thirty five years ago, I cried for the first of four times for 128 Rockford High Schoolers who were in a social service organization providing a NEED not fulfilled by local school districts. Now, DC is more of an educational activity engaged by college Performing Arts Majors in colleges with entire music schools and dozens of musical opportunities that could easily use their own resources to have a Illinois University (Rockford) Drum and Bugle Corps turning Elsa all intellectual.

Seriously, give 2008 rules to the 1977 Phantom’s mostly high schoolers and they could easily have done “Spartacus” just as well. Could you modern DCers be able to produce anything with 1977 rules and equipment? Just a passive aggressive epiphany..

Thirty five years ago there was at least 450 historically archived(maybe 700 total) really good drum corps with mostly High Schoolers, playing music one could hear once yet remember until they start their Legacy Collection in 2011. Now there are music majors giving obscure, overly intellectual music theory lessons you can hear 20 times on youtube until DCI gets them taken down and not be able to remember after one brushes their teeth.

Note: There were so many shows(not just DCI Shows) on any given summer day that Drum Corps News despite devoting up to 9 pages could only report and thus archive maybe 40 to 60% of shows and thus corps. Shows the Cabs were in were omitted about 33% of the time. No one could with any validity come up with even an accurate number within a 20 count margin of error.

Thirty five years ago there was the 3rd of two decades of PBS DCI Broadcasts with up to 14 million viewers because everyone either was in a Corps or knew someone in a Drum Corps. No advertising was needed for their were so many Drum Corps Nuts in virtually every high school that word of mouth only was needed.

DCI’s last national broadcast on ESPN2 in Prime Time drew only 835,000 viewers, with considerable advertising in a nation with only 45 active junior Drum Corps.

Thirty five years ago, there were tens of thousands of drum corps age outs but more frequently high school graduates upon leaving who would have become Jets or Sharks rumbling, learning life changing lessons leading to law schools, med schools, LISW etc.

Now DCI has 85% of age outs with music and performance arts masters degrees asking paper or plastic hoping to someday be like “Mr. Shuster” on Glee getting the ten or so music jobs in an entire school district or college. OOH another jab. Trying to be nice.

Thirty five years ago, on any given summer day, one could find their Drum Corps News and find a really good Drum Corps show within a few hours. Now there are many states that haven’t hosted a Drum Corps since Autumn Leaves (at 3:14)-which didn’t receive a single deduction because there aren’t any for anything.

Thirty five years ago, a corps could compete in 40 shows against great corps without ever having to be more than a few hours from their hometown, where everyone in the corps lived. Now, drum corps have to travel days just to get to the next tour stop.

Thirty five years ago, a music or performance arts major wouldn’t have to fly anywhere to get a great music education. If there wasn’t a spot open in North Star, there would probably be one across town in 27 or Boston Crusader. A Stanford Major could choose between BD, SCV, Freelancers, Dons, et al all within the general Bay Area.

Thirty five years ago, there was the American International Open, U.S. Open, Key To The Sea which were outstanding community events filled with activities and revenue stimulation providing days’ long exposure to DC. Now there are DCI tours with corps that probably haven’t marched a parade, or done a local performance, to help provide fund raiser donators Drum Corps to see, since the Z-Pull, not the reverse.

Thirty five years ago, virtually every city or suburb had one to up to 6 really good corps. For example Boston courtesy of Father Gregg and ICR had 27th, NS,BC, Fitchburg Kingsmen and a few others I can’t think of right now. Wyoming was the only state with only one corps. There were city championships. Now, only Ohio and California could have a contested state championship.

Thirty four years ago, Jerry Noonan solos in Ole could be heard far away in the parking lots. Now, if the $45,000 and up amplification equipment doesn’t work, the crowd in the front row won’t be able to hear anything because the drills are so complex that most brass players don’t even play. Ooh. Why should they if a sound engineer can create the perfect sound. Maybe George Hopkins will get Drum Corps to perform to all recorded music with brass players doing a brass equivalent of lip sincing.

Thirty five years ago, most everyone knew of Drum Corps. Now Drum Corps has become totally disconnected from the public: no parades, few local performances no youtube allowed, few libraries with The Legacy Collection and about 90% of members don’t even live in the corps publically announced city’s state. And the first question I get when meeting former Caballaro is, “Is DCI and Drum Corps still alive?”

