Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: George Hopkins

The DCI.org interview: George Hopkins

by Drum Corps International

Give us your full drum corps/marching music background.

George Hopkins
  • Never marched in high school band
  • Did march in the band at West Chester University in Pennsylvania for one year
  • Taught numerous bands
  • Marched in the Holts Hornets from 1968-1970. They became the 507 Hornets -- I marched there from 1971-1974
  • Marched in the Crossmen from 1975-1978
  • Assistant percussion director at the Cadets in 1979
  • Assistant director of the Cadets; and percussion instructor from 1980 to 1982; took over percussion at the Cadets in 1981
  • Became the director of the Cadets in September of 1982 If I wasn't a corps director, I would be: A high school social studies teacher. How did you become a corps director? I was with the Cadets part time, I took interest in all of the activity. The keys and the checkbook were handed to me at a September breakfast meeting with my predecessor, Dr. Santo What first attracted you to the drum corps activity? Not sure. I was 1o years old and I liked to march. I did not see an open-class corps until about 1971 What advice would you give to young people who aspire to be corps directors? Be ready to work hard, prepare yourself with schooling in nonprofit management and do remember -- you will only be as good as those you hire. Do you have any favorite road anecdotes from your many years in drum corps? Oh my ....
  • Driving a tractor trailer from New Jersey to West Virginia before I knew how to drive a truck
  • Our first World Championship (1983) and the pandemonium that took place once we left the field
  • Any story about George Zingali
  • There are many, many more How do you keep yourself musically and visually current? What do you watch for ideas?
  • Broadway, the theater, anything that comes to NY or Philly.
  • Read books on creativity, etc. ...
  • Listen to those whom I work with
  • Attend music conventions and workshops The last good book I read: "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't," by Jim Collins The last great film I saw: "What the #$*! Do We Know!?" (Not sure I would say great?) Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: Hmmmmm. Best of Copland,
    Best of Bernstein, Best of Frank Sinatra (I would have to smuggle in a Barry Manilow disk). My favorite TV show: "West Wing" Favorite performers: Dave Matthews, New York Philharmonic, Nick Nolte, Barry Manilow, Bernadete Peters, Chris Rock How do you "blow off steam?" These days: Run five miles; talk to myself; take a long walk with a Walkman. What has been your formative drum corps moment? Taking a course through Landmark Education in 1988 -- therein allowing me the opportunity to speak to, and listen to students. From that point, I became a better teacher, a leader --one privileged to serve. Another: Went to a clinic in 1981 with Jim Prime -- Wayne Downey was speaking. I was so impressed my all he did to get the BD to where they were. I decided I would work that hard. Another: When I decided to drive to Mississippi in 1980 to recruit kids for the Cadets. We had 12 brass! We began rehearsals in June, we went on the field in July and we finished 10th. Best drum corps show ever: Santa Clara Vanguard, 1975 What are you most looking forward to about the summer? I love spending time with the kids, engaged in making a program the best we can. Best thing about being a drum corps director: See above -- I love the chance to speak to, and learn from, young people. Worst thing about being a drum corps director: Bus breakdowns During tour, the best part of the day is: Rehearsal – ensemble. Watching it all come together. During tour, the worst part of the day is: Travel -- I worry Favorite drum corps personality and why: Pete Emmons. He is a god who reinvented himself as a tour manager, and a damn cool one at that! A good, good, good man who deserves all the world has to offer Describe what you think a Cadets show will look in 2015. Well, to begin, there is that sax feature off the line. It is so cool to hear 32 saxophones backed up with the orchestra. Wow! And outside no less. It is amazing what those speaker banks can do.