Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Rob Stein, Jersey Surf drum major

The DCI.org interview: Rob Stein, Jersey Surf drum major

by Drum Corps International

Name, hometown, corps: Rob Stein, from Twin Rivers, N.J., Jersey Surf. What is your role in the corps this summer? Drum major

Rob Stein
Where do you go to school, and what extracurricular activities are you involved with there? Sophomore at University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a trumpet performance/music education double major. I play in the University of the Arts big band, trumpet ensemble, handbell choir and handbell quartet. I also have my own group, the Rob Stein 5-tet, and we play mainly original music written by members of the band. During the summer, besides a member of the Jersey Surf, I am on staff with the Rancocas Valley Marching Red Devils, from Mt. Holly, NJ. 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 marching in ninth grade in the Hightstown High School Rams Marching Band. I played third trumpet, which is OK, because you always need good support from the bottom! Sophomore year I was on the equipment crew, another underrated position. Someone's gotta set up the yard markers! Junior year I became drum major, which was a great opportunity and a lot of fun. We had a group five band, so I quickly learned how to work with large groups and work as a team with other leaders. I maintained the position of drum major senior year and graduated with the class of 2002. As soon as I started the marching band in high school, I fell in love with the activity and joined Surf that summer as a second soprano for their 1999 production, "It Ain't Necessarily Summer Time," and I've been there ever since. Each year I moved up in soprano part and leadership position, and I've been extremely fortunate to have been trained by amazing leaders and an even more amazing staff. The 2002 season was my first season as soprano section leader. It was a wonderful opporunity, because it allowed me to train as a leader and see the inner workings of our leadership team without totally diving in head-first. Being section leader for the 2002 season, as well as marching three previous seasons, gave me the experience and knowledge I needed to attain the position of drum major. The last good book I read: "Effortless Mastery," by Kenny Werner. This book is mainly directed towards jazz performers, but can be applied to all aspects and varieties of performing. The last great film I saw: "Mr. Holland's Opus" (my all-time favorite). Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: "Blue Light, Red Light" by Harry Connick Jr., "Bob Curnow's LA Big Band - Music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays," "Mo' Cream From the Crop" by Leroy Jones. My favorite TV show: "Family Guy!" Undoubtedly, the best animated family on television. Favorite performers: Harry Connick Jr. (piano and big band), Leroy Jones (trumpet), Wayne Bergeron (trumpet) and Manhattan Transfer (vocal group). How do you "blow off steam"? Playing trumpet usually works, but if that doesn't do the trick, I go to the gym and do some running. Why I march with the corps I am in: I march with the Jersey Surf primarily for two reasons. One of them is their commitment to entertainment, while still executing a high level of technical facility. Performing with Surf really allows of all the members to have a fun, unforgettable summer, while still learning skills that will carry us not just in music, but in life. The second reason is Surf's commitment to excellence, both on and off the field. A big motto we have at Surf is, "Without the journey, the destination is meaningless." We strive for success in all aspects, from performing a good show, to packing up the bus, to cleaning up a housing site before we leave; and it is those little details that separates good corps from great ones. Was it always your goal to be in a leadership role? Yes, it has been. As much as I love to play, I also love being in a position that allows me to help so many people. How will you go about balancing the roles of leader and corpsmate? I believe that the most effective way to do this is to separate the two as little as possible. I also believe that leading by example is the best kind of leadership, and that's what I always do the most. I have a very outgoing personality, so I always do my best to be close with everyone in the corps. When it comes time to get the job done, however, I get down to business and do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand. Although I am a leader, I am a member as important as any other, just with a different job. What has been your formative drum corps moment? My most formative drum corps moment took place in the 2002 season. We were at our last night of four straight rehearsal days in Stroudsburg, Pa., and we were having a corps meeting. Prelims was only a few short days away. Bob Jacobs, the director, asked the corps a question, which was, "If we don't make finals, has this season been worth everything you have put into it?" Immediately, my answer, along with the rest of the corps, was yes. The common quote comes to mind, "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game," and it was at that moment that I truly started believing that 100 percent. If you push yourself to and past your limits, regardless of the outcome, you will be satisfied knowing that you did your absolute best. Since that moment I've let all concerns with scores, placements, and material outcomes leave my mind, and it's taken me quite far. Best drum corps show ever: That's a tough one! I have three, one of them is 1995 Madison Scouts; undoubtedly one of the most entertaining shows in DCI history. Another would be 1994 Blue Devils, the musical selection and show development is one of my favorites. Finally, 1989 Phantom Regiment. The arrangement of "New World Symphony" was brilliant, chills every time! What are you most looking forward to about the summer? I'm looking forward to the direction Surf is going with this year's show. The progress we're making this season is happening faster than ever before, and the talent and work ethic of the members is truly inspiring. The leadership team this year is also one of the best I've seen since I have been with Surf, and it's a pleasure to work with a group of people so committed to the success of the corps. Best thing about being a drum corps leader: Having the ability to help and set a good example for so many people. Worst thing about being a drum corps leader: The only thing that really comes to mind is the lack of sleep, having to stay up late to get ready for the next day, and wake up early to prepare everything. During tour, the best part of the day is: Preparing for a show. Getting off the bus, warming up, marching to the gate and knowing we're about to throw down and have a blast doing it. During tour, the worst part of the day is: Waking up! I'm definitely not
a morning person. Favorite drum corps personality and why: George Colon. He was my marching instructor in high school, and he's marched and worked with several top-12 drum corps. He's taught me more than I can ever thank him for and has been a truly inspirational teacher for all of his students. What do you want to be when your drum corps career is over? By then I will have just graduated, so I'll either be teaching or performing. Eventually, I want to get more involved in leadership and create leadership seminars for teachers and educators of all subjects.