Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Bluecoats' percussion captain Erin Rigelman

The DCI.org interview: Bluecoats' percussion captain Erin Rigelman

by Drum Corps International

Name, hometown, corps:Erin Rigelman, Pickerington, Ohio, and this will be my fourth and final year in the Bluecoats snare line. I am the snare captain, as well as the percussion captain. Where do you go to school, and what extracurricular activities are you involved with there? I am a junior at the University of Michigan. I am a psychology major, and I am the drum line section leader of the Michigan Marching Band.

Erin Rigelman
Give us your full drum corps/marching music background, and how each position prepared you for the leadership role you're in this summer. I started playing the drums when I was 9. My first private instructor was one of my older sister's friends who played quads in high school. She was my role model.^ I eventually started taking lessons from Rick Adams, the instructor at my high school. I marched in my high school snare line for four years and was the section leader the last two. In that position, I learned a lot about working with people and how to interact with them. I also learned quite a bit about tempo. My senior year in high school, I participated in an independent open class indoor drum line from northeast Ohio called Matrix. Being in that organization really helped me improve my own playing. I was marching with people who were older than me and who had more experience. It was great to learn from these players who had different backgrounds, as well as a staff with a different take on things. At that time, I was auditioning for the first time at a drum corps -- the Bluecoats. The staff that year really pushed me, both physically and mentally. I was learning so much. Their teaching was fast-paced, so I learned how to adjust and pick things up quickly. The captain in 2001, Jeff Shipman, really taught me a lot about leading by example. He was always on top of things, the first one ready to go, and very intense and excited about working hard. After that summer, I went to college and joined the marching band. It was a fun organization to return to after a pretty intense summer. Again, I was surrounded by a unique group of people. The University of Michigan is a very culturally diverse school, so I have gotten to meet people from (and learn a great deal about) different cultures, especially through marching band. The staff of the MMB is incredible. They teach us how to be great musicians, as well as great fans -- but more importantly, how to be great people. The summer of 2002 was my first year as captain of the Bluecoats' percussion ensemble, a responsibility I shared with the tenor captain, Chris Roode. He taught me a lot about how to be an effective leader on the field, as well as take care of logistical stuff off the field (the truck, section jobs, etc.). That winter, I marched my first season with Rhythm X, an independent/world class indoor drum line. It was incredible to be a part of that, as I was surrounded by some of the most talented individuals I have ever met. They taught me a lot about playing and performing, as well as just getting along and having a great time. The summer of 2003 with the Bluecoats was amazing. I was much more comfortable in my role as percussion captain, and we were all ready to be the best we could be. I think it has been my favorite summer so far. The people in the percussion section were great, and I can't wait to march with many of them again this summer. This past fall was my first season as the section leader of the Michigan drum line. It was so much fun. Everyone in the MMB is so into playing and getting better, as well as having a blast. We learn about seven different halftime shows each season, so we're constantly memorizing and learning new drill. It also gives me a chance to act as a "snare tech," as we have only one instructor for the whole drum line. I love being able to be a leader of something on campus and getting to support Michigan Football. I am currently marching my second season with Rhythm X, and I'm having a great time. Once again, I'm learning a great deal from the people in the line about playing and appreciating what everyone has to offer. I am also getting ready for 2004 with the Bluecoats. Our winter camps have been awesome. The staff this year is amazing. Having new people on staff this year has been a really cool experience because I get to learn new things from new people. I can't wait to move in and have an incredible summer -- the best yet. The last good book I read: "Just Checking," by Emily Colas The last great film I saw: "Radio" (I haven't been to the movies in a
while ...) Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: 311's "Evolver," 311's "Music," Sarah McLachlan's "Surfacing" My favorite TV show: "Family Guy," and I have to admit, the Lifetime shows ("Golden Girls," "The Nanny," "Mad About You") Favorite performers: 311, Dave Stahl Big Band (they performed for us this past summer during move-ins ... amazing!) How do you "blow off steam?" When I get stressed out or worked up over something, I just like to sort out my thoughts, get a clear mind. Sometimes I write my thoughts down. Why I march with the Bluecoats: I love the Bluecoats. I fell in love with the corps the first time I saw them. I could not imagine marching anywhere else. It's my family, my home. Was it always your goal to be in a leadership role? No. My goal was just to be a part of the Bluecoats. I worked very hard to earn a spot in 2001, and it was like a dream come true. Getting to lead this percussion section for three years has truly been an honor, and I have loved every minute of it -- even though it is very hard work. How will you go about balancing the roles of leader and corpsmate? I love the people I march with, and I think we all become really great friends. Sometimes it's hard to know where to draw the line between "friend" and "leader." It's just a matter of learning the dynamics of the line and being approachable. I lead by example, so I have to be sure I am always on top of my game and doing the right thing. I've realized that my attitude is contagious -- however I approach the day is how the line approaches the day, so staying positive and excited about getting better is so important. What has been your formative drum corps moment? For my birthday, my parents got tickets to DCI Finals in 2000. Our seats weren't very good, but just being there was enough. It was great to see my Bluecoats back in the top 12, but it was very hard for me to watch the performances. I had been to so many DCI shows, and I was ready to be out of the stands and on the field. I told my parents that I wouldn't need tickets to any more shows because the next DCI show I attended, I would be on the field -- wearing blue.    Best drum corps show ever: Phantom Regiment 1994, Blue Devils 1998, Bluecoats 1997, 1998 (and, of course, Bluecoats 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004). What are you most looking forward to about the summer? I can't wait to spend this summer with my best friends. It's been a long road, and while I'm not "ready" to age out yet, I'm so thankful that I get to go through that process with my family. I love working hard and pushing through those hot, humid days, and then relaxing on the bus at night. I just can't wait to make this the best season yet, both for myself and for the Bluecoats. Best thing about being percussion captain: I love what I do. I love the responsibility. Knowing that you have such a profound influence on so many people is an awesome feeling, but at the same time, it can be scary. I have so much support from my fellow members and the staff; I trust them, and they trust me. Being able to lead such a wonderful group of my peers is incredible. Worst thing about being percussion captain: Sometimes knowing that everything you do influences so many other people is pretty stressful. That can really bog you down. During tour, the best part of the day is: Right after the final run-through when we "circle it up" for the meeting and everyone is running around giving sweaty hugs. It feels so great knowing that you just made it through the day. Also, right after the last note of a great show -- that is an amazing feeling. During tour, the worst part of the day is: Basics Favorite drum corps personality and why: Brandt Crocker -- his voice gives me chills every time I hear it. The first time he announced for us in 2001 -- I believe it was the Indianapolis show -- I almost started crying because I realized I had "made it." I was no longer a spectator. What do you want to be when your drum corps career is over? I plan on finishing my undergraduate work and going on to grad school to pursue a career in child development psychology or prenatal counseling. And of course -- I still hope to be involved with the Bluecoats by volunteering.