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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:14 am 
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Rick Beckham wrote:

Unfortunately when GE is the major caption, the result will be performance art or an attempt at such from amateur artists.



And the PROBLEM with drum corps (or any marching unit) attempting performance art from amateur artists is that you will see more bad art than good. You will never meet an artist who thinks their work is bad. Not to mention having a judge or group of judges justify "art" with a score. This is why the marching activities have become such a mess.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:22 am 
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NateSilv wrote:
James, I get what you are saying. Super-serious concepts (cancer/suicide/child abuse) are just as absurd as the dandelions. It's all bad to me. I'd just prefer they didn't exist at all rather than one or the other.


Nate, I'll agree with you there. I guess it's a matter of preference on which type of bad is the worst. (Sounds a lot like our elections to me!) I won't argue over that. I think we both agree with Dennis' statement:

Spirit Snare 80 wrote:
What ever happened to the show concept "let the drumming speak for itself" ?
Get rid of the smoke and mirrors. The group that drums the best wins the show.


Just to clarify on some of my previous statements... I guess I somewhat sympathize with Minnesota Brass' show. I've done indoor once as an instructor. I didn't really have a choice in the matter if I wanted to keep my job. I was pretty much told, "You WILL do indoor this year." We had a young group, and I had never done it, so I didn't feel like I knew the system well enough. We ended up doing a medley of a bunch of cartoon themes. (I had no budget, but I did decide to draw cartoon characters on thick poster board to at least give some type of visual presence, since I knew it was part of the scores.) We got a non-percussion student to turn the cards around at the right time in the music. With the percussion students, we solely focused on music and marching. I wrote the parts as hard as I thought we could play them cleanly. I told the students, "I have no idea how we'll end up scoring, but this will be a learning process for all of us. Our goal is to get better, play cleanly, and entertain the audience. Any good scores we get on top of that will just be icing on the cake." I feel like we accomplished those goals.

BTW, if anyone hasn't seen the show, it can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_Iq_n2gv0w

I believe 2013 was MN Brass' debut year. I figure they had much the same attitude--don't worry so much about scores, just be fun and entertaining. They ended up making finals, so I hope the instructors and performers accomplished their goals for that year.

I completely get where you're coming from, and I can see how this type of show might seem to be a worse form of "bad." But for a first year "getting your feet wet" type of show, as a spectator, I'd personally prefer super goofy over super serious. But like you, I'd prefer super serious drumming--and leave the goofy/serious concepts to other art forms.

--James


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:11 pm 
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James your kids played well and clearly had great instruction. Lots of rudiments going on for a developing high school group, I have nothing to hate on there at all. I've seen some terrible playing by some high school indoor groups (not being mean at all, I try not to bash high school kids, but it's just the truth) and would take that over plenty else. I have no problem with the MUSIC being kind of silly....the Dandelion thing is just so far off just having silly music.

Your high school kids definitely benefit from having you as an instructor! We have the video tape to prove it....


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:56 pm 
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We competed in the "indoor" arena way back in the '80's and '90's. When the local shows began, most, if not all of the drum lines
brought a somewhat modified version of their "outdoor" show to the "indoor" environment. We designed drill to highlight solo
sections and added a few odds and ends in the pit to enhance the battery parts. There were no props to speak of, although some
groups started this trend and the rest of us followed suit. Themes were almost non-existent unless the halftime music followed
that route. The lines that won simply played the cleanest and most difficult books. You could get away with more ticks inside
because of the acoustics of the gym, but most judges were savvy enough to wade through all of the echoes. I enjoyed taking
kids to these local and semi-local events. They learned a lot and the spirit of competition was high. One contest even held a
parade contest through the downtown area of the city. It was an all day event. Good memories.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:45 pm 
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NateSilv wrote:
I have no problem with the MUSIC being kind of silly....the Dandelion thing is just so far off just having silly music.

Your high school kids definitely benefit from having you as an instructor! We have the video tape to prove it....


Thanks, Nate. I've appreciated your thoughts on this discussion.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:25 pm 
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USoundFuzzy wrote:
The drummers themselves need to ask "WHAT AM I LEARNING FROM THESE VISUAL PEOPLE AND WHY SHOULD I SACRIFICE MY PLAYING ABILITY TO PRESENT THEIR IDEAS INSTEAD OF OUR DRUMMING?"


That's the main issue in a nutshell, and it has been for some time now.

The horn players need to ask this as well.

Even the color guard members needs to ask this. There is a difference between color guard and visual design, even though the two overlap considerably. There is true skill in twirling, spinning, tossing, and even dancing (even though I'd prefer the latter wasn't incorporated into guard work). I won't say there is zero skill in conveying a concept, but why should drummers, brass players, and guard members sacrifice the uniqueness of their skills for a secondary skill that takes away from their uniqueness?

The whole system is so entrenched in drum corps, winter guards, indoor lines, and marching bands across the country, I wish anyone luck who wants to take it on. For me, I am fortunate to be able to "do my own thing" (i.e. playing as difficult of music as possible as cleanly as possible) with the drum line I teach, and I have a very supportive head band director, students, and parents. Most people enjoy our shows, and the students learn to play at a high level. In short, I offer a certain product (my teaching and writing style), and there is a market for it.

I have tried taking on the system in various ways, and it ultimately ended in frustration. It created animosity among people, and I had very little to show for it. My most effective gains have come from simply presenting an alternative and letting it speak for itself. Some people like it, and some people don't. Either way, it's okay that they have their preferences. And ultimately, as you present what you enjoy, you get to find and associate with people who share your interests.