Thirty five years ago, Drum and Bugle Corps was part of the American landscape with a corps in virtually every parade, festival or other event. Now, DC’s have disappeared like are Soap Operas Disappearing.

Thirty five years ago, a High Schooler would see a poster about a drum corps practice in their music room. They might have to take a public bus or their falling apart Gremlin and begin a youth to adult commitment to the corps that taught them self worth. Now, members fly around the country auditioning hoping to “just get in a corps” so they can enhance their education and life that 85% of parents are financially supporting. The flight about $400, audition fee about $200. Most apply online to all corps all at one time.

As corps went to music majors, the public disconnect made fund raising less successful. A few years ago I was thinking about volunteering at the Bluecoats bingo about 40 minutes down I-77. But I found all sorts of stuff about how very few if any members are under 19, nor live in Canton or even Ohio and audition in Tennessee having a family’s income that can support them paying $3,000 in DC “tuition” to attend really expensive universities that have extensive music programs sacrificing 60 tour days not having a job to help pay for school. Triple ooh. I truly am trying to be nice.

If I and virtually all Americans want to go to a Bingo we are going to give money to needy causes-like AIDS, Homelessness, Pets, Domestic Abuse, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts etc. Thirty years ago, a Police Boys Club Bluecoats or Spirit TV telethon fund raiser would help someone under the age of 18 avoid a life of being a delinquent. Not a music student at Stark Sate or KSU Stark with parents that make $200K or more, I had to deal with in required classes for a Non Profit Administration Degree.

Seriously, let the parents of these members pay for the costs.

Many corps still fraudulently lists their mission statement as being a youth activity. Yet SCV and others expressly state, imply or govern members be at least 18 and not in High School. A youth is someone under 18.

If Secretary’s of State had the time, they should order drum corps to state their misson statement to be sarcastically like, “A recreational activity for legal age collegiates who want to avoid getting a summer job to pay for college, getting a degree that has virtually no market value.” Ooh another biting passive aggressive stab.

A donation to a college isn’t tax deductible, why should Drum Corps ?

Drum Corps are Educational Institutions for music majors seeking better employment possibilities-thus more profitable lives. It could be legally argued that their 501 c3 status should be revoked for corps are no longer social service organizations and everyone is directly out for a profit. Star of Indiana might have had the honest approach and just gone with all corporate sponsorship and not engage in fund raising.

Although Star of Indiana’s bizarrely overly intellectual not comprehendible shows of the 1990’s started the “artistic disconnect from a marketable audience” they at least had the integrity to overtly seek individual profit, not falsely be part of a “Non Profit Organization.”

Thirty five years ago, a corps could reach DCI Finals on a $80,000 budget entirely by fund raisers. Now, DCI won’t even let a corps compete without a million dollars budget. Their site even uses financial stability as criteria to entry.

Thirty five years ago, George Hopkins was a frustrated director of The Garfield Cadets that couldn’t make finals with traditional values and actual artistic rules while The Bridgemen were dqd for marching members over 21 and broke the rules.

Now George Hopkins influence has totally wiped out what was part of the American Landscape.

Steve Bayt
on Facebook.

#2 garfield

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:35 PM

Preface: This posting is being sent via e-mail to all available Drum Corps Directors and any other type of communication to George Hopkins who is most to blame for ruining Drum Corps. The next posting will deal with how Drum Corps artistically has been destroyed.


In 1977, The Phantom Regiment started the first of 4 years being the best but not being Champions. They were mostly high schoolers and a few college musicians from the Rockford Area that had no school district music programs. I fell in love with Phantom for who they were, not really what they played or marched.

In 2012, The Phantom Regiment will not likely care about avenging their parents', grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings 35th anniversary injustice. Nor will more than a few have ever read The Rockford Register Star, for they don't live there. Instead of avenging injustice, 80% are music or performance majors seeking to add something to their resume to supposedly get a music or performance job- in the second lowest employment placement.

