As innovative as some drum corps can be, there are some in the activity who are also guilty of poor design and use along with recycling and over using. Unless a group has found a unique or innovative use, there are things we just cannot endure for yet another season. In some cases, there are some things we need to hit the pause button on and others we need to just delete for all eternity.
No more terrible or dysfunctional props
Santa Clara Vanguard for a long time have been one of the most innovative in drum corps. The last few years in particular Vanguard, along with the Bluecoats, taught us the importance of proper design, function and the integration of props in a program. It wasn’t just merely that their props were constructed well, they found ways to integrate props into their show and use them to serve a function in the overall design.
Then you have some that, let’s face it, took a sloppy even lazy approach. On the DrumCorpsAF podcast, I pointed out that Carolina Crown, a former world champion and a corps we have come to have very high expectations for, took a less than stellar approach with their props this past season.
The props, a series of bones shaped structures and a see-saw, were meant to represent the “beast” their show centered around. The bones in particular were obviously cheaply constructed and did nothing to help add clarity to their the approach they wanted to take with their concept and served absolutely no function. Instead, I found that the props further confused their design.
The future of drum corps is clear. Props must now meet three criteria: a professional appearance, functionality and add an element to the overall design. The days of we are just going to set these right here and do our thing are now in the past. It is essential that props are as much of a performer as the corps members are. They must add dimension and, especially, clarity to the design. Crown’s props last season were more of a distraction than served any meaningful purpose.
Sure there are lots of corps who could have also done better with props. Do we even want to start with Phantom Regiments modified monkey bar props? Yes finances are always an issue. But here is a lesson my mom taught me a long long ago… if you can’t do it right… don’t do it at all.
No more false advertising
How many corps last season did you watch a show and end up asking yourself “What was that?” We definitely had plenty of head scratchers, including Phantom Regiment, the Crossmen and Crown. Quit trying so hard. It is ok to be abstract in the activity, but not so much to the point where if you have to take to social media, YouTube or the DCI broadcast to explain what your show is about or trying to accomplish for anyone to understand… then your design is a failure.
Also, not everyone can pull off the role of being a storyteller. Sometimes it is best to just have an basic idea or concept and run with it. Some corps just need to quit trying to hard.
Other things I don’t want to see…
- No more hideous uniforms. I am all for bold and daring, but no one wants to be inflicted with 12 minutes of eyesores.
- No more round stages… unless you found a way to really innovate how they are used, I think we have seen enough round stages for a while.
- No more fire. I love you Boston Crusaders, but I think we have officially reached overkill status on that for a while.
- Stop overusing trombones. They are among the bottom feeders of my favorite instruments as it is and at times their use is just downright annoying.
- Pump the brakes on New World Symphony. I was never the biggest fan of the piece and I’ve heard about all I can take for at least a decade. If I’m being honest, I would be happy to never hear it again.
- No more choirs. I think it is time the Cadets choir took a little summer vacation. Yes, they are quite good, but now your using them because you can, not because it adds anything to the show.
- No more over relying on your color guard to handle the bulk load of performing while the corps proper has a 2 minute park and blow session – every 2 minutes.