Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: David Simon, Phantom Regiment drum major

The DCI.org interview: David Simon, Phantom Regiment drum major

by Drum Corps International

Name, hometown, corps: David Simon, from Austin, Texas; Phantom Regiment What is your role in the corps this summer? Conductor (that means drum major in everyone-but-Phantom-Regiment language). Where do you go to school, and what extracurricular activities are you involved with there? I am a music education major at Baylor University, in Waco, Texas. I am the PR officer for the Baylor University Music Educators Association, and I serve as community service vice president for the Baylor chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I am also on the cycling team.

David Simon
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 went to Leander High School, and our marching band was pretty strong. We were fortunate to have excellent instructors with a passion for excellence, and I think most of the group picked up that. We learned discipline, group-work skills, and lots of other important life lessons. Like any other band we had our ups and downs, but in the end each season we managed to work together. We enjoyed numerous successes, including Texas State Marching Finals and a Bands of America Grand Nationals Finals appearance. I served as drum major for two years, and I learned about a zillion new people-skills and what it takes to work with a group as crazy as a bunch of band kids. After I graduated I had my first summer with Phantom Regiment in 2001-- what a blast! It was also a next-step into the 'real world'; college kids, no parents, working hard all day -- a great part of growing up. What I took away from that summer was the notion that no matter how impossible it seems at first, you will really succeed if you work your rear end off each and every time you go at it. I remember getting called out during move-ins for "marching like Herman Munster, all hunched over and wobbly ... " and I couldn't play a single note while moving. By the end of the season I was being called out to demonstrate a good roll-step. I decided that I loved Regiment so much that I wanted to take a shot at the top leadership and musical role, the conductor. After auditioning and not making it, I called upon what I learned my first summer ... and after another great season on the mello line I came back for 2003 and got the job. I learned more from the people I work with every summer than I've ever known up to that point. Drum corps has to be one the best personal growth opportunities anywhere.

The last good book I read: Haha, READ? The last and one of the best books I've had time to read was "It's Not About the Bike" by Lance Armstrong. Haven't has a chance to get to the sequel ... The last great film I saw: I was really touched by "The Passion of the Christ." For all anyone can complain about, it still delivers a powerful message.    Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: Man! Very tough ... One would have to be Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief," Then Mahler V, and then some compilation disk with a whole bunch of other essentials on it, like Beethoven and Puccini! My favorite TV show: Seinfeld, even if they don't make 'em anymore. Favorite performers: I saw a tuba recital by Pat Sheridan ... amazing. He is awesome. I also really enjoy the Dallas Symphony, and my brother's band -- he plays drums for Voxtrot (local Austin college kid group -- yes!). How do you "blow off steam?" Jump on the bike, ride 50 miles, or on the mountain bike and roll over some rocks. Why I march with the corps I am in: I LOVE the classics. The idea of romantic orchestral music and the sound of the Regiment horn line drew me in. I also wanted to be part of the class act that I have always associated with the organization. It's also one of the biggest and closest Phamilies anyone could ask for. Was it always your goal to be in a leadership role? Yes. I'm one of those 'red' personalities, or whichever one wants to take charge. But it's convenient, cause I have always been driven by true passion to make things as good as they can be. I like to take charge so I can take a load off of others' backs. How will you go about balancing the roles of leader and corpsmate? It gets tricky. You've gotta tell people when they need to reverse course for the benefit of the corps, and you can lose friends sometimes. But it's also essential to remain in touch and be one of the gang (it's more fun, too). The group comes first, and you do whatever it takes to protect the whole, while also keeping yourself down on earth and being approachable! What has been your formative drum corps moment? While we were giving a victory concert in some small town last season, I was waiting in the stands for my turn to conduct. Suddenly, at the first big impact in our opener ("Canon" -- yeah) I noticed a girl about 13 or 14 burst into tears, turn to her dad, and say "It's just so awesome ... " She couldn't stop crying the rest of the concert. The performance had seized her. That's what it's all about. Best drum corps show ever: Regiment '89. What are you most looking forward to about the summer? I'll be with all my buds for one last stretch. I can't wait to feel the fans' reactions. It's the thrill of a lifetime to feel that rush of adrenaline when the finals crowd erupts at the end of the show. Best thing about being a drum corps leader: Getting to make a difference. Of course everyone in every position is vitally important to the product, right down to the support staff volunteer that can only give one weekend. But as a member-leader, you get extra responsibilities that allow you to max out what you can do for the corps. The best opportunity here is leading by example. As a leader, people will look to you as a model for their own actions. If you get that chance to try and show them the perfect corps member, it's a real rush. Worst thing about being a drum corps leader: Definitely having to be the one that always does the right thing, always. Even though you feel good about yourself afterwards, and you know that flying straight is the healthiest way to go, it takes a lot of perseverance and personal strength and energy to uphold yourself and everyone around you to a higher standard. During tour, the best part of the day is: Ha, food! Dinner is usually my favorite. After a long day of rehearsal, you can chow down with no remorse because you know you'll be working it off during the show! During tour, the worst part of the day is: Waking up. I'm just not a morning person, even though some people are. Man, it just hurts. Favorite drum corps personality and why: DCI Hall of Fame judge Gene Monterastelli is just a great person, and has given so much to drum corps. He is around Regiment a lot, so maybe it's a little bias, but he is always the one that gets you to pause and consider people as people. He makes sure you're having a good day, teaches you to make sure others are having a good day, and is there when someone's not. His guidance in our corps' leadership development has been tremendous. Gene's just a great guy. What do you want to be when your drum corps career is over? I will be a music educator, a.k.a. a band director. Stayin' in Texas, probably with a high school band. In fact, when I was pre-med I came back from my second summer with Regiment, and it was looking back on the musical and social experiences I had had that made me see the light. Long live drum corps.

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