Thirty five years ago, I cried for the first of four times for 128 Rockford High Schoolers who were in a social service organization providing a NEED not fulfilled by local school districts. Now, DC is more of an educational activity engaged by college Performing Arts Majors in colleges with entire music schools and dozens of musical opportunities that could easily use their own resources to have a Illinois University (Rockford) Drum and Bugle Corps turning Elsa all intellectual.

Seriously, give 2008 rules to the 1977 Phantom's mostly high schoolers and they could easily have done "Spartacus" just as well. Could you modern DCers be able to produce anything with 1977 rules and equipment? Just a passive aggressive epiphany..

Thirty five years ago there was at least 450 historically archived(maybe 700 total) really good drum corps with mostly High Schoolers, playing music one could hear once yet remember until they start their Legacy Collection in 2011. Now there are music majors giving obscure, overly intellectual music theory lessons you can hear 20 times on youtube until DCI gets them taken down and not be able to remember after one brushes their teeth.

Note: There were so many shows(not just DCI Shows) on any given summer day that Drum Corps News despite devoting up to 9 pages could only report and thus archive maybe 40 to 60% of shows and thus corps. Shows the Cabs were in were omitted about 33% of the time. No one could with any validity come up with even an accurate number within a 20 count margin of error.

Thirty five years ago there was the 3rd of two decades of PBS DCI Broadcasts with up to 14 million viewers because everyone either was in a Corps or knew someone in a Drum Corps. No advertising was needed for their were so many Drum Corps Nuts in virtually every high school that word of mouth only was needed.

DCI's last national broadcast on ESPN2 in Prime Time drew only 835,000 viewers, with considerable advertising in a nation with only 45 active junior Drum Corps.

Thirty five years ago, there were tens of thousands of drum corps age outs but more frequently high school graduates upon leaving who would have become Jets or Sharks rumbling, learning life changing lessons leading to law schools, med schools, LISW etc.

Now DCI has 85% of age outs with music and performance arts masters degrees asking paper or plastic hoping to someday be like "Mr. Shuster" on Glee getting the ten or so music jobs in an entire school district or college. OOH another jab. Trying to be nice.

Thirty five years ago, on any given summer day, one could find their Drum Corps News and find a really good Drum Corps show within a few hours. Now there are many states that haven't hosted a Drum Corps since Autumn Leaves (at 3:14)-which didn't receive a single deduction because there aren't any for anything.

Thirty five years ago, a corps could compete in 40 shows against great corps without ever having to be more than a few hours from their hometown, where everyone in the corps lived. Now, drum corps have to travel days just to get to the next tour stop.

Thirty five years ago, a music or performance arts major wouldn't have to fly anywhere to get a great music education. If there wasn't a spot open in North Star, there would probably be one across town in 27 or Boston Crusader. A Stanford Major could choose between BD, SCV, Freelancers, Dons, et al all within the general Bay Area.

Thirty five years ago, there was the American International Open, U.S. Open, Key To The Sea which were outstanding community events filled with activities and revenue stimulation providing days' long exposure to DC. Now there are DCI tours with corps that probably haven't marched a parade, or done a local performance, to help provide fund raiser donators Drum Corps to see, since the Z-Pull, not the reverse.

Thirty five years ago, virtually every city or suburb had one to up to 6 really good corps. For example Boston courtesy of Father Gregg and ICR had 27th, NS,BC, Fitchburg Kingsmen and a few others I can't think of right now. Wyoming was the only state with only one corps. There were city championships. Now, only Ohio and California could have a contested state championship.

Thirty four years ago, Jerry Noonan solos in Ole could be heard far away in the parking lots. Now, if the $45,000 and up amplification equipment doesn't work, the crowd in the front row won't be able to hear anything because the drills are so complex that most brass players don't even play. Ooh. Why should they if a sound engineer can create the perfect sound. Maybe George Hopkins will get Drum Corps to perform to all recorded music with brass players doing a brass equivalent of lip sincing.

Thirty five years ago, most everyone knew of Drum Corps. Now Drum Corps has become totally disconnected from the public: no parades, few local performances no youtube allowed, few libraries with The Legacy Collection and about 90% of members don't even live in the corps publically announced city's state. And the first question I get when meeting former Caballaro is, "Is DCI and Drum Corps still alive?"

