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Insider Archive - Minnesota Brass

Some Thoughts on Competition

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So we haven’t made much time to talk about competition this year, and I wanted to share some thoughts and some details with you all as we head into the final two weeks of the competitive season.  This is particularly important for those of you who are new to Minnesota Brass and the DCA World Championships.

Before getting into the specifics, let me take just a moment to remind you that competition in art is inherently ridiculous.  Measuring the effect that music has?  Measuring how well the audience is entertained?  Measuring who’s flags have a greater impact on communicating an emotion in the show?  Please.   We compete because it helps us to get better and because it inspires us to reach new levels of excellence.  We compete because it’s fun for our audience and for us as performers and designers.  But the value of your art, the impact of your performance and the reasons you do this, are not at all well represented by a single number.

296274_10150391808702425_700292975_nHaving said that, we participate in an activity that is devoted to trying to measure just such nonsense.  No doubt by now you’ve seen the ‘rankings’ of corps floating around that show everyone’s most recent score from highest to lowest.  The good (and I’d say accurate) thing about these these rankings is they show three corps bunched together at the top of the competitive landscape–the Buccaneers, Caballeros and us.  Each of these corps scored within a point of one another on Saturday.  This is exciting and cool and is probably an indication that these three corps are all contenders for winning a championship in two weeks.  You should feel proud that your work has once again resulted in Minnesota Brass being among the very best corps in our activity.

Next weekend, most of the corps on the East Coast will compete again.  They will get another score which will almost certainly be higher than the number they currently have.  It’s possible that another corps (Cadets2) could receive a score higher than the score you earned on Saturday.  These final scores will then be used to determine the performance order for semi-finals at DCA.  What history has taught me is that, regardless of what the scores are next weekend, many of our members will feel frustrated and disappointed that our peers have an opportunity to achieve a higher score that we don’t have.  Many will say the system is unfair and the competitive field is uneven.

To a certain extent, I agree with that.  We *do* have a steeper hill to climb; our competitors do have an opportunity we don’t have.  So what?  Whether you are seeded 3rd or 4th on Saturday night should not impact your ability to perform.  What the Bucs score or the Cabs score or C2 scores next week has no bearing on the scale you should be using to measure your performance.   Being better than the Bucs is not much of a goal; being balls to awesome great is a pretty good one.

While we spend a lot of energy thinking about the performance order for semi-finals, I’m not convinced it matters much.  You should know that at the semi-finals performance, the judges “hold” their scores.  What does that mean?  Without getting too technical, judges have two jobs–they have to RATE how well you perform and RANK how well Scoreseach group does relative to other groups.  Back in the day, judges turned in the scores for each corps immediately after that corps’ performance.  This meant that for tight competitions, the earlier corps were often at a disadvantage.  A judge might hear the best drum line in the middle of the performance order, but it would be hard to give them a huge score because the judge would want to leave room just in case a later drumline sounded even better and earned a higher number.  Well, at DCA they don’t do that.  The judges put their scores down and “hold” the sheets until each corps is done competing.  This allows them not only to RATE our performance (immediately after we perform) but to double check and make sure they are accurate in their RANKING of each corps performance (after they’ve seen everyone).  So, in theory, if that kick ass drumline that performed early in the night was still the best drumline at the end of the night, the judge can make sure their numbers reflect that.

If you think this corps can win a World Championship (and you should think that), than the only thing we have control over is us.  How much we practice outside of rehearsal, how effective we are at rehearsal together and how we perform in Rochester.

Some in our organization still insist that “they” (the judges and administrators who run DCA) won’t let us win a championship or are biased against Minnesota Brass.  There was certainly a time this was true.  But today, in 2015, I don’t believe that for a second.  We’ve won a championship.  We’ve won multiple caption awards.  We’ve heard from judges who tell us we are very much in the mix of top tier corps.  Sure, our path is a little tougher than the other guys.  Who cares?  It’s not judges that determine our performance in Rochester.  It’s us.

