With the gates still hours away from swinging open and welcoming fans into the DCI Tour Premiere presented by DeMoulin Bros. & Co., hundreds of high school music students waltzed down the metal stairs and on to the glistening turf of Ford Field for a lesson in group dynamics.
They just didn’t know it.
As part of the Kick Start Your Season with DCI series, motivational speaker Fran Kick welcomed the youthful mass to Detroit to experience “a stadium-sized team-building leadership experience like nothing they’ve done before.”
“We’re giving some psychological principles on group dynamics that most college textbooks cover,” Kick said. “But rather than say that to students and directors, we actually disguise it in an activity and an entertaining presentation. They’re learning group-dynamic principles in a way that’s more meaningful for them, at their level, and that will stay with them longer.”
Just by the cadence of his voice, it’s pretty easy to gauge Kick’s energy. He’s always moving, seeming eager to get out and do things. His presentation is no different.
The students arrived to the stadium before the crowds and corps had clustered around the outer edges of the building, garnering an escort to the front sideline. After a short presentation, Kick served as a guide for the students as they built leadership skills amongst themselves.
“On the field, they’re interacting with each other, learning the value of treating each other the way they want to be treated rather than the status they may or may not have in band or in life,” Kick said. “It’s a hard lesson for adults to learn, but students figuring it out themselves is always a treat to see.”
Rather than just say that, Kick demonstrated it with an activity. At random, he gave each student a playing card. Without seeing their card, they plastered it on their forehead, visible for everyone else.
The lower a participant’s card number, the lower that person was in the game’s “society.” The students were then asked to speak to each other based upon that number, possibly demeaning someone with a lower number and talking glowingly to someone with a high number.
At the end, they all got in a line based upon what they thought their number was. It was an impactful lesson about treating every person, no matter who, with respect.
“You can experience what it’s like to actually make things happen with other people at a high level,” Kick said. “Our goal is to give students, teachers, staff a chance to stop their world and look at how they do what they do in a meaningful way so that lesson will stay with them when they start their season this year in band.”
The event in Detroit was the first of five in the 2019 Kick Start series, which will be scattered across the country. The beauty of the events, Kick explained, is their welcoming and inclusive nature. There’s no captains. Being a brass player, percussionist or color guard performer holds no weight — everyone is equal together and interacting with one another.
“Anyone who does anything performance-related can get a lesson on how we work better together when we’re treating people the way we want to be treated rather than perhaps the status or talent level we have in an organization,” Kick said. “The more we help each other, the better we’ll all get faster. And that’s the goal.”
Upcoming Kick Start events
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Saturay, July 13
Mesquite Memorial Stadium, Mesquite, TX
Monday, July 22
War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock, AR
Wednesday, July 24
DCI World Championship Finals
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Saturday, August 10