Thirty five years ago, Drum and Bugle Corps was part of the American landscape with a corps in virtually every parade, festival or other event. Now, DC's have disappeared like are Soap Operas Disappearing.

Thirty five years ago, a High Schooler would see a poster about a drum corps practice in their music room. They might have to take a public bus or their falling apart Gremlin and begin a youth to adult commitment to the corps that taught them self worth. Now, members fly around the country auditioning hoping to "just get in a corps" so they can enhance their education and life that 85% of parents are financially supporting. The flight about $400, audition fee about $200. Most apply online to all corps all at one time.

As corps went to music majors, the public disconnect made fund raising less successful. A few years ago I was thinking about volunteering at the Bluecoats bingo about 40 minutes down I-77. But I found all sorts of stuff about how very few if any members are under 19, nor live in Canton or even Ohio and audition in Tennessee having a family's income that can support them paying $3,000 in DC "tuition" to attend really expensive universities that have extensive music programs sacrificing 60 tour days not having a job to help pay for school. Triple ooh. I truly am trying to be nice.

If I and virtually all Americans want to go to a Bingo we are going to give money to needy causes-like AIDS, Homelessness, Pets, Domestic Abuse, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts etc. Thirty years ago, a Police Boys Club Bluecoats or Spirit TV telethon fund raiser would help someone under the age of 18 avoid a life of being a delinquent. Not a music student at Stark Sate or KSU Stark with parents that make $200K or more, I had to deal with in required classes for a Non Profit Administration Degree.

Seriously, let the parents of these members pay for the costs.

Many corps still fraudulently lists their mission statement as being a youth activity. Yet SCV and others expressly state, imply or govern members be at least 18 and not in High School. A youth is someone under 18.

If Secretary's of State had the time, they should order drum corps to state their misson statement to be sarcastically like, "A recreational activity for legal age collegiates who want to avoid getting a summer job to pay for college, getting a degree that has virtually no market value." Ooh another biting passive aggressive stab.

A donation to a college isn't tax deductible, why should Drum Corps ?

Drum Corps are Educational Institutions for music majors seeking better employment possibilities-thus more profitable lives. It could be legally argued that their 501 c3 status should be revoked for corps are no longer social service organizations and everyone is directly out for a profit. Star of Indiana might have had the honest approach and just gone with all corporate sponsorship and not engage in fund raising.

Although Star of Indiana's bizarrely overly intellectual not comprehendible shows of the 1990's started the "artistic disconnect from a marketable audience" they at least had the integrity to overtly seek individual profit, not falsely be part of a "Non Profit Organization."

Thirty five years ago, a corps could reach DCI Finals on a $80,000 budget entirely by fund raisers. Now, DCI won't even let a corps compete without a million dollars budget. Their site even uses financial stability as criteria to entry.

Thirty five years ago, George Hopkins was a frustrated director of The Garfield Cadets that couldn't make finals with traditional values and actual artistic rules while The Bridgemen were dqd for marching members over 21 and broke the rules.

Now George Hopkins influence has totally wiped out what was part of the American Landscape.

Steve Bayt
on Facebook.


I owned a Gremlin with a V-8 in it. HOT CAR!

A donation to a public college is deductible. Tuition is not.

George Hopkins will take over the world.

The rest of your rant? Meh. Not impressive.

Lots of complaining and not much in the way of solutions or new ideas seem to be what old drum corps fans have learned.

I was there in '72.

Let's come up with some solutions, eh?
"nosce te ipsum", DCI. "nosce te ipsum".

#3 IllianaLancerContra

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:30 PM

In before the close!

#4 reallyoldfrt

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:54 PM

I owned a Gremlin with a V-8 in it. HOT CAR!

A donation to a public college is deductible. Tuition is not.

George Hopkins will take over the world.

The rest of your rant? Meh. Not impressive.

Lots of complaining and not much in the way of solutions or new ideas seem to be what old drum corps fans have learned.

I was there in '72.

Let's come up with some solutions, eh?


The sad truth is that there are no viable solutions. I started my drum corps experience in 1948. In my locale, Boston), there were literally hundreds of drum corps, covering a broad spectrum of quality levels. Any kid could join any one of them with absolutely no prior musical or marching experience, unless you count whistling and walking to school.