Dues Update and Credit Card Fee Waiver

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Throughout the summer one of the less pleasant tasks the admin team gets to tackle is going through our list of members, name by name, and reviewing everyone’s account status.  At our last review of everyone’s account, Katy reminded me that we have not officially declared a due date for your dues.  So here you go:  If your dues are not paid in full by JULY 15, they will be considered delinquent.  Of course, folks who have joined in the last 30 days or so have a little more flexibility, but for the vast majority of the corps, July 15 is the day!

sale-rt-redTo help provide an incentive for you to get this wrapped up ASAP, we will be waiving any credit card processing fees all week!  That’s right:  If you bring your debit or credit card to me or Katy this week we won’t add the additional processing fee on to your payment.  It’s not a lot of money, but it’s one less thing to worry about, one less excuse to slow you down.  So let’s get this wrapped up okay?  You can pay on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday and make sure that you are paid in full.

If you have questions about how much you still owe, please email Dave Whitaker at:  dave@mnbrass.org

As a reminder, your dues are essential to make this experience possible.  They help pay for your buses, food, instruments, uniforms, instructors, hotel rooms at finals, facility rentals and quite a bit more.  Failure to pay your dues means you’re letting the rest of the corps down, not fulfilling your responsibilities as a member and putting yourself at risk of not marching with the corps.  Please connect with Katy and let’s get you paid up or on a plan to do so!  (And of course, to the many of you who are already paid in full:  Thanks for being on top of things already!)

Schedule Updates & Daniel Galloway Clinic!

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Schedule Updates/Changes
We’ve made a few adjustments to the calendar I’m excited to share with you.  (All changes are now reflected on the online/google calendar.)

Schedule-Change-ThumbnailThe biggest change is that we have accepted an invitation to perform at Prairie Colors at Eden Prairie High School on Saturday, September 12. For many of us, this will be the first time we have ever performed with Minnesota Brass after DCA finals. (For many years this was common practice and part of the corps schedule! Ask our long-term vets for details.) We accepted this invitation for several reasons. First, it’s an opportunity to for us to play for hundreds of future potential members marching with some of the state’s very best marching bands. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to for us to perform locally when our show is at its very best. I know this schedule change may be a challenge for several of you. It’s a long season and you may have school obligations. However, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate the end of our year at home, help strengthen our recruiting efforts for the future and have a lot of fun together. Please do all you can to free your calendar during the day on Saturday, September 12.

Other updates to the calendar include:
• We will have sectionals on Sunday, July 12 the day after DCI Minnesota from 12 – 4 p.m. This was previously listed as a HOLD or Tentative on your calendar. I decided to use this time since we have an incredible opportunity for our hornline to work with Clinician Daniel Galloway that day (see details below)
• Camp July 25/26 will be at Northdale Middle School
• Rehearsal July 31 before the St. Paul DCI show will be at Brooklyn Center High School
• Friday, August 21 has been reduced to a 12 p.m. start rather than all day. Rehearsal in the afternoon will be at the show site—St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights
• Our traditional truck potluck (usually held the Wednesday after finals) will move to Saturday, September 12—after our performance at Prairie Colors. We will perform in the afternoon and then go to a nearby park for a potluck/picnic/fun celebration.

Daniel Galloway to Make our DCI Minnesota Even More Awesome

DCI Minnesota is our biggest local show and provides an opportunity for thousands of Minnesota drum corps fans to see Minnesota Brass live. It’s a chance for us to perform with the world’s best full-time corps and showcase what we can do. It’s always a highlight of our season.

daniel_gallowayThis year, our DCI Minnesota experience will feature an additional bonus as our hornline will be working with a long-time DCI brass instructor and future judge, Daniel Galloway. Daniel was on staff with the Spirit from JSU as a visual instructor in 2006 and assistant visual caption head in 2007/2008. He then spent two years on the horn staff with the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps. In 2012 he joined the brass staff of the Santa Clara Vanguard. He is currently in the process of becoming a judge for DCI and will be spending the weekend in Minneapolis working with the Blue Devils and providing critique tapes at the DCI Minnesota Show.

We will be welcoming Daniel to Minnesota Brass on Friday night during rehearsal at Irondale. He’ll be making a tape for us during our performance on Saturday and then have an opportunity to work with the hornline section on Sunday, July 12.

All sections will have a sectional on July 12 from 12 -4 p.m. and we will use this opportunity to get even better. I hope you’re as excited as I am!

