Year Fiver

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    2014

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  1. Not every open class corps wants to be world class; the move upward comes with a whole new set of fiscal responsibilities, board responsibilities, increased touring logistics, etc. If all-instrument were passed for open class only, how would that enable open class corps to become wold class? Wouldn't the dependence on woodwind bodies hinder their ability to move into the division which doesn't allow them? Most corps are, in fact, having ensemble in the rain. Corps are only required to have policies submitted to DCI for lightning and other hazardous weather, but rain itself is not a hazard, even to the point of downpour. Even as recently as 2019, corps have been rehearsing in the rain. The pit does what it's always done--they set up canopies and/or cover their equipment with tarps depending on how bad the rain is, but moving indoors is only an ultimate last resort ever, even for them. Brass and drumlines are expected to throw on their raincoats and continue moving and playing through heavy rain. Woodwinds do not have the pit option of staying stationary under canopies/tarps if they are integrated into the drill, and they do not have the option of continuing to play like the other mobile membership do.
  2. For Soundsport championships, there's no box, so the judges sit in the bleachers, in a blocked-off section that could easily seat over a dozen if not two dozen spectators. And since those judges do make tapes, I would imagine that buffer is the ideal situation for them, especially since no one gets to impede their view or distract them otherwise. I would venture that this is one of the things they're looking at now, to deliberate on later--whether or not there are places within each stadium which could accommodate a judge and whether or not ticket sales can take the hit of unavailable seating. DCI policy currently requests that staff who watch shows from staff viewing areas which are in or near spectator seating zones be respectful of fans and limit their own noise and distracting behavior. Although nobody really follows that rule, or many of the other public-facing courtesy rules, honestly.
  3. Currently, neither woodwinds nor strings are allowed in any musical capacity, whether on the field or in the pit. String instruments that have been featured during the past few years have only been allowed because they're classified as electronics, ie they are electric violins, electric guitars, etc (or they were prop instruments "played" by actors, with their "music" being produced by a synth). The proposal, as written, would have allowed for any instrument to be used in any capacity, both on the field and in the pit, as a section or as a solo. So corps A could have changed nothing, corps B could have featured a woodwind soloist in the pit, and corps C could have fielded a full woodwind/strings line for the whole show in the drill, and those would have all been legal.
  4. "The collective sum of individual corps" means individual corps understood in relation to each other individual corps, and can refer to a subset of corps which does not match the subset of all corps. It's entirely for DCI in its "governing body" form to have ideals and initiatives which actively work against the interests of not only one individual corps, but several individual corps. The activity is governed by representatives of (most, but not all) corps, not by every single person involved with a corps in a meaningful capacity, and not by representatives of every single corps. There are examples all the time of corps directors with visions that oppose those of their membership, their design teams, their logistics admin, etc, and especially examples of world class DCI members seeking only to benefit their own organizations, and not, for example, open class groups. It's not unreasonable to say that what benefits DCI as a governing body/activity/events organizer/collective of corps directors does not necessarily benefit corps as individual units/businesses/educational organizations. People have given plenty of examples of ways in which the passing of any given proposal could disproportionately financially burden certain classes of corps, and that logic works in the same vein--"government" is meaningfully distinct from "representation of everybody's interests." As for my rationale in my first paragraph, that's the rationale given in the interview, as rephrased in more explicit terms by me. If you think there's a flaw, then surely that's a flaw that exists in the logistics of the proposal itself. If you think there's a flaw, why don't you identify and substantiate it so that a meaningful discussion can ensue? My same point has been similarly made by others as well: I agree that the only source of new revenue that was identified is ticket sales to woodwind players. However DCI is already marketed to bands and because there are already so many woodwind fans of the activity who either don't intend to march or who take it upon themselves to learn an applicable skill so they can march; thus this is not actually a "new" source of revenue, nor would it ultimately constitute additional revenue. Again, those who are interested are already in the stands and it's not like stadiums are getting bigger, so there's ultimately still that ticket cap either way. My original comment was meant to point out that the things which were identified as "new revenue" are actually only ostensibly new, and that because of a fundamental misunderstanding of how audience membership and fan engagement works, this "new" audience would not ultimately lead to additional revenue beyond what DCI currently brings in.
