Making a Difference Through Education

Mike Lawson • Percussion • December 6, 2017

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Providing opportunities for the achievement of excellence in an innovative educational experience is what fuels Drum Corps International as “Marching Music’s Major League.”

While the ensembles taking part in the annual DCI tour continuously elevate the standards they’ve set for performance excellence in the marching arts, they also provide a tremendous depth of training for young people seeking to pursue a career in any one or more of the many fields they encounter during their immersive drum corps experience.

With broad performing arts opportunities in instrumental music education along with intensive specialized training in music, dance, theater, and even vocal performance, today’s corps members receive the benefit of working with a team to stage a show, a unique taste of life on the road, and an unparalleled opportunity to improve their individual skills in a fully focused performance environment.

Statistically speaking, more than 70% of drum corps members are full-time college students, and 60% of those are in music education and/or performance degree programs. In fact, drum corps influences music and performing arts education in multiple ways.

With the majority of DCI performers in college, many students help pay their school expenses by working on staff with high schools teaching everything from marching and moving basics to brass to percussion, while others focus on color guard instruction and even show design. Band directors often seek out corps members who are “fresh off the tour” to bring great ideas and new energy to their high school marching band, indoor drumline, and winter color guard programs.

Extending their drum corps marching years, many “ageouts” begin teaching on staff with corps, passing on their cutting-edge experiences to younger performers and further instilling a sense of ownership as the groups continue to evolve and flourish. The expertise they gain by continuing their time in the drum corps world also allows these students and recent college graduates to teach middle and high school students from a broader knowledge base.

As corps members continue their studies and graduate, they also find they have an added advantage when it comes time to enter the workforce. These vets have prime entries on their resumes that make them attractive for teaching positions or performance opportunities. Under the tutelage of established educators, aspiring music teachers and performing arts instructors garner opportunities to develop their classroom management and personal instructional portfolios in a way that’s unmatched by many more conventional student teacher experiences.

For thousands of students involved in the drum corps art form, teaching becomes a way of life and gives “The Three E’s” of DCI even more meaning – Education, Excellence, Experience.

You can be sure that these young educators will make a difference in the lives of those they teach, fueled by the passion they’ve inherited during their marching years and passed along in the wake of their seasons on the field of performance.

DCI congratulates the 50 Directors Who Make a Difference in this 20th anniversary year of this great honor by School Band & Orchestra. We thank you for all that you do for your students every day to prepare them working through the challenges they’ll encounter throughout their lives. Drum Corps International salutes you!

Barbara Nash, APR is President of Barbara Nash & Associates LLC and supports Drum Corps International through fully integrated strategic communications and market engagement services. She has a broad background in music and performance, and has two sons who each marched with DCI.

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