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Mellomad

How do we save Drum Corps

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I don't know about Canada, but I don't think you can back up your statement with facts concerning the United States. Even with budget cuts, there are still a limited number of schools that have actually eliminated their marching bands. The cuts are usually focused on other aspects of the band/music program.

Ohio alone has over 1,000 high school marching bands. There are over 20,000 high school marching bands in the United States. There are also several hundred college marching bands to add to the mix.

DCI audition camps, thanks to these marching bansd, have thousands of kids turning out every year for both World and Open class.

The problem with marching bands tied to high schools is that most of those bands don't really represent much of an opportunity for the kids. Most of those bands march out onto the field, play a tune, move some, play another tune, move a little more, and call that a show. Along with a couple of parades, they're technically a marching band, but barely. There may not be much interest by the kids or the parents or the school in building a better program than that. But if there are opportunities outside marching band for the kids who do have an interest in going beyond the most minimal definition of "marching band", then that's good for the marching arts and good for those kids.

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I agree to some degree that Marching Band has replaced the local drum corps however, I have been a Band Director for over 30 years and if you think the Marching activity will continue your nuts. I have had about 20 kids over the past 5 years want to go into the music field and I have told them to have a double major because big cuts are coming and you better have a back-up plan.

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I agree that corps need to become stronger financially, but I think that's a big part of DCI's responsibility. If corps are falling short and at risk of failing, they should be given help in becoming self-sustaining, not just left to survive or perish on their own.

If that were truly the case, where the management of the most successful corps were expected to help bail out the corps who are failing, you would drive every talented manager from the most successful corps. Running a non-profit org is some of the most stressful work there is already, and there's no reason to believe that anyone would volunteer to deal with their own stress PLUS taking on additional work for another unrelated org whose management made some bad decisions, had some bad luck (it happens), or otherwise is at death's door. Corps like SCV, Cavaliers, etc, have enough to do keeping themselves solvent, without having to also worry about everyone else's finances.

As previously noted, school marching band is already doing what local drum corps used to do. The days of a bunch of urban urchins hanging around the corner saloon until Father O'Brien turns them into a drum and bugle corps were neat, but today, if the kid has an interest in playing an instrument, there are already free or cheap programs available through the majority of school programs out there, and the quality of instruction is light years ahead of what passed for musical training back in the day when kids were taught to play horns by rote and a soprano player was a star in the hornline if he could actually read music.

If you want to grow the number of competing outside musical performing units, you'll need to create a new format that is demonstrably different from the standard drum corps model, most Blast! and less Pioneer. Smaller stage, wide open array of acceptable styles, and pretty wide-ranging choices in terms of instrumentation. Costumes rather than uniforms. Thinking WGI? Good, because they're the model of how to grow local participation in a marching activity, not drum corps.

Edited by mobrien
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I agree that corps need to become stronger financially, but I think that's a big part of DCI's responsibility.

No. It is the responsibility of the management team and board of the individual organizations that produce these corps. Their purpose supersedes the fact of even the existence of DCI.

If corps are falling short and at risk of failing, they should be given help in becoming self-sustaining, not just left to survive or perish on their own.

How many corps did Cook bail out? Of those, how many are still around today? As much as you can love the activity, sometimes bailing out simply enables poor management.

Corps should not be given help in becoming self-sustaining... they should be self-sustaining from day 1.

You seem to be of the opinion that every failure is a good thing, and that a corps that can't weather a particular run of bad luck or which lacks the expertise or connections to build a funding stream fast enough to capture whatever momentum there is behind their growth deserves to fail. That's a sure way to see the activity go away entirely, and I think it's a poisonous way to look at the world in general.

The only thing wrong with failure is if you don't get back up. Yes, sometimes there is bad luck or bad timing or acts of God/Elvis/Godzilla or whatever you might believe in. This happens. Is this failure? Only if you stay down.

From simply a business perspective, had many corps chosen to live within their means at specific times... and followed the old adage "never let it get below a quarter tank", there would be a lot more around.

One thing I can definitely say is that a lot of corps spend too much for the amount of money they take in. Might be better for some corps thinking of quickly moving up to World Class to take a couple of years back, invest extra money into opportunities for new and sustainable sources of revenue... then plow forward in a much stronger way that ensures they'll be around for awhile.

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Are there activities in Canada that drum corps could latch on to like pipe bands, brass bands, etc.? That might be a good place to start.

Excellent point. I'll be teaching a Sea Cadet band starting in the fall. I have also volunteered to help with the revitalization of the provincial drum corps circuit which once upon a time was known as ODCA (will probably be something different this go-around). I'd love to see the kids I teach have a local corps to go to when they age out of Sea Cadets at age 18.

I think that, as you suggest, whatever the new ODCA is will have to think seriously about incorporating different forms of marching arts and create some synergistic relationships with the other groups out there.

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I agree to some degree that Marching Band has replaced the local drum corps however, I have been a Band Director for over 30 years and if you think the Marching activity will continue your nuts. I have had about 20 kids over the past 5 years want to go into the music field and I have told them to have a double major because big cuts are coming and you better have a back-up plan.

Budget cuts to the arts are only made because they are allowed to be made.

Activities that are cut first are those that have the least support/representation on the school boards or are the least vocal in the community. If it is made out to be a priority in the community, it will be.

Arts are often cut first because supporters are too cerebral about it not quite as confrontational as others.

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If that were truly the case, where the management of the most successful corps were expected to help bail out the corps who are failing, you would drive every talented manager from the most successful corps.

Agreed - I don't think the G8 should be held responsible for the success of the local parade unit.

Which is another reason I advocate local circuits with weekend only competitions and sustainable operations that can stand on their own. Trickle-down doesn't work....

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Star did exactly that.

I guarantee you there will be corps in finals over the next 10-15 years that don't even exist now.

Star was both an anomoly and an exception. They're dead...dead as a doornail.

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Star was both an anomoly and an exception. They're dead...dead as a doornail.

How is Star an anomaly and an exception? In my view, it seems like a model to absolutely go other there and try to copy.

Why can't another organization simply follow a similar formula?

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If you want to save and grow drum corps, you must rid the world of electronics

X Box

Cell phones that play games

computers and the internet

A/C

All of these afford many kids the excuse to sit on their butts in the AC all summer long and only socialize through Facebook and the like :ph34r:

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