Drum Corps International
The Academy works to put educational effort before competitive agenda

The Academy works to put educational effort before competitive agenda

by Drum Corps International

The summer is heating up in Arizona as last year's Division II World Champion, the Academy, gets ready to move into Division I competition. The corps has been rehearsing in Tempe almost every day since Memorial Day, working on their 2007, and most challenging program to date, "The Chase." They come into this season feeling that their past work ethic as a Division II corps will continue to help them be successful this year as well. DCI.org recently talked with Academy Director Mark Richardson to find the corps' secret to success. We know the quality of our product, the quality of our performers and the attitude and character of our corps must be in place in order for us to honor all that is already out there. Richardson says the corps' 2007 program is designed not merely as a competitive vehicle, but as an educational one first and foremost, as he understands that a solid educational foundation is the key to long-term success and evolution. "The choice for us to make this a harder, longer and a more Division I type of show was made regardless of whether or not we were going to be in Division I or Division II," said Richardson. He knows the Academy is in new territory this year, but still believes the continued focus on music education and allowing the corps members to reach their fullest potential is the organization's first priority. "We are certainly aware that the competitive field has heightened. We know the quality of our product, the quality of our performers and the attitude and character of our corps must be in place in order for us to honor all that is already out there," said Richardson. "But the competitive aspect is only part of it. We are preparing our members as we have always done; not to get out there and beat the next guy, but to get out there and beat what we did the day before and see where that takes us."

Academy members (black shirts) with student leaders who attended the corps'
Summer Marching Academy leadership camp at Arizona State University.
The Academy's show this year is composed of mostly original music in order for the corps to be able to tell their story without limitations. Through three intriguing characters and the musically diverse sounds of hard bop, funk, a classic love song, action movie music, reggae and swing, the story of "The Chase" is told. Richardson says the Academy staff is striving each day to design this show to uphold the standards that the world's best drum corps have set. "One of the biggest goals we have is to represent this incredible activity in the highest manner," he said. As Academy members prepare for their first competition this Friday in Riverside, Calif., the excitement around them begins to grow. After being competitive for three years and coming off of a World Championship season in 2006, moving to Division I is something they are proud of. "Being accepted as a Division I corps this year is an honor," said Richardson. "The opportunity to perform in front of large audiences at major regional events and being able to be a part of that history is very exciting for us." See the Academy in action this Friday in Riverside, Calif.