Important DCI Minnesota Updates!

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TCF Bank StadiumHard to believe DCI Minnesota is less than two weeks away!  Here’s some important information for you as you look ahead:

1.  TICKETS:  As a reminder, you can order tickets for your friends and family with no transaction fee through the corps!  These are great seats.  Details were posted a long time ago, so here’s the link to remind you.

2.  FREE ACCESS:  If you have friends who would love to see the show, but can’t afford to, we still need volunteers!  All of these volunteer roles include access to the show and a free t-shirt.  Some of the jobs that we still need to fill (such as evening usher) means they’ll get to watch most of the corps while they’re working!  Send your friends here to get them signed up!

3.  YOUR SCHEDULE:  You will reeive Brass Tacks by this Friday, but here’s a run down of your schedule for the weekend.  It’s a full, fun weekend!

Friday night, July 10:  Rehearsal is 6 – 10 p.m. at Irondale HS (we will have the stadium, but still need horns to line two practice fields at 5 p.m.)

Saturday, July 11:  Rehearsal is 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. also at Irondale HS.  Lunch provided and showers available from 4-5.  We reconvene at TCF Bank Stadium to start warmup at 7:30.   We are the last unit to perform.

IMPORTANT:  Because we are the local Tour Event Partner with DCI and because this show helps financially support the corps, we are responsible to help with some of the clean-up/tear down at the end of the night.  You will receive assignments by section and we will get you out as quickly as we can.  Just know you will not be dismissed until all of our tear-down responsibilities are complete.

Sunday, July 12:  Sectionals at 2700 Lone Oak Point from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.  This is now confirmed.  We WILL have sectionals on Sunday.


Minute by Minute: Monday, June 28, 2015

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Here is your updated schedule for Monday, June 28, 2015:
Reminder:  Lights out at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday evening means SILENCE IN THE GYM!
Monday June 28:
7:00  a.m.  Lights on; Breakfast available in the Commons
Keep all food in the Commons please!
8:00 – 10:30 Rehearsal:  Bring your uniform to the trailer and hang it on your uniform rack first thing this morning.
10:30 – 12:15 p.m.  You must accomplish the following:
  • Shower/clean
  • Eat lunch (lunch will be ‘grab-n-go’ available at your convenience between 10:30 and noon in the Commons)
  • Pack your personal belongings and get them loaded onto the bus; everything should be out of the gym by 12 noon
  • Pack corps equipment per usual assignments by section
  • Complete your section assignment below (Percussion and guard can accomplish their tasks immediately after rehearsal; horns should plan on starting their tasks at about noon.)
Section Assignments for Cleaning Alexandria Area High School
  • Color Guard:  Load guard trailer; Sweep both parking lots on this side of the building.
  • Snares:  Sweep the far grass field
  • Tenors:  Sweep the middle grass field
  • Basses/Cymbals:  Sweep the stadium field and stands; remove all blue tape, confirm the press box is locked
  • Front Line:  Load percussion trailer (per usual)
  • Trumpets and Tubas:  Clean the Commons area including wiping every table and putting all chairs back neatly
  • Mellophones:  Clean the small gym (where we slept) collect all lost and find; sweep floor
  • Bari/Euphs:  Clean and check both locker rooms; remove all lost and found, dispose of trash,
HOW TO “SWEEP”  a large outdoor area (in this case, a football field):
Line up at the edge of the endzone, spreading out evenly from sideline to sideline
Each person walks forward slowly scanning the area in front of them; stay in line
Walk from one endzone to the other picking up every scrap of paper, piece of plastic, water bottle, lost and found item that you discover
Put all collected items in the trash (unless you honestly think someone will want it such as  sweatshirt)
Section leaders should pick up a trash bag from Jodi before sweeping the zone; return lost and found items to Eric, Katy, Jodi or Linda.

12:25 p.m.  Butts in Seats on the Bus
12:30  Depart for Mankato
4:00  Arrive Mankato; dinner on your own
6:00 Warm up begins
7:20 Gate
7:26 ON!
10ish–(15 minutes after the last score is announced) Depart for Eden Prairie High School.  Our exact departure time will be sent via text.
11:30 (perhaps later) arrive Eden Prairie High School