Aces Tattoo and the New Vision for Community Partners

Today, we are pleased to announce a community partnership with Aces Tattoo! While a partnership with a tattoo parlor may seem unusual for a music education organization, this partnership represents the first step in our new vision for community partners.

Currently, Arsenal has two categories of partners: Strategic Partners and Community Partners. Strategic Partners are large organizations that we partner with to ensure that our students have access to quality musical instruments, color guard equipment, and other supplies necessary for our programs. Throughout the marching arts, this form of partnership is the most common.

So, what then is a Community Partner?

Up until now, Arsenal Community Partners have simply been local businesses that have shown tremendous support for our organization. Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria regularly donates, hosts events, and has catered for Arsenal. Baum’s Music has also made significant donations, but even more importantly has helped us coordinate large shipments of musical instruments and other equipment. In this sense, however, Baum’s and Amore, like our strategic partners, have both provided support to Arsenal Inc rather than directly to our student members. Moving forward, we’re changing our definition of community partners, shifting their role from providing benefits to Arsenal proper towards providing benefits for our members directly.

To this end, our new vision for community partners is as follows:

We seek to create a community of local businesses that provide direct benefits to Arsenal’s student members. These benefits may take many forms, but in all cases will be an intrinsic part of being a member of an Arsenal program.  In doing so we hope to foster the growth of our community, support local business, and pursue innovative new relationships that allow us to increase the benefits our members receive beyond those offered directly by our programs.

Our partnership with Aces is our first step towards realizing this vision.

For those unfamiliar with the marching arts, tattoos are not only commonplace but also an important part of the culture. It’s not uncommon for members to get tattoos celebrating their instrument, where they marched, a corps motto, or a memory of their experience. Our partnership with Aces, thus, while unusual, serves as an excellent realization of our community partnership vision. Arsenal, in this case, is able to recommend and promote a reputable establishment, and Aces in turn provides a significant discount to our members. Both organizations also work to promote and celebrate each other, providing exposure through new communications channels. Altogether, the partnership works to provide a benefit to Arsenal members, increase Aces’ business, increase Aces/Arsenal visibility, and foster the growth of our community.

Moving forward, we want to expand our network of community partners into a diverse range of service areas. In doing so, we aim to embed Arsenal as a member of the Albuquerque community. As we grow our network, we’ll be providing additional incentives for local students to join and allowing our out-of-state members to experience more of Albuquerque’s vibrant culture. Looking to the future, we’d love to have partnerships with other programs to foster off-season athletics, mentorship and volunteer opportunities, and creative expression. Arsenal is an organization dedicated to providing an amazing member experience; with Community Partners we aim to take that experience beyond the field.



Represent a business that might be interested in a Community Partnership, or have a suggestion of a business we should look in to? Send me an email at .

2019 Brass Caption Head Announcement

Arsenal Drum and Bugle Corps is pleased to announce Tyler Clark as our 2019 Brass Caption Head!

Mr. Clark is a music educator, performer, clinician, and arranger from Austin, TX. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Texas State University, majoring in music performance. As an undergraduate, he worked as both a music and visual technician/consultant at Frenship ISD for 4 years, while maintaining a private studio. After moving to central Texas, he worked as a supplemental instructor for the Westlake High School band program in Austin (TX) for 3 years. Presently, he is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Music Performance from Baylor University in Waco, TX. His brass instructional career has included roles as a brass teacher for the Oregon Crusaders, Guardians, Music City, Pacific Crest, and Seattle Cascades, dating back to 2013. As a performer, he was a member of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps in 2009 and 2010, aging out in the latter year.

Mr. Clark will be joining returning Caption Heads Will Kramer (Percussion), Edwin Parker-Mendenhall (Color Guard) and Ziggy Garcia (Visual). He has been hard at work in the off-season, working with corps administration to prepare audition materials and assemble a stellar team of brass educators; we look forward to announcing more of his team as we get closer to auditions! In the meantime, please take a minute to visit our staff page and read the bios for some of the other wonderful designers and educators that will be joining us in 2019.

Ready to register for auditions? Go to to get started.

Announcing our 2019 Design Team

Arsenal Drum and Bugle Corps is pleased to present our 2019 Design Staff.

Following a successful season as caption head of Arsenal’s inaugural color guard, Edwin Parker-McConnell will be returning for 2019 with the expanded role of program coordinator.