  5. It's "new" revenue for DCI because they're expecting woodwind players who aren't currently interested in the activity to become interested, primarily as audience members. Thus, it's "new" revenue in that there's a new audience, but it's not "revenue" in the sense of being able to ultimately sell more tickets or anything, since it's not like stadiums are getting bigger. It's also not about "more" money, it's about "new" money. The proposal also focuses only on revenue for DCI, not for the collective sum of individual corps.
  6. The difference between woodwinds and pit electronics is that pit electronics don't move. On tour, the pit can be covered by canopies. If woodwinds were to be marching members incorporated into the drill like the proposal heavily implies they should be, what would the procedure for inconvenient weather be? The horn and drum lines continue rehearsing as they normally would up until the point of lightning, no matter how heavy the rain is or how muddy the ground is. Woodwinds can't do that. In marching band, woodwind players are typically told to put their instruments away and continue marching drill when it rains, but losing that kind of horn-holding and play time on tour would be an immense detriment. People only think about the finished product of a show, wherein of course mic'ing is a simple enough solution, but what about tour itself? The fact of the matter is that tour involves water, mud, sunscreen, sweat, and so many other things that woodwinds are not built to stand up against. There's a world of difference between the logistics of putting a woodwind soloist in the pit (where they can be shielded from the elements, practice their own part indoors in climate controlled environments for long periods of time, and where their absence during ensemble wouldn't be terribly missed if need be), versus having an entire woodwind section that marches the entire show as such.
  7. Nothing within the actual proposal addresses it, but it's pretty clear that marching woodwinds as a section with comparative visual and musical responsibilities to the brass and drumline wouldn't be feasible without at least one of many massive overhauls. Woodwinds as instruments have a lot of inherent flaws which make them impractical for tour-style outdoor use (rehearsing in downpours, getting covered in dirt/chemicals, complete lack of climate control at all times). Even initiatives that others have proposed such as increased member capacity do not address this.
  8. Yes. My point was that there's rationale for somebody with voting power to not want to pass the proposal as a rule. Considering the original question was , I was operating within the logical premise of the original question. None of us have the ability to "make it legal" (nor does any individual really, since this is a collective vote among a few dozen corps). If anything, you can reformulate this discussion as "why [would voting corps] not just make it all legal and let [individual corps] decide [whether to expand their operations within the bounds of the new rule]?" and "because [reasons why voting corps would not want to make it all legal]."
  9. Because this proposal itself is poorly conceived, and passing a poorly outlined initiative like this one will lead to poor execution. If you want to go forth with big and new changes, you have to have all the pieces already set and have as many failsafe plans as possible to address obvious risks. The longform proposal is the absolute least elaborative out of all of this year's submissions, because it identifies so few of the glaringly obvious issues, and those it does identify, it merely handwaves over. If you're going to vote for something, vote for something that inspires confidence, not some hacked together job that wants to shift all burdens of responsibility onto corps instead of doing the responsible governing body thing and working out meaningful details and logistics until the point where the obvious benefits speak for themselves instead of having to be defended with "well why not?"'s by random people on the internet.
  10. Manufacturers have not been able to solve the problems that I brought up, that's my point. Outdoor use pit equipment has only just become available in the past few years, and it's prohibitively expensive and still requires having one set for rehearsal and one normal set for performances, which is not only a large up-fron cost for corps, but also requires extra storage space. Marching-grade trombones are not widely available yet, and neither are drum corps-grade amps. Allowing woodwinds isn't going to push brands to cater to the drum corps "market" unless there is also a market which benefits the wider marching community, and the fact of the matter is that other marching units which contain woodwinds are not incentive enough; they either perform/rehearse indoors exclusively, they only perform/rehearse for a few hours at a time a few times a week, and/or their membership/directors are not interested in owning instruments that are made for marching when their concert equivalents which are more widely applicable for musical ensembles will suffice. If I recall correctly, the horn doctors that help DCI are largely volunteers. However anybody running a mobile instrument repair unit should actually be certified in instrument repair, which I have been told is an incredibly challenging certification to obtain, due to the high cost of tuition and the extremely limited number of programs in the US. And the majority of people who are properly and certifiably skilled aren't interested in running a mobile shop or necessarily working with drum corps. The queues to have a horn repaired by a horn doctor (if one is present at a show, since it's a fairly rare occurrence overall) get pretty long and ultimately require somebody from admin (and a vehicle) staying behind to be able to pick up the horn when it's ready; you only go to the horn doctor when you absolutely have to, and a dented bell or a broken water key is not a good enough reason to justify the logistical burden. Likewise, the hypothetical existence of woodwind doctors doesn't negate any of the other problems inherent to woodwind instruments, for example their higher susceptibility to being damaged than marching brass. For corps who would own their woodwinds, this means not only the upfront cost of purchasing the instruments, but also the ongoing costs of maintaining them, which is so much higher than the ongoing costs associated with marching brass. I already acknowledged that there's no rule preventing corps from allowing their students to bring their own horns, when I said that I've known people who have just done that within DCA and Soundsport. I listed what would stop a student from doing just that (or a parent from allowing their student to do that), but what would stop DCI corps is their own best interests, ie: Like I also said before, DCI strives for a certain standard of musicality and performance, and having a line of matching horn makes/models is hugely beneficial for not only sound quality and visual aesthetics, but also for musical and visual pedagogy.