Drum corps flourished because it was cheap, required only a willingness to work at it. Many instructors couldn't read music, some might not have been able to read English. A soprano bugle cost about $45.00 USD. Same for a snare drum.

Junior drum corps was a youth activity, like the Boy Scouts, or Little League. That's all it was.

Of course there were talented people involved. We old F--Ts cherish them today. The point is that, nice though it was to have them, they were not a requirement. Very little talent was required.

Drum Corps was destined for the scrap heap as soon as the "youth activity", the cheapness, and the essentially local amateur nature were eliminated.

The second reason for the demise of a great activity is the fact that a few sharpies found ways to make themselves wealthy at the expense of the sweat and toil of innocent, naive young people, and their equally naive, gull able parents.

Feel free to disagree with me, but I believe that many of the big wheels in DCI are basically evil people, in it for their own personal; aggrandizement.

Can you hear me now??

Solutions? I'll mention a few, none of which have any chance of coming to pass.

1. Limit DCI to running prelim and one final for each class of corps. Everyone knows that these "quarterfinals", and "semifinals" are pure BS, whose only purpose is to sell more tickets to swell the coffers of DCI.

2. Establish a one hundred mile radius from each corps stated hometown in which each corps can recruit members. If you can't compete with your own homegrown citizens, too #### bad.

3 Re-establish local competition circuits for corps in each region to test their skills.

4. Eliminate any requirement for prior musical or physical expertise. Force these alleged "music educators" to actually teach newbies how to play. Then we'll find out who the real music educators are.

5. Outlaw all salaries, or other monetary considerations for all Corps Directors and administrative staff. Corps managers were all unpaid in the heyday. Don't want to do it for the love of the activity? Then go get a real job.

6. Severely curtail the compensation for all instructors. And insist that they, too, come from within a hundred mile radius of the corps they teach. You either love the activity, or you're a circling shark.

7. Outlaw all non-carry able percussion equipment with the exception of tympani. This is drum and bugle corps we're trying to save here. The expense of all this stuff does not warrant it's artistic contribution.

8. Outlaw amplification, theatrical sets, and all guard equipment except flags, rifles, and sabers. Corps should not need stagehands.

9. Limit each corps to 90 total performers. If you can't present an effective show with 90 people you might want to try another career. 90 people can also travel in 2 buses. More money saved.

10. Eliminate all salaries for DCI office and staff. Again, you're either doing it for for love, or you're a phony.

11. Attendance at the DCI Championships should be strictly voluntary, with no pressure to "be there, or die", as it is today.

12. Institute a completely new way of selecting and qualifying judges, eliminating unnecessary educational requirements, and curtailing salaries

So you can see, this is all impossible. Do I want to return the activity to a 1969 level? uh....yes.

Expenses must be drastically cut! Access must be open to all. Regionalism must be re-established. Touring, as we now know it must be eliminated. The finals should be the only time that the nation's corps get together. Just like the "Good old days", when the activity actually was in full flower.










#5 garfield

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:17 PM

The sad truth is that there are no viable solutions.


So let me get this straight... The "good ole' days" had:

No money
Few instructors who were qualified to called instructors
Unqualified judges
A governing body where everyone worked for free
Thousands of kids expecting to participate when no one could afford the equipment

and, despite all that, you ask if I want the activity to revert to those "good ole' days"?

Well, at least then I would be able to relate to Greek austerity.

No thanks.

Looking at the political/demographic times of when you started ('48) every Dad and Mom wanted their kids to do something after so many years of not being able to do anything. Today is nothing like those days.
"nosce te ipsum", DCI. "nosce te ipsum".

#6 elphaba01

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 04:27 PM

So let me get this straight... The "good ole' days" had:

No money
Few instructors who were qualified to called instructors
Unqualified judges
A governing body where everyone worked for free
Thousands of kids expecting to participate when no one could afford the equipment

and, despite all that, you ask if I want the activity to revert to those "good ole' days"?

Well, at least then I would be able to relate to Greek austerity.

No thanks.

Looking at the political/demographic times of when you started ('48) every Dad and Mom wanted their kids to do something after so many years of not being able to do anything. Today is nothing like those days.



