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JimF-LowBari

Replacing Our Losses in Corps Numbers

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And you can pretend that the U.S. Open (the first major contest to become DCI-sanctioned, in 1972) was just "filler" to the 60-80 corps on it's lineup in a given year. And that's just one example....but I digress.

Again you mis-represent the reality of DCI's impact at it's dawn in an attempt to blame DCI for the failures of so many corps back then, but that's OK.

It was a simple request, Mike. Stay on topic. I even said "please". This thread asked for ideas, possible solutions. I gave some. Do you have any, or are you here solely to poke holes in ours?

I was responding to someone who posted incorrect information. You did not have to chime in with your incorrect info.

Idea....add WW and electronics in a new division right now, or add them to div III first. It might help those smaller corps on the edge of survival to attract new members from local bands...i.e. the WW players.

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Here are enough ideas to really put DCI and friends "on tilt".

I encourage your thoughtful replies!

Principles to Promote Growth

1. Share the wealth; don't consolidate it

a) Reduce Div I corps size--make "talent" available to many corps across all divisions

B) Encourage actions (see following proposals) to encourage "parity" while celebrating "quality" among all corps (remove stigma of "big 4 (or 5) (or 6)")

c) Increase DCI and BOA interaction (DCI as summer enhancement of BOA activities; BOA as winter training/improvement of talent for DCI activity)

2. Enhance/actively support local and regional activities

a) DCI makes substantial monetary and organizational commitment to an

eight-show regional season in each of six areas of the country (Northeast/Mid-Atlantic; Southeast; Midwest; Southwest; Pacific coast (south), Pacific coast (north))

B) Eight-show regional season includes Div I/II/III corps and extends from mid-June through 1st week in August; Div I corps must participate in at least six shows within their region

c) No national touring until third week in July

c) Regional championships begin in third week of July and continue through first week in August

d) Div I corps must attend their own regional championship; no Div I corps can compete in more than three regional championships

e) Top 6 Div I corps from prior year MUST sponsor a Div II/III regional show

f) Sponsorship includes at least training/workshops, no-fee guest performance at show, and significant financial/organizational support for show in the form of mentoring Div II/III corps management

3. Tweak scoring system--including removing "hidden" advantages

a) Reward "performance du jour", not reputation; if a show is not finished, score the show as "not finished"

B) "Seated" performance order only in regional/national championships; all others shows seating is random with requirement for all corps to perform in each "third" of show--including going on first and last within their division within regional show schedule

c) Re-balance points to 70% performance/execution and 30% effect/ensemble/ design for each component (brass, percussion, marching)

d) Re-balance points by component (brass=35%; percussion=25%; marching=40%); do not reward activities outside of these three areas.

Northeast/Mid-Atlantic = New England, NY, PA, NJ, DE, DC, and MD;

Southeast = VA, NC, TN, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, AR;

Midwest = IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI, WV, KY, MO, IA, ND, SD;

West/Southwest = LA, OK, TX, NM, CO, UT, WY;

Pacific coast (south) = CA (from San Luis Obispo/Kern/San Bernardino counties south, AZ, and NV),

Pacific coast (CA north of three identified counties, OR, WA, ID, and MT)

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Again you mis-represent the reality of DCI's impact at it's dawn in an attempt to blame DCI for the failures of so many corps back then, but that's OK.

I would had DCI is not an innocent bystanding with regards to corps failures . It wasn't until 10, 15 years ago that DCI decided to get involved in the financial viabilities of corps. They had to be worried by seeing all the corps closing left and right. But then local markets dictated the monies, but DCI still didn't allow corps with the less financial backing to have a lesser tour. You're right thought, it's not DCI's fault to force these corps to have major tours without the money. :doh:

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Here are enough ideas to really put DCI and friends "on tilt".

Principles to Promote Growth

1. Share the wealth; don't consolidate it

2. Enhance/actively support local and regional activities

3. Tweak scoring system--including removing "hidden" advantages

(Quote shortened to save space)

Generally agree, especially about Regional touring model and support for Div II/III.

On Point 1 -- I agree, but we've got to come up with a substantive proposal for how to get the kids that get cut from the top corps to go to the lower corps instead of sitting out. I agree with the lower corps size (stay at 135 at least!!!). I don't believe a draft will work for all reasons mentioned on these boards in the past. But a workable plan to spreading the talent and filling the ranks of all corps is essential (i.e. getting kids cut from one corps to join another), IMO, for all the other proposals you have here.

Nice post in all, though :)

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A few general thoughts, in no particular order...

1. The regional aspect (ie: "there are no corps here because the local student base isn't prepared") falls when you consider the fact that most corps members these days don't come from anywhere near the corps' homebase. Cavaliers have very few native Illinois boys in the corps, even though the Chicago-area is home to some excellent school music programs. Go figure...