  11. It doesn't matter who paid for the horn--it's nonetheless true that damage incurred would negatively impact the quality of that person's personally owned horn. You can also take care of the horn you use on the field as well as you want, but the nature of DCI is that dings, grime, tarnish, and other damage are inevitable and ultimately unavoidable. If a bit of choreo requires you to place your instrument on the ground and your rehearsal field for the day is muddy, you now have mud under your keys. That's time-consuming enough to deal with on a marching horn (I specifically had a breakdown because of this once after rolling around in a mud puddle for half an hour because I had an EPL corps job and knew I wouldn't have adequate time to detail clean my mud-caked horn). If you come in with a non-marching trumpet, it's going to fare even worse. And with a woodwind with all those keys and moving parts? Infinitely more time-consuming, not to mention that I don't think cleaning a mud-filled saxophone is as logistically simple as showering with it. And certainly parents wouldn't want to shell out for two instruments so their kid can have one practice horn and one performance horn. There is absolutely no way to reasonably prevent sunscreen, bug spray, dirt, dust, sweat, and other grime form getting on you/your instrument/any of your possessions in general while on tour, no matter how hard you try, but the intention of rehearsal gloves is to mitigate as much of that as possible. Marching gloves designed for woodwind players are fingerless, but allowing your bare skin to come in contact with your instrument is antithetical to maintaining its lacquer when it comes to a drum corps context, so the question of where the happy balance would lay between "playability" and "protection" is up in the air. In that vein, parents cannot be relied upon to understand musical equipment because the average band parent isn't actually a knowledgeable musician themselves. My elementary school band director told horror stories about kids coming in with those plastic pink "trumpets" they sell at parades, expecting to learn how to play them. The beauty of corps providing equipment is that they can avoid the problems of parents or students picking out equipment that isn't quality--no cheap Indian/Chinese off-model horns, no budget student horns, etc. Having your instrument insured by the corps instead of being maintained directly out of your own pocket is a really big deal that shouldn't be disregarded. When my brand new corps horn got a big dent in the bell because a flag came down on it, I wasn't charged by my corps for damages, because that was obviously a situation out of my control and it would have been wrong to fault me for it. Even the absolute best marchers can still fall when the ground under them is slick or when somebody else misses their dot, and falling puts an instrument at risk in ways that indoor performance doesn't have to deal with. When horn members on tour break their water keys or lose a valve guide, those parts can be easily replaced by corps staff, because the models used in the line are already standardized and have so few moving parts anyways that having spare bits onhand is logistically very simple, not to mention that the horn doctor is a godsend. Having a line of mixed makes/models adds logistics, as does adding new instruments that use different moving bits--especially if you introduce multiple classes of woodwinds into the equation, and especially if those woodwinds are also different makes/models amongst each other. If somebody were to bring their own horn, should the responsibility of maintenance and spare parts be shifted onto them personally, as well? Would this hypothetical open class member be sent off on tour with not only two identical instruments (practice and performance), but potentially also a third to cannibalize for parts if necessary? I'm also not even sure where woodwinds would keep their reeds on tour, since both rehearsal bags and buses are incredibly hot and not climate controlled, and anything left in the gym is liable to be stolen. Additionally, would they have to bring a summer's worth of reeds with them from the start, or would they have to pray that mail drops and free days work out? The fact that instruments aren't built for those kinds of heavy duty conditions is already a problem with equipment that is allowed, for example trombones (which are made of thinner metal and have an oh-so-bendable protruding slide which is exposed to hazards even when not playing) and soloist concert horns (which are not durable like marching horns) getting damaged on tour has been a problem, and a common workaround is to use separate rehearsal and performance horns. It's a problem within the land of electronics, too, because the electronic equipment that corps are currently using aren't built to handle 24/7 exposure to the elements. The way that many woodwind players in