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Drum & Bugle Corps

Minnesota Brass Announces 2018 Brass Staff Leadership

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Former Drum Corps Associates (DCA) World Champions Minnesota Brass has named its brass leadership team for the 2018 season. Dr. Ward Miller will serve as Brass Arranger and Educational Advisor, Roque Diaz will serve as Brass Caption Head, Phil Snyder will serve as Brass Music Coordinator and Instructor, and Paul Terry will serve as Brass Instructor. The team will be supported by additional talented technicians to be announced later.

“We are excited to welcome this team of high-caliber talent and energy into the 2018 brass program,” said Todd Tanji, executive director of Minnesota Brass. “Each of these individuals has extensive experience both within and outside of the drum-corps realm which will enable us to provide a well-rounded musical experience to our members.”

Ward Miller

Ward Miller earned his bachelor of music degree from Auburn University in 2001, where he served as arranger and undergraduate teaching assistant with the Auburn University Marching Band. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2003 with a master’s degree in Trombone Performance, and served as part-time assistant and clinician with the Paradise Valley High School bands, the Mesa Community College Wind Ensemble and the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra. He has also taught in Alabama public schools, serving as Director of Bands at Andalusia High School and at Pleasant Grove High School. In 2006, he accepted a graduate teaching assistantship at the University of Iowa, where he studied with Dr. Myron Welch in Band Conducting. While at Iowa, he also worked as a teaching assistant with the Hawkeye Marching Band, for whom he wrote, taught, and conducted multiple arrangements and halftime drills. He also conducted the University of Iowa Concert Band and earned the 2008 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Miller graduated in 2011 from the University of Iowa with a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Band Conducting.

In 2014, Miller was appointed Brass Caption Head for the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps of La Crosse, Wis. He is an associate member of College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Roque Diaz

Scholar, educator, composer, creator, musician and music director, Roque Diaz is pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Education and Creative Studies and Media at the University of Minnesota. Diaz’s research interests are in arts-education policy and embedding diversity into the arts. Roque recently presented “Policies that Matter: Creating a Voice through Policy Awareness for Music Teacher Educators”, at the 2017 Society for Music Teacher Educators Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

Roque has developed a keen artistic eye and endless creative ideas travelling the world performing in such hit shows as “Jersey Boys”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Josh Groban on Tour”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Chicago the Musical”, “Blast!”, and much more. During Roque’s tenure with “Blast!”, he performed as a trumpet soloist and musical conductor. A seasoned veteran in the marching arts activity, Roque performed with Tarheel Sun (Cary, NC) and the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps (Denver, CO) where he was awarded the gold medal (2001) for the individual solo and ensemble championship on trumpet. Roque has composed and arranged for many K-12 programs, universities, and arts organizations. Roque is in the process of forming an international arts organization that is dedicated to making the arts a viable career choice whose mission is to provide consistent and sustainable employment to all diverse artists. Roque is excited to join the Minnesota Brass Organization.

Phil Snyder

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he studied music education, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied trumpet performance. Snyder currently is band director for the Waconia (Minn.,) School District, where he directs middle- and high-school ensembles. He is also an accomplished drill designer; bands that have performed Snyder’s designs have won 11 state championships and numerous sweepstakes awards. He has also been involved with drum and bugle corps for the past 17 years as a performer, instructor and designer for DCI World Class, DCI Open Class and DCA ensembles, most notably with Minnesota Brass and the Dubuque, Iowa-based Colts and Colt Cadets.



Paul Terry

Paul Terry joined the Minnesota Brass horn staff in 2007 and has helped lead the corps to three “high brass” awards – in its 2011 DCA Open Class World Championship season, as well as in 2010 and 2015. His drum-corps experience also includes performing with Minnesota Brass in 2005-06 and serving as a low-brass technician with the Colts in 2014-15. He also currently directs Maple Grove (Minn.) Senior High School’s Jazz 1 Band and Wind Ensemble and advises ISD 279’s Grove Area Percussion, the Class A state champion winter drumline. Terry also has taught the state-champion Anoka (Minn.) High School Marching Tornadoes and has served as trombone section coach for the Minnesota Music Educators Association’s All-State Jazz Band. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree in music education from Boston University.


Minnesota Brass Announces 2018 Leadership Team

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The board of directors of Minnesota Brass Inc., a St. Paul-based performing-arts organization, has selected the organization’s senior leadership to maximize talent and better meet the needs of its flagship ensemble, Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle Corps.

For the 2018 season, the executive team will comprise four leaders:

Todd Tanji, who previously served as chair of the Board of Directors, will become Executive Director, reporting to the Board of Directors. Tanji will take on the leadership of all artistic programs and supervise the artistic and educational staff for the drum corps.

Gavin Burnham will retain his long-standing role as President and CEO. In this capacity, Burnham oversees all aspects of the organization and manages key corporate responsibilities.

Eric Molho, who served as corps director and executive director from 2010 to 2016, will return in a leadership capacity as board chair. Molho will lead the Board of Directors in its responsibility for developing the organization’s strategy and achieving its mission.

Dave Whitaker will remain as Chief Financial Officer overseeing the day-to-day financial operations of the organization.

“Each executive team member has deep roots within Minnesota Brass,” Molho said. “We are confident the board has effectively matched the needs of the organization to our unique talents.”

Additional staff announcements will be shared in coming months.

Founded in 1946, Minnesota Brass holds several regional and national titles, including the 2011 Drum Corps Associates world championship. The corps launches its 72nd season in February 2018.