Joining Arsenal’s design team for 2019 is Key Poulan, brass arranger for the Mandarin’s finalist program Life Rite After. Key will be joining Arsenal as music coordinator and brass arranger, and will directly oversee the creation of Arsenal’s music program.

Will Kramer will return for his third year as percussion arranger and will be overseeing Arsenal’s battery and front ensemble as percussion caption head. Additionally, Will will also be stepping into the role of staff coordinator, working with the instructional staff to develop rehearsal strategies and oversee the enforcement of student health and safety policies.

Originally from Albuquerque, Jeff Lee will be joining Arsenal as our Audio System Designer. Jeff is a former front ensemble arranger and instructor for the Blue Devils and is currently the Music Director for Mason Entertainment Group and one of the original creative members of the Broadway show “Blast!”, “Shockwave”, “CyberJam”, “M.I.X.”, and “Blast: the Music of Disney”. In addition to audio design, Jeff will also serve as a front ensemble and sound consultant.

Chris Johnston and Andrew Gaskill will be returning for their second season as Arsenal’s visual team. In addition to writing Arsenal’s drill, they will collaborate with Edwin Parker-McConnell to create Arsenal’s visual package, including costuming, staging, and props.

This team has been assembled to reflect Arsenal Performing Arts’ everlasting pursuit of greater heights, both in terms of membership experience and program quality. As we prepare to undergo Open Class evaluation for the 2019 Summer Tour, this team has been tasked with bridging the gap between the smaller SoundSport productions that Arsenal has performed previously with the significantly larger field shows performed by Open Class Corps. In striving to become the first ever DCI sanctioned Corps from New Mexico we desire to create an organization that not only elicits pride from our students and staff, but from the entire state of New Mexico.

More detailed bios can be found on our staff page.

Interested in auditioning for 2019? Join our Facebook Interest Group!

Arsenal Welcomes New Battery Staff for 2018

Arsenal Performing Arts is pleased to welcome an entirely new battery staff for the 2018 season. Regarding the change, corps director J. Spenser Lotz said “We’re very excited to welcome a number of new staff members to the team this season, but we’re especially excited about the new battery staff that will be joining us. This season represents our push towards Open Class, and so we wanted to bring in a group of individuals capable of teaching at that level. We’re happy to say that the three incoming educators are all from the El Paso area, which is where the second largest group of Arsenal students comes from, outside of the Albuquerque area.”

Daniel Reyes, an alumnus of both Revolution and the Blue Knights will be assuming the position of battery caption head for the 2018 season. Mr. Reyes has a wide background in the percussive arts, including high school and elementary education and the El Paso Wind Symphony, as well as a Bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Joining Mr. Reyes will be Dan Hunt and Josh O’Brien. Mr. Hunt is the Assistant Director of Bands and the Director of Percussion for Pebble Hills High School in El Paso. Mr O’Brien is an alumnus of Forte and Genesis and will primarily be working with Arsenal’s tenor section.


For more information, please go to our staff page here.


Announcing our 2018 Design Staff

Arsenal Performing Arts is incredibly excited to announce our 2018 Design Team.

Bill Spencer-Pierce – Brass Arranger

Best known as arranger and consultant to marching band programs, Spencer-Pierce has served some seventy school districts, having written hundreds of band arrangements for groups of all ability levels and sizes. His writing is informed by thirty years of classroom teaching in instrumental and vocal music in Indiana and California, and his book “Marching Band Arranging” has become a useful reference for new generations of writers. Spencer-Pierce’s output includes work for concert band, instrumental and vocal jazz ensemble, and, most recently, “Soundsport” projects.
He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the Indiana University School of Music, and a Master of Arts from Ball State University, where he served as arranger and teaching assistant in the Department of Bands. A Theatre minor at IU, he has directed dozens of plays, musicals, and musical revues in school, civic, and summer stock productions. Since 2005, Spencer-Pierce has served as Director of Vocal Music and Musical Theatre at Salem High School, Salem, Indiana.

Will Kramer – Percussion Arranger

William Kramer received his Bachelors of Music Performance in Percussion from the University of New Mexico and currently works as an elementary music teacher for Albuquerque Public Schools.  He has taught marching percussion at Rio Rancho High School and West Mesa High School, and currently works with Atrisco Heritage Academy marching band in addition to serving as percussion coordinator for the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program. He spent three years with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, and wrote and taught Arsenal’s Battery book last year. He is thrilled to be returning to write Arsenal’s percussion book again and to work as Arsenal’s Front Ensemble Caption Head as well.