college marching bands mitigate many of these problems is by buying plastic versions of their instruments, so that their nice concert horns won't be wrecked by outdoor band (see: pbones, plastic clarinets, etc). However it's fair to say that these don't produce the kind of quality musical sound that DCI tends to strive for in ways that many college marching ensembles don't necessarily. If a kid shows up to a DCI camp with a subpar instrument, that's a detriment to the corps' performance capabilities, and yet a quality instrument wouldn't be able to stand up to the elements. Advocating for more and more types of equipment to be allowed in drum corps is kind of putting the cart before the horse when that equipment is incredibly difficult to maintain; if I had my way, I would say we should be lobbying instrument manufacturers to make more drum corps-grade electronics, pit equipment, and non-traditional brass instruments (trombones, concert soloist horns) at a corps-affordable price range first, or maybe see what we can do about making climate controlled storage or regular instrument deep cleaning more consistently possible. I'll repeat: it's ultimately not in anyone's best interest for a student to bring their own horn to do corps.
  12. It's not necessarily that students can't use their own instruments, it's that it's not in the interest of corps to allow it. I've seen people use their own horns in DCA and Soundsport, but a line made up of the same make and model produces better ensemble look/sound and is also better for cohesive teaching. But for students, I would imagine an issue might be the fact that if they bring their own instrument, it wouldn't be insured by the corps, and thus any damages incurred would negatively impact the quality of that person's personally owned horn.
  13. I'm so excited to see who uses the first motorcycle on the field! (obviously kidding in good fun)
  14. I think you would get a kick out of reading the longform proposal submissions. The live sampling proposal actually goes into the Bluecoats' reasoning, which essentially boils down to "this effect is already achieved through rule-compliant, roundabout means anyways" and "it makes more sense for the education of our membership to do it the real way instead. It doesn't seem like they particularly have a new use in mind, just that they want to do the same things they and other corps have been doing, but without all the extra effort of having to program a synth board in a way that's completely counter to how professional performers would in real life.
  15. A tangent from the original discussion, but "increase the 154" is only well and good until you've actually worked support staff and logistics for a corps. 154 fits neatly onto four buses with just enough seats left over for alternates and equipment, so any additional bodies would require at least one additional bus, and empty seats is a wasted investment in a vehicle. Making ~250 servings per meal is already a gargantuan task for a single two-oven food truck as it is, so increasing the maximum by any more than a few bodies would require either a second food truck or a radical restructuring of how meals work (and we were already making so much progress away from pizza/hotdog/spaghetti rotations!), plus almost every corps is already consistently short on volunteers as it is. And since the max capacity of a food truck fridge and pantry are already limited, you would either have to invest in more vehicles with fridges/usable space or you would have to go on even more frequent shopping runs, which are a huge drain on admin time. You might also potentially have to think about throwing in an extra equipment truck if you get too big or have too much equipment to transport, and all these vehicles really add up, what with gas, number of drivers available (never enough), chartering, and maintenance. The logistics surrounding parking at shows is also quite a nightmare at some venues, and that's something I've heard firsthand from somebody who does do that job for DCI. Staff, admin, and volunteers already get shoehorned into practice rooms, classrooms, hallways, locker rooms, and all kinds of other less-than-ideal sleeping situations as it is, because even the schools that are willing to house 200+ people only have so many nice, open areas they can offer forth or are otherwise willing to risk damage to, so loss of housing sites and dramatically increased difficulty of finding places for everybody to sleep is also a consideration. Without a proposal to bring in fresh volunteer/support staff faces, aid in funding for the extra expenses, and ease the massive burden that logistics already pose, advocating for an increase to the size of competing units is an empty platitude. Not to mention that growing corps that already have too many auditionees to handle does nothing about prospective memberships' disinterest in the other corps that are barely making numbers as-is.