2019 Annual DCI Conference Emphasizes Health, Safety & Wellness

Mike Lawson • Percussion • February 8, 2019

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The second week in January saw leaders from across the Drum Corps International community come together in Indianapolis for the 2019 DCI Annual Meetings and Health, Wellness & Safety Summit. While it happens every year, this conference held new features for attendees – and even some surprises.

More than 350 attended from all over the country – the leadership of participating World Class corps, Open Class and Sound-Sport® directors, teaching staff members and student drum majors from participating corps, representatives from the DCI adjudication community, the DCI Board of Directors, and members of the boards of directors for individual participating corps. The agenda included sessions on competitive issues along with expert presentations on health, wellness and safety of every aspect of every activity under the DCI umbrella to help ensure overall participant safety throughout all operations and activities in preparing for the 2019 Summer Tour.

Attendees participated in timely discussions on increased due diligence and enhanced security in hiring practices along with best practices for diversity and inclusion.

Attorney Julie Miceli, a partner with the Higher Education Group of Husch Blackwell law firm, gave directors critical information to ensure complying with hiring laws that are constantly changing while also fulfilling their mission of hiring the best quality candidates to serve the performers in their organizations.

Covering another key topic, Dr. Kevin Kloesel, a meteorologist from the University of Oklahoma, shared data on the risks of inclement weather, heat, and other conditions affecting rehearsals and competitions. One of his points was that mobile weather apps often don’t provide a complete picture of potential risk to performers and audiences alike. Lightning strikes can occur several miles ahead of a storm depicted on a cell phone. His expertise was invaluable.

During the event, DCI also made announcements supporting the summit theme. First, DCI stressed its commitment to participant safety today with an announcement of a national collaboration to expand safety training initiatives for all marching music performing arts programs.

Varsity University and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have partnered to offer comprehensive educational programming to schools and athletic programs nationwide including Varsity Spirit’s curriculum and compliance courses based on their experience with screening 4,000 seasonal employees through background checks and compliance training each year. The group developed a new marching music certification course in 2017-18 as well.

In addition to implementing the certification program for participating organizations throughout the DCI community, DCI will work with Varsity University and NFHS to continue identifying ways to incorporate even more best practices into the training curriculum as the new coursework expands its coverage on ensuring protection for participants in all marching music organizations nationwide.

The second announcement involved one of the most basic elements of marching music ensembles – drums. In a surprising and energetic start to the fourth full day of meetings, DCI introduced a strategic association with West Music and Drums Alive. The research- based program enhances wellness through percussion-focused workouts while promoting health and wellness activity through a combination of music and movement.

DCI will provide expertise for the percussion-based curriculum in a variety of ways – coordinating access to World Class drumlines for interactive content, opportunities for live and recorded demonstrations, and opportunities through expanded DCI partnerships. You can experience the energy and hear how the program originated. How?

The biggest surprise greeting DCI leaders came in the form of a new communication platform – DCI News Network – providing a way for everyone to experience drum corps in an exciting new way. Launched at the January conference, the network team covered sessions, conducted in-depth interviews with presenters and DCI community personalities, and recorded spots with corps drum majors for release leading up to spring training camps.

The DCI News Network will ramp up coverage in the coming months to share more important information for marching music programs from middle schools to high schools to colleges and universities in the quest for constant improvement in all facets of the marching arts.

You can stay up-to-date by going to dci.org where you will find the interviews with Dr. Kloesel, Julie Miceli, DCI World and Open Class leaders, new DCI board members, judges, directors, key staff members, and much more – all on the DCI News Network. Stay tuned!


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