Drum Corps International
Texas Bandmasters speak out about drum corps

Texas Bandmasters speak out about drum corps

by Emily Tannert

Drum Corps International shared billing this past weekend in San Antonio with the Texas Bandmasters Association conference, which has been held the same weekend as the DCI San Antonio major event the last seven out of nine years. Many band directors took advantage of the opportunity to spend a day as drum corps fans, and DCI welcomed them with goodie bags filled with educational resources. Often, however, the drum corps activity can be an educational resource in and of itself. Many directors told us that they utilize drum corps videos and shows to demonstrate performance and life skills to their students. "I tell my students to look at the members when they get done performing," said Tim Boland, assistant band director at Richard King High School. "Some of our kids walk off the field looking like they were just in air conditioning. I want them to know what it looks like to leave it all on the field." Thomas Esperiqueta, band director at Rhodes Middle School and color guard instructor at Alamo Heights High School, agrees. "I use drum corps to demonstrate performance qualities to my color guard students, to show that extra boost that goes into performance. The activity gives students an ideal. It's a standard to look up to." John Randolph, a former high school band director and currently the band director at Liberty Middle School in Los Fresnos, TX, got into teaching largely because he loves marching band. "I've used drum corps to help kids understand what it is we're all so excited about in the marching activity," he explains. "We talk to them about what drum corps kids do and try to help them understand why it's so cool. It's the philosophy behind drum corps too – dedication, commitment, work ethic, and having the right attitude." Both Julie Amos, formerly of Needville High School, and Dawn Michaelsen, of Danberry High School, missed out on marching drum corps because they didn't know about the activity until they were in college. Now they use drum corps videos both to motivate their students – "I want them to realize what they can achieve when they really work hard for something," says Julie – as well as to try to encourage them to try new things. "I'm also trying to hook my own children on drum corps," Dawn laughs. "I'm hoping they'll march someday so that I can follow them around!" Jim Cooper, also an assistant band director at Richard King High School, teaches his drum line about attitude and intensity through drum corps. "Just watching a drum line warm up, you can really see focus," he says. He also gets ideas for new warm-ups by watching corps. All the directors we talked to also use drum corps as a resource for design ideas. Johnnie Green, of Judson High School in Converse, Texas, and a former Cavaliers member, had a slightly different spin. "We don't like to borrow ideas – we're into innovation and creating new effects in the pageantry arts, so we don't want to do what someone already did. But we do utilize the arrangers and the designers of the drum corps shows we like. So the activity becomes a resource for us in that way." Johnnie also points out that drum corps gives students excellent networking opportunities. "The whole reason that I'm in Texas teaching is that I had contacts through drum corps. Drum corps is like six degrees of separation – if you've done drum corps, you know people everywhere. Even if it's not home, it's like home, because it's DCI."

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