"The Good Olde Days":

Actually, there WAS "Money". Not nearly as much as what is needed in the era of "DCI" to allow a corps to survive, but enough to provide a good musical & competitive activity for practically anyone who cared to participate. True, we didn't "Tour" for two months, and "Nationals" was "Volentary", no one twisted your arm to go. Our "Season" started in May and ran through October.

If you are calling instructors arrangers such as Hy Drietzer, Frank Bergdoll, Al Saia, Joe Genero, Truman Crawford, Don Angelica, Sal Farrara, Bob Bunce, Keith Markey, Gail Royer, John Sasso, Emil Pavlick, Bobby Thompson, Earl Sturtze, Ray Ludee and Cliff Fisher "Unqualified", you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.

The judges of that era (Which included such names as Don Angelica, Truman Crawford, Rick Maas, Gail Royer, Sandra Opie, the Muras, Jim Costello and so many many more were as "Qualified" as the 'credentialed' adjudicators of tody.

In my time in junior deum (1957-1968) corps I NEVER saw anyone turned away for any reason Anyone comming through our doors was given the oppertunity to participate. Unlike today, there were no budget busting "Auditio Fees", "Tuitions" or 'Auditions" for that matter. The unit , in most cases started from scratch and trained it's own members. There was never a "Shortageo of eqipment". Everyone was provided for.

You can rest your mind at ease. The "Activity" has NO CHANCE of ever reverting back to the "Good Old days". Don't lose any sleep over it.

The 'Good Old days' are long gone.

Sadly.

Elphaba
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"And did she ever come out?"
"Not yet."

#7 GUARDLING

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 05:17 PM

So let me get this straight... The "good ole' days" had:

No money
Few instructors who were qualified to called instructors
Unqualified judges
A governing body where everyone worked for free
Thousands of kids expecting to participate when no one could afford the equipment

and, despite all that, you ask if I want the activity to revert to those "good ole' days"?

Well, at least then I would be able to relate to Greek austerity.

No thanks.

Looking at the political/demographic times of when you started ('48) every Dad and Mom wanted their kids to do something after so many years of not being able to do anything. Today is nothing like those days.

isn't it funny how people look back with such selective memories...Human nature :rolleyes:

#8 reallyoldfrt

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 05:39 PM

isn't it funny how people look back with such selective memories...Human nature :rolleyes:


The person above should demonstrate to any thoughtful reader exactly the current, elitist, closed club mentality that pervades the money minded population of the pitifully few corps that still exist in the activity.

I think I mentioned there were talented people in the "good ole days". People that we revere as treasures. They worked for gas, or lunch money. They taught kids who wouldn't know a bugle from a Chevrolet. They got music out of those kids. So did people that some current snobs would dismiss as "unqualified". The horn line of my corps was taught , for gas money, by a guy named Harry Rogers. Harry was a legendary arranger, and partner of Artie Shaw, and principle arranger for the Artie Shaw Orchestra, and others. As a sideman he played in many bands, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, and others. You may have heard of them.

Just because all the instructors in the GODs worked for the love of music, and of drum corps didn't make them bums. They were dedicated music educators. Elitist Pr--ks, like the guy up the page, make me ill.

Because of this funnyman, and the legions who have become used to gorging on the kids sweat, makes it all too clear how vampires enjoy their current popularity.

Besides, remember, this is all a pipe dream.




#9 garfield

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 05:49 PM

The sad truth is that there are no viable solutions. I started my drum corps experience in 1948. In my locale, Boston), there were literally hundreds of drum corps, covering a broad spectrum of quality levels. Any kid could join any one of them with absolutely no prior musical or marching experience, unless you count whistling and walking to school.

Drum corps flourished because it was cheap, required only a willingness to work at it. Many instructors couldn't read music, some might not have been able to read English. A soprano bugle cost about $45.00 USD. Same for a snare drum.

Junior drum corps was a youth activity, like the Boy Scouts, or Little League. That's all it was.

Of course there were talented people involved. We old F--Ts cherish them today. The point is that, nice though it was to have them, they were not a requirement. Very little talent was required.

Drum Corps was destined for the scrap heap as soon as the "youth activity", the cheapness, and the essentially local amateur nature were eliminated.

The second reason for the demise of a great activity is the fact that a few sharpies found ways to make themselves wealthy at the expense of the sweat and toil of innocent, naive young people, and their equally naive, gull able parents.

