Across the country, the drum corps community collectively paused on Sunday, June 9, to participate in the second-annual Drum Corps International Community Forum.

Instituted just last year, the event provided an opportunity for participating drum corps organizations to spend time together focused on critical topics to everyone involved in the activity — performers, directors and staff, and volunteers.

The event — Health, Wellness & Safety: A DCI Community Forum — was broadcast live to corps across the country from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. The location, just an hour away from the DCI headquarters in Indianapolis is also the new venue for the DCI Open Class World Championship. The university is also the spring training site for the Bluecoats, whose members served as the host corps and “studio audience” on Sunday.


“The Community Forum is an excellent way for us to reach the entire community and make sure that everyone takes some time with no distractions to really think about health, wellness and safety issues,” DCI board of directors chair Kathy Black said. “We hope the presentations will spur even more discussion among DCI community members throughout the season and into the future.”

The agenda featured three 15-minute presentations highlighting practical ways to stay safe and healthy throughout the 52-day DCI Summer Tour through accessible and tangible resources. The presentations also included time for Q & A with the speakers where anyone from the live or remote audiences could ask or email questions.

Dan AchesonDCI CEO Dan Acheson adresses the viewing audience at this past weekend's DCI Community Forum.

Topics and presenters included:

  • Health – “Eleven Things You Can Do to Stay Healthy” presented by Laurie VanDoren, an experienced nurse practitioner in emergency medicine and women's health who also serves as the current chair of DCI’s Marching Music Health, Wellness & Safety Project.

  • Wellness –  “Getting Psyched!!!” presented by Dr. Jake Levy, a licensed psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee with a special interest in performance anxiety management and performance psychology.

  • Safety – A review of the DCI Community Code of Conduct & Ethics Guidelines presented by Bluecoats members Jared Baltazar and Peyton Grunzke. Baltazar studies psychology at Riverside Community College and plans to pursue the clinical or developmental fields, and Grunzke is a music education major at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and plans to teach middle school band.


VanDoren’s presentation provided practical tips for staying healthy throughout the season. Addressing issues such as the importance of hand-washing to prevent illness, the need for proper foot care, how to protect against sunburn, the right nutrition, and more. She emphasized that in order to have the best experience possible, staying health conscious is absolutely crucial.

A new topic this year highlighted mental health. Dr. Levy stressed the important role of mental health in a corps member’s season. Having worked many years with the DCI Marching Music Health, Wellness & Safety Project, he also gave tips on how performers can assist each other through the intense stresses of a fast-paced, competitive season.

Baltazar and Grunzke addressed the DCI Community Code of Conduct and Ethics Guidelines from the perspective of the performers and how the policies and procedures both apply to them and benefit them. Their presentation stressed that collaborative and ongoing discussion is what keeps the drum corps activity ever-evolving, that transparency and openness from the top down allow corps members to feel like they are part of a community that truly cares about them — one that prioritizes their overall summer experience and personal well-being.


“It meant a lot to be able to present today,” Baltazar said. “I know sometimes that if there are people out of our age range talking to us about these issues, it’s easy to get lost in what’s being said to us. I think it was a really good step in the right direction; and I would like to see more members be given the platform to speak at these forums.

“We’re all working toward the same thing. DCI is doing all that it can to give us the best possible platform for us to do what we do.”

Now an important aspect of drum corps organization’s spring training, the DCI Community Forum works to bring both a sense of unity to everyone involved in the activity. With the start of the 2019 DCI Tour on the horizon, it ensures that members from every participating organization know that they have access to the right resources to have a successful summer.