2. The cost factor probably isn't as big a thing as we might think. Most corps have scholarship programs or other ways in which the members can work down their tour fees. And in relation to other summer kid activities, drum corps can actually be a bargain. My kids' summer camp costs $495 for one week per kid - and that's pretty average. Extend out the 12 weeks that kids are with corps, and $1400-1800 for a summer is reasonable.

3. The number of kids who are cut and then disappear out of the system is the real question, and I sometimes wonder how much of it has to do with the changes in the way membership is acquired.

As late as the early 80s, the idea of "auditioning" for a corps was pretty foreign. If you showed up in October and wanted to march, you were given an instrument and stuck in the line, and as long as you did your part to learn the show and showed up to the rehearsals and the camps, you were in. This isn't to say that you couldn't be cut from a particular instrument, but it was more common that someone who couldn't quite hack the snare book would be moved down to tenors or basses - but they were still in the corps. The membership requirement, under this system, wasn't about you being a stud on your horn so much as you simply being able and willing to commit to the corps itself - the membership in the org was more important than your role in the summer show.

But that seems to have changed a bit, with focus on the summer's presentation being more important than the actual membership. While the technical skills of the best players are certainly better than they were 25 years ago, it HAS come at the expense of a more inclusive form of membership in the corps themselves, which can, in some cases, lead to a weakening of local sponsorship ties (why would a local business support an organization whose members aren't in their own constituency?). There are some exceptions (mho, Cavaliers have done an excellent job of building their local support base despite the fact that so few local boys are part of the corps now), but in some other cases, the loss of local support due to 'foreign' membership has led to failure of corps to survive.

I think the "regional aspect" is probably a pretty big influence. I live in Fairfax County, Va. There is a great instrumental music program in this county and many of the 26-27 high school bands in the county are very good performing organizations, both marching and in the concert hall setting. But I can pretty much guarantee that I could count on one hand the number of kids from this area who march drum corps. Until Annapolis this year, the Warrenton show has been the only show even close to home each summer. As for Division 1 possibilities, with the Crossmen moving, the Cadets and Crown are the only groups reachable without flying, so the camps really add up in expense. I took my daughter to the Classic Countdown locally and the theatre was maybe half full, and it was mostly older adults...very few marching age kids. I grew up in this same county and when I was in the tail end of high school, it was a very big deal to drive up to Allentown each year and to Montreal for Finals. Now, very few people, even those involved in the band programs really know much about the activity. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm certain that there are other fairly wealthy suburbs out there who might support the activity if they knew more about it.

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What a tough question.

Why aren't there as many drum corps?

1. Society has changed and thus kids are much different than they were 30, 40, 50, even 10 years ago. If you don't believe me, just ask a 20 year teacher. My 8th grade students today were raised with instant everything. Remember the TV of the 70's consisted of three networks and if you were lucky, you could actually receive the signal for all three? These kids have been raised with 100+ channels to choose from. They don't have to watch one show for a whole hour because there is always something else to watch. At school, we are noticing that kids have a shorter attention span than in previous decades. Most of my students do not want to cover the same material a second time--even if they didn't get it the first time. "You already taught us this," is a common reaction to reviewing material. "Are we going to do anything fun?" is another question heard on a daily basis. Then there is the ever popular, "If you make it "fun" we'll learn better!" ("fun" = entertaining) Are these instantly gratified kids going to spend an hour practicing the same 16 count portion of a show?

2. Additionally, they have been raised with the idea that "fun" is the ultimate goal in life. Unfortunately they equate "fun" with little or no personal effort. "Fun" means that they get to sit back and watch without having to do anything to be entertained. Video games are "fun". Paintballing is "fun". Movies are "fun". Practicing an instrument isn't fun. Nor is marching around a football field. That's work!!! (My daughter's peers said didn't want to work as hard as she did.) The local high school band program is having fewer students transition into its program from the middle school because the kids have heard that it isn't "fun".

3. Sports are more important now days than they used to be. Elementary (kindergarten on up) kids are involved with soccer, football, baseball or softball, and basketball all in the same year. It's nuts. Then these kids go into middle school already focused on sports, and the band programs just don't stand a chance. Remember, everybody's kid out there is going to be the next pro star.

4. This tags along with the other reasons, but as a result of current mind set of today's kids, they ARE the best. Just ask them and they will tell you how good they are. They don't want to have to work into their idea position in a corps, they simply want it. I tried to get a local girl into a corps, but because she wouldn't be placed into the section that she wanted, she and her parents decided that it wasn't a good thing. (Helicopter parents are teaching our kids these theories.) "If I can't be in the most popular group, I won't be in something "less" popular.

5. Adult vision and leadership is no longer there. A man named Jim Jones gave the kids of Casper, Wyoming something to do. What single person out there today has the millions of personal dollars to start up a drum corps? (I'm trying to figure out how to pay for braces and college at the same time.) What person has the time to devote to making the corps successful by today's standards. Although I would love to see a corps started in the Boise area, I can't justify ignoring my own kids' interests for that. Would I help? You bet, but it takes that one person with the leadership and vision to run things and get the local backing necessary to ensure success.