MBI salutes 2017 DCI participants

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As Drum Corps International moves into the final weekend of its 45th anniversary, Minnesota Brass salutes and congratulates past members who are participating in this year’s World Championships. You all are champions to us.

Past (and we hope future) members of MBI performing with DCI corps this year include:

  • Jon Karels, Kyle Tsuchiya and Zach Fitzgibbon (Bluecoats)
  • Will Selby and Jack Johnson (Pacific Crest)
  • Joanna Stubbins, Ben Linser, Tristan McGlaughlin and Steven Clark (Oregon Crusaders)
  • Zach Steffen (Madison Scouts)
  • Carter Schunk (Colts)
  • Jordan Widas and Savannah Kearns (Phantom Regiment)
  • Phil Snyder and Jake Esterberg (both staff, Colt Cadets)
  • Sierra Pattin, Colin Gilmore, Eric Dunnigan and staff members: Tiffany Kostuch, Brian Schutta, Bryan Jaeckel, Kirsten Bergstrom, Matthew Gullickson, Matt Haar, Andrew Dussl, Bryan Borg, Jim Jacobson, Lisa Rodenkirchen, Lauren Hipsag, Evan Pufpaff, Reggie Salas, Alex Cary, Jordayn Spike, Josh Sayler, Patrick Lyons, Chris Richman, Tanner Bergersen, Cole Hanton, Mike Olsen, Eric Elker, Ryan Schmidt, Jesse Talbot, Taylor Eliason (River City Rhythm)
  • RJ Bailey and staff members Rebecca Compton-Allen, Thomas Burton Reimer (Shadow)
  • Scott Palmer (staff, Blue Stars)
  • Mack Steinberg, Nick Soden, and staff member Scott Palmer (Blue Devils).

Best wishes for your continued success, and we hope to see you on the field again soon!

Friends & Family Preview Sunday, June 11th

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Minnesota Brass invites you to preview our 2017 program Pins & Needles this Sunday, June 11th at Brooklyn Center High School.

Friends and family of Minnesota Brass and its members, staff and volunteers are all welcome. Arrive at 1PM for a spaghetti lunch served by our fabulous volunteer crew. A $5 donation helps pay for our meals and facility costs – kids under 10 eat free!

At 2PM we’ll venture outside to coordinate our show a little before giving a preview of the first iteration of our 2017 field show. This is a great opportunity to see what we do all these weekends that your friends or relatives are with us.

Maki’s smile shone brightly on MBI

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If Dick Maki had a trademark, it had to be his blindingly bright, toothy and ever-present smile. And he almost lost that.

Longtime Minnesota Brass trumpet soloist Roger Grupp said he first met Maki when he joined the corps in 1971, and recalled traveling to the 1971 American Legion National Championships in Houston, Texas.

“We had a big pool party at the motel after not making finals,” Grupp said. “Dick jumped into the pool – and broke his teeth!” (Grupp remembered also jumping into the pool himself and hitting his chin on the bottom.)

Grupp also fondly recalled Maki, who had been a member of Minnesota Brass for some 60 years, as one of the corps’ “best and loudest” singers; he and longtime friend and fellow member Frank Lozar, who died in 2014, were the nominal leaders of a group of corps singers known as “The Gummers.” They specialized in “harmonizing” on World War II-era songs, especially “For All We Know,” which has become MBI’s theme song.

The Minnesota Brass Alumni Facebook page exploded with tributes to Dick as news of his passing spread.

Among other honors, Maki proudly wore his Brassy medallion, indicative of his being entered into the MBI Hall of Fame, and was also a member of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

In addition to playing in the horn line (French horn, baritone, tuba) and being a generous financial donor, Maki held a variety of roles with the corps, including serving as director and treasurer.

Former member Mike Palmquist recalled Maki’s work as treasurer while he was corps director and business manager in the latter 1970s. “I couldn’t have run things without Dick,” Palmquist said. “Every time I was getting too ‘spendy,’ he would slap me back to reality. We had a very close working association.”

Offering “advice” to his successors as corps directors apparently was another role Maki enjoyed. Grupp recalled times when then-director Jeff Burnham would make post-rehearsal announcements, “and Dick and Frank and Larry Wogenson would question just about everything Jeff said. There were some pretty heated discussions after nearly every rehearsal … they were all so passionate about the corps. Having three relatively recent past directors there to hear announcements every week must’ve been tough, but Jeff toughed it out.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say they gave me ‘the business,’” Burnham chuckled. “But they did always have something to say.” Burnham, who was corps director in the late ’60s and early ’70s, recalled, “What I liked about those three guys is I’d listen, then ask questions because they did have a history with the group and were loyal to the corps. Dick really wanted the corps to improve and try to get something going. I used Dick for advice and answering questions … Dick was very good to talk with, he knew the old guard and how to interpret them and diplomatically talk to me.”

Burnham also fondly recalled Maki’s roll as a “transitional” role model as the corps evolved over the years. “No matter what was happening or who was doing something, he would try to find the good in what they were doing. He would broadcast it, but he had respect for everybody.”

As an example of Maki’s dedication, Burnham noted his decision to move from French horn, which he’d played for many years, to tuba/contra bass. “He really struggled to learn the contra, but he worked his ass off to do it. I really respected that.”

A memorial service for Dick Maki, who died May 12 (a week before his 83rd birthday), will be held at 1 p.m. June 3 at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 1660 W. County Road B, in Roseville, Minn. Visitation begins an hour earlier.