Feel free to disagree with me, but I believe that many of the big wheels in DCI are basically evil people, in it for their own personal; aggrandizement.

Can you hear me now??

Solutions? I'll mention a few, none of which have any chance of coming to pass.

1. Limit DCI to running prelim and one final for each class of corps. Everyone knows that these "quarterfinals", and "semifinals" are pure BS, whose only purpose is to sell more tickets to swell the coffers of DCI.

2. Establish a one hundred mile radius from each corps stated hometown in which each corps can recruit members. If you can't compete with your own homegrown citizens, too #### bad.

3 Re-establish local competition circuits for corps in each region to test their skills.

4. Eliminate any requirement for prior musical or physical expertise. Force these alleged "music educators" to actually teach newbies how to play. Then we'll find out who the real music educators are.

5. Outlaw all salaries, or other monetary considerations for all Corps Directors and administrative staff. Corps managers were all unpaid in the heyday. Don't want to do it for the love of the activity? Then go get a real job.

6. Severely curtail the compensation for all instructors. And insist that they, too, come from within a hundred mile radius of the corps they teach. You either love the activity, or you're a circling shark.

7. Outlaw all non-carry able percussion equipment with the exception of tympani. This is drum and bugle corps we're trying to save here. The expense of all this stuff does not warrant it's artistic contribution.

8. Outlaw amplification, theatrical sets, and all guard equipment except flags, rifles, and sabers. Corps should not need stagehands.

9. Limit each corps to 90 total performers. If you can't present an effective show with 90 people you might want to try another career. 90 people can also travel in 2 buses. More money saved.

10. Eliminate all salaries for DCI office and staff. Again, you're either doing it for for love, or you're a phony.

11. Attendance at the DCI Championships should be strictly voluntary, with no pressure to "be there, or die", as it is today.

12. Institute a completely new way of selecting and qualifying judges, eliminating unnecessary educational requirements, and curtailing salaries

So you can see, this is all impossible. Do I want to return the activity to a 1969 level? uh....yes.

Expenses must be drastically cut! Access must be open to all. Regionalism must be re-established. Touring, as we now know it must be eliminated. The finals should be the only time that the nation's corps get together. Just like the "Good old days", when the activity actually was in full flower.



I so reminisce for those days. I marched then. I was there. I visited Gail in Santa Clara. Was in awe of BD's facilities (I was visiting). The corps I marched in hosted a major regional show. I went for the whole day and saw how the kids lived. I couldn't wait to march. It was grand time. But...

Today...

Drum corps instructors teaching newbies to play? Why bother? The schools teach more than enough kids to play.

Volunteer staff? It's there today in a small form. But today's staff produce professional productions, and isn't that better entertainment than the "amateur" days? They work all year to produce shows that put the shows of the "good ole' days" to shame. I'd rather pay to see today's productions than sit through '77 again for free.

Back then drum corps was about getting kids off the streets after surviving the depression and the war. Today we don't need that function (while it's always welcome). There's so much for kids to do today that drum corps filling that role is unnecessary, despite its high value. Back then it was the swelling patriotism after defeating the world that prompted Moms and Dads to get their kids into military-style activities (Boy Scouts included). After 9/11 how long did the American flags stay up? The comparison is sad, but true.

Yes, the drum corps that we grew up on is gone. But so is the 1976 Vega I drove, and the V-8 Gremlin (death trap) after it.

Much of the sentiment of our days gone by should be preserved. But much of what DC stood for back then is passe, unnecessary, and un-needed today.

It's actually a very positive sign that kids today can get what DC offered in those days from many different activities.

But that's the primary reason why DC is not as widespread today as it was "back then". It has little to do with volunteer instructors or million-dollar shows, IMO.

Finding ways to enjoy what the activity does for the (small) group of kids it serves today is really the only way to not be bitter about where DC has come.

Just look at the kid's faces when they finish their show and the crowd is screaming. That, at least, hasn't changed much in all these years.
"nosce te ipsum", DCI. "nosce te ipsum".

#10 DrillmanSop06

DrillmanSop06

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:59 PM

tl;dr

Go. Away. Because no one cares.
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