Will it ever change? I doubt it. Our country is moving ahead with its technology and ideas, not going backward. Likewise, I can't see DCI ever changing its elitist attitude towards the top corps and going back to the grass roots idea of local drum corps being important.

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...it's not DCIs job...

It should be. Someone earlier said that they're just a governing body, but they might soon have little or nothing to govern. What if DCI were to get a few corps started and then set them loose once they're up and running? Since drum corps is compared so much to sports, look at Major League Baseball... The League owned the Expos and saw them through their move to Washington and (I think) into the hands of independent owners. DCI could do so much for its future by cultivating a few Div II/III corps here and there, maybe even to supplement those waning school band programs.

Random pontification warning!

Imagine if DCI came into a community where the arts were pretty much stripped down in the schools and started up a place for those kids to pick up a horn or drum and play. Those kids that get so excited when the "big kids" come and play music can have their previously missing outlet for their own music education. These kids can do regional shows and have regional competitions, and then as they graduate out of the program they can be enticed to move up to a Div I corps.

Another thing that might help this move in on the schools' "turf" that is being abandoned is to take up winter competitions. Maybe DCI or WGI needs to have something like Mini-Corps Associates during the winter... Say, put a maximum of 35 people on a basketball court and have them compete in the Mini-Corps division at WGI in April. Support and promote something during the school year that can act as a stepping stone to get into summer marching. Something to look into: How have winter programs run by corps helped boost the corps in the summer? I know that my own corps' winterguard has brought us more and better talent for the summer. Why not use this lack of an outlet for students during the school year as an opportunity to draw them in?

...Not many kids want to travel that far to compete in a division II corps that has yet to win a title...

Even if they have won a title, it's still tough. Chops and Govenaires are the last two corps to win Class A at DCA, and yet people still flock to Minnesota Brass instead (with the two smaller corps continuing to be small). No knock on MBI, since they always put out a spectacular corps that has great shows and draws a lot of interest to the activity in Minnesota, but as successful as they are around here they have yet to bring home the national trophy. Sometimes hardware just isn't enough.

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The way to increase the number of corps is to go back in time. This wouldn't please many of todays members and fans.

Once upon a time, in the dark ages all the corps were local, they were relativily small, the vast majority of the membership had no musical background, the staff was mostly volunteer and or low paid (for the love of the activity) and most never traveled more than a couple of hundered miles from home except for a trip to VFW or the World Open or such.

With that said, and all the moaning about the lack of quality music programs why wouldn't it be possible to go back to that model. Get some people who would be interested in starting a corps (say the NYC area with the big population). Just start with a couple parade corps and short field show and expand.

The whole idea would be to keep it local, less time intensive and inexpensive. If you had this some of the local kids might spin off to DCI.

Just a thought.

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With that said, and all the moaning about the lack of quality music programs why wouldn't it be possible to go back to that model. Get some people who would be interested in starting a corps (say the NYC area with the big population). Just start with a couple parade corps and short field show and expand.

The whole idea would be to keep it local, less time intensive and inexpensive. If you had this some of the local kids might spin off to DCI.

Just a thought.

Some folks tried to get some funding for doing just this up in Washington, D.C. not too long ago....I never did find out if they got the money to do it.

The link escapes me, but it was for upwards of 12-14 units. I'll see if I can find it.

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The way to increase the number of corps is to go back in time. This wouldn't please many of todays members and fans.

Once upon a time, in the dark ages all the corps were local, they were relativily small, the vast majority of the membership had no musical background, the staff was mostly volunteer and or low paid (for the love of the activity) and most never traveled more than a couple of hundered miles from home except for a trip to VFW or the World Open or such.

With that said, and all the moaning about the lack of quality music programs why wouldn't it be possible to go back to that model. Get some people who would be interested in starting a corps (say the NYC area with the big population). Just start with a couple parade corps and short field show and expand.

The whole idea would be to keep it local, less time intensive and inexpensive. If you had this some of the local kids might spin off to DCI.

Just a thought.

Except that not everything is the same as it was "back then". Now there are hundreds and hundreds of quality marching programs at the high school level that have attained a level of competitive visibility/popularity that wasn't as prominent in the old days. Keep in mind that the model you speak of wasn't just concocted in someone's mind and implemented. It arose over time out of a need in the community -- a need that is now filled to some extent by high school (and college) programs. Not saying that the model as you present couldn't work on some level -- it's just that I don't think it's as easy as turning back the clock on one activity and expecting the rest of the world that kept spinning in the meantime to spin back equally.

I do believe that going back to local roots is wise for the drum corps activity. It just has to be in a way designed to make sense for now, not for "back then"

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