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May 2018
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As promised, here are my views regarding the proposed rule changes the DCI Board of Directors will discuss later this month in Pasadena, CA.

Proposal #1 - Operation of Sound Board Moved Off-Field

Proposed by George Hopkins, Executive Director of Youth Education in the Arts and the Cadets

From the proposal:

The Sound board for DCI corps can be placed on the field, or in between the front sideline and the wall of the stadium. The board must be on the field of competition. It cannot be placed in the stands.

The board can be operated by a non-corps member if it is placed outside the field of competition.
The board cannot be adjusted via remote control. It must be adjusted with the use of a corps member or a member of the competing’ corps team. The “sound person? may or may not, speak to a corps representative in the stadium, in the stands, and via phone or wireless device.

PURPOSE/RATIONAL: (Why make this change-what are the benefits?)
Assuming that amplification can be a positive within productions, it is also true that there are, or can be, issues from time to time with the production of sound. At the same time, in no other activity would the sound be balanced from behind the speakers.

Allowing the board to be front of the ensembles will lead to a better production. Balances can be adjusted easily, potential problems can be controlled, AND, we do not have to use the skills of a student in standing and monitoring a board.

In short … this will provide a better experience for the member, the staff, and nervous staff and directors.

My opinion:

First of all, I am still opposed to the use of amplification in the drum and bugle corps activity. I have been less than impressed by what I have heard, both in terms of pit amplification and in terms of amplified voice, over the past two years.

What truly bothers me about this proposal is that there is now a possibility that a non-member of a drum and bugle corps will have a direct hand in the performance of the group while the performance is happening. Proponants of change in drum corps have always beaten their chest and proclaimed that these changes, as well as the activity itself, is "for the kids", insinuating that those who oppose these changes also oppose the members and the activity itself. Yet here is what I see as the potential impact of this rule change should it pass:

  1. The members of the pit now have less control over how they sound. I'm not sure how whoever controlling the sound board would communicate to the pit members should they need to alter their playing technique to blend in with the rest of the ensemble. Unlike professional performances where amplification is used, the corps do not usually have an opportunity to rehearse in the stadium the day of the competition. What's more, being an outdoor activity, the accoustics are much different than an indoor performance. On top of that, corps change venues almost every night during tour. There is no way to have the pit play the same during every performance and just let the sound board operator make adjustments.
  2. There is now another point of failure within the performance which the members cannot control. Before amplification, the only non-member point of failure was the instrumentation itself. In 2004, the amplification equipment added a 2nd point of failure outside the members' sphere of influence. Now, a third point of failure would be the non-member manning the sound board. If anything, this rule change makes the activity even more complicated and, in my opinion, unnecessarily so.
  3. Involving a non-member in the performance of the corps goes against the pro-education stance the activity has aggressively pushed over the past decade. Taking the sound board operation out of the hands of the members takes away their opportunity to learn about sound engineering, although an argument can be made that it shouldn't have been something the members needed to learn to begin with.

I understand the intent behind this proposal but I cannot support it.

Proposal #2 - New Color Guard Sheet

Proposed by Denise Bonfiglio of the Santa Clara Vanguard and Marc Sylvester of the Cadets

From the proposal:

The proposed change to the Color Guard Sheet removes Ensemble considerations from the existing sheet and focuses the adjudication process solely on the performers training, range and variety of skills, and achievement of skills.

PURPOSE/RATIONAL: (Why make this change-what are the benefits?)
The existing sheet has been in place for 5 seasons. Judges and instructors have struggled with understanding the intent of the sheet due to its broad focus. This is the only sheet within DCI that attempts to give credit to the performer from a technical perspective, and also credit the designer’s compositional choices as it relates to one section of the drum corps. There is no other sheet in DCI, or any other pageantry organization that attempts to blend technical merit, and designer choices into the same sheet. This issue has challenged DCI for 5 seasons in attempting to find judges that have the breath of skills required to properly adjudicate Color Guard in DCI.

The new sheet un-bundles the Ensemble consideration and focuses 100% on the performers training, the skills required by the performer, and technical achievement of those skills. Some of the benefits of the proposal are:

  • DCI should have an easier time finding judges that are expert in spinning/moving.
  • The assessment of the composition, and the performance of the Ensemble will be evaluated by judges that are, or should be, expert in the area of Ensemble Analysis as a whole.
  • The current two way weighting will be eliminated, meaning, the Ensemble Visual judge will be 100% accountable for evaluating the compositional worth of a color guard as it relates to the total program.
  • The color guard judge would be 100% focused on what the guard is doing from a skill base, and how well they are doing it.
  • Instructors will better understand what is being evaluated by the color guard judge.
  • Judge training would be reduced since a major element of the current sheet would be moved to the Ensemble judge exclusively.
  • This change would bring the color guard sheet more in line with how other captions are being adjudicated within the current system.

My opinion:

Put simply, I like any proposal that will put the focus of the judging on the performance and the technique of the performers. I also like any proposal that focuses on putting the best qualified judges for a particular caption in place and giving them the right sheets to do their job. This proposal does both for the color guard and, indirectly, the ensemble visual captions. Judges trained in color guard technique will be able to judge color guard technique, while ensemble visual judges will continue to do what they've been doing, just adding in the color guard to the overall ensemble judgement. I see no reason for this proposal to fail.

Proposal #3 - Extension of the Front Boundary

Proposed by Ron Hardin of the Santa Clara Vanguard

From the proposal:


To extend the distance of the front boundary from 10 feet to 12 feet from the front sideline.

PURPOSE/RATIONAL: (Why make this change-what are the benefits?)

Will allow front ensemble equipment to stay in front of the sideline proper and not intrude onto the field. Will allow for better staging of the color guard and their equipment transitions.

My opinion:

This is probably the least interesting rule change of the three proposed this year. All this will do is match the DCI boundary with other marching arts organizations like BOA. There really isn't a reason to worry about this proposal, no matter if you're for or against it. This one can pass without any fanfare.

Category:Reviews -- posted at: 5:54pm EDT