A number of years ago I read How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by libertarian economist Harry Browne. I recently re-read some sections in it. He basically says that you can devote your life to trying to change the world, or you can live your life doing what you want to regardless of the world. If you have to change the system in order to be free, then you are enslaved to the system. Corrupt systems exist everywhere--in government, in business, in education, in religion, in volunteer groups, etc. (That is not to say that all systems are corrupt, but all systems have the potential to be corrupted, and we should be cautious in trusting any system to provide what we desire.) In pursuing your own goals and presenting the things that are meaningful to you, you will reach others, and ultimately the "system" will be changed, but that's a pleasant side effect of living your life freely. If your goal in life is to change the system, then you will be frustrated again and again. But if your goal in life is simply to live as you enjoy living, then you can be free to do as you like every day. If the system is changed as a result, so much the better.

My thinking today is definitely more in line with this perspective. I'd rather write and perform the music I enjoy. I don't need competition to perform at my best level, but I can use competitions as vehicles for presenting the style I think is worth presenting. Due to human nature, I believe objective competitions inherently create a system in which the highest level of skill is promoted, but you can still pursue that level of skill even if no widespread system is in place. If you present it often enough, people will take notice, and the system will eventually change as a result.

People can complain about Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and poor quality food. They can try to take on the system and be confronted with a massive giant of legal protection and near endless monetary resources. Or... they can "do their own thing" and open up a "Sprouts" or "Whole Foods." They can start a restaurant that uses high quality healthy ingredients. In short, they can offer an alternative--and a lot of people will choose it. In the free market of ideas, you have a monopoly on the things that are meaningful to you. In all likelihood, there is a market, however small, that will be interested in the "product" you offer. You don't have to change the world to have the things you want. You simply have to do the things you want, and the rest will fall into place.

Ultimately, people march drum corps--or choose not to march drum corps--because they want to. Some people enjoy WGI in its present form. Many do not. The visual designers have ridden the coattails of competitive drum corps, and they've been quite successful getting their way into the already corrupt public school system. My current opinion is that the only way to take on this system is by presenting a better one. The multiple philosophies of competition need to be in competition with each other. Currently, there isn't much competition for the BOA/DCI/WGI system. As our own political system demonstrates, simply exposing the corruption of the system doesn't do much to change it. People have to have something they can pursue, not simply something they want to avoid.

I feel like this site has offered one of the best alternatives available in the world of rudimental drumming. It was one of the first websites to host audio and video of high quality playing and demonstrations of rudimental skill. I remember in the early 2000s (pre-YouTube) that it really changed the tone of a lot of Internet conversations. I feel like it did make a major contribution toward promoting a higher level of playing in general. I think most people agree that the drum lines of today are better than they were 15 years ago. The increase in competency certainly didn't come by dismantling the system. It came by offering something better. I feel like there is still a long way to go, but the only way to get there is by making more people aware of the possibilities and giving a new generation the tools to step up to the plate.

--James


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 11:17 pm 
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James I enjoyed reading that.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:10 am 
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One book that opened my eyes on the term "selfish" is "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand. Although I don't agree with all of the objectivist philosophy, Ms Rand knocked it out of the park with this book. Most people confuse the word selfishness, as James previously stated, and convince themselves that if selfishness to any degree is bad, then the opposite, selfless, is not only good, must must be the bar to which everyone is expected to act.

Case in point: New Yorkers enjoy steak at home and in their restaurants, not because Wyoming cattlemen love them and wish to selflessly serve them, but rather because Wyoming cattlemen are self-interested in their own well-being, and thus raise cattle to fill the market. The net-plus is that New Yorkers, and people in other places, get to enjoy a nice juicy steak when they have the urge.

Some of Ken's points are on the money. As a society we are working to remove competition from most aspects of our lives, but it was competition (only the best steaks make it, bad steaks will eventually result in a change of business behavior or loss of business), and self interest, that resulted in a society where the poor are obese and life now is better than at any time in human history (try washing your clothes by hand, or raising your own food).

It is interesting to note that as society becomes less competitive, as govt becomes more of a tool to redistribute wealth or to even the playing field, then education becomes more meaningless. To understand this, think of an extreme where everyone has all their needs (housing, food, energy, healthcare) supplied by the govt. At this point, what incentive is there to achieve?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:37 am 
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Rick,
You have a way of putting things in perspective and I appreciate not only what you say, but how you say it. I'm going to check that book out...thanks!!!!!!!!!!

Rick Beckham wrote:
One book that opened my eyes on the term "selfish" is "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand. Although I don't agree with all of the objectivist philosophy, Ms Rand knocked it out of the park with this book. Most people confuse the word selfishness, as James previously stated, and convince themselves that if selfishness to any degree is bad, then the opposite, selfless, is not only good, must must be the bar to which everyone is expected to act.

Case in point: New Yorkers enjoy steak at home and in their restaurants, not because Wyoming cattlemen love them and wish to selflessly serve them, but rather because Wyoming cattlemen are self-interested in their own well-being, and thus raise cattle to fill the market. The net-plus is that New Yorkers, and people in other places, get to enjoy a nice juicy steak when they have the urge.

Some of Ken's points are on the money. As a society we are working to remove competition from most aspects of our lives, but it was competition (only the best steaks make it, bad steaks will eventually result in a change of business behavior or loss of business), and self interest, that resulted in a society where the poor are obese and life now is better than at any time in human history (try washing your clothes by hand, or raising your own food).

It is interesting to note that as society becomes less competitive, as govt becomes more of a tool to redistribute wealth or to even the playing field, then education becomes more meaningless. To understand this, think of an extreme where everyone has all their needs (housing, food, energy, healthcare) supplied by the govt. At this point, what incentive is there to achieve?

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