Chris Johnston – Visual Designer

Chris is currently the music teacher at Jo Byrns Elementary School in Cedar Hill, Tennessee. He graduated from Austin Peay State University in 2011 with a degree in music education. Chris marched with the Memphis Sound Drum & Bugle Corps as a trumpet soloist in 2005. He then joined the Phantom Regiment (Rockford, IL) in 2006 and marched through the corps’ 2008 World Championship season as a soloist and section leader. From 2012-2016, Chris had the distinct honor of performing as a soloist and lead trumpet player for the 10-time defending DCA Mini Corps Champions, Star United Drum & Bugle Corps (Indianapolis, IN). Chris maintains an extremely active schedule as an adjudicator, designer, and clinician in the southeastern United States. As a program coordinator and co-drill writer, Chris helps guide the design and instructional process for the WGI Open Class Finalist, Audio Theater and has also worked with the WGI World Class Finalist, Palmetto Percussion. Chris has worked with drum corps such as the Academy, Memphis Sound, Music City, the Colts, and currently serves as the Assistant Visual Caption Supervisor for The Cadets. Chris is thrilled to be joining the design team for Arsenal Drum Corps, as a co-drill writer for the 2018 DCI season.

Andrew Gaskill – Visual Designer

Andrew graduated from Austin Peay State University in 2008, earning his Bachelors of Science in Music Education Summa Cum Laude. In 2011, he completed his Master’s in Instrumental Conducting, with honor, from APSU. Since 2011 he has served as director of bands at Sycamore High School in Pleasant View, Tennessee. The band was recognized in 2016 as the Class III Open Southern States Champion at USBands and the recipient of the Cadets Award of Excellence for Outstanding General Effect.
He is the co-founder and Executive Director of Clarksville Youth Performing Arts Association, a non-profit music association that operates Audio Theater, a WGI Percussion Independent Open ensemble. He serves as the ensemble’s director and as a designer. As an educator, he has previously taught with Spirit, Music City Legend as Co-Visual Caption Head, Visual Caption Head for Music City Drum Corps in 2014, visual staff for the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps in 2015 and 2016 and just completed the 2017 season with The Cadets. Andrew is thrilled to be joining the design team for Arsenal Drum Corps, as a co-drill writer for the 2018 DCI season.

Edwin Parker-McConnell – Colorguard Designer

Edwin Parker-McConnell is a New Mexico based music educator, colorguard instructor, choreographer, and consultant with over eight years of experience in the teaching field. His degree in Music Education is from the University of New Mexico. He has taught and written for various schools within the southwestern states, and has also written for Republic High School of Missouri. He experienced drum corps in 2010 with the Troopers, which proved to be an invaluable learning experience. Currently, Edwin resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico as the Associate Director of Bands and Color Guard Director at La Cueva High School, as well as a guard instructor for the University of New Mexico. Edwin believes that guard is not just about the competition, choreography, and other tangible elements that come along with it. It’s also about the passion, joy, and love that one develops for doing the activity that makes it so wonderful. This is at the foundation of all of his teaching.

A Note from the Director

The 2018 season represents another important step in our journey to Open Class. We, as an organization, wanted to assemble a team capable of writing an Open Class show within the SoundSport model, and I believe that this is the team to do so. The goal for 2018 is to continue to build from the 2017 season with a push towards Open in all aspects of the corps, from more members, to a longer tour, to a more refined show. Every single member of this team has expressed a desire to help Arsenal grow, and to help mold it into the vision we have for the marching arts in the Southwest. I could not be more excited to be working with this team, and I cannot wait to see the final product in San Antonio come July. For anyone considering marching Arsenal this is the year to do it, as we can only go up from here.

For more information on Arsenal’s Staff, please click here.

Arsenal Announces Show Committee

September 22nd- Arsenal Performing Arts is pleased to announce the formation of a committee centered around the creation of a Drum Corps International show in New Mexico.

Historical Background

The last DCI show to take place in New Mexico was Drums Along the Sandias (DATS) in 2012. DATS was primarily hosted by Ascend Performing Arts, the parent organization of the Blue Knights, and was presented intermittently from 1992 to 2012. In 2012 the show took place in Las Lunas and featured the Academy, Blue Knights, Phantom Regiment, and the Santa Clara Vanguard; the year previous the contest was held in Albuquerque and also included the Cadets and Blue Devils.

In continuing its effort to develop the Drum Corps culture in New Mexico, Arsenal seeks to reestablish this contest under a new name and new management. Working with the DCI Pacific Circuit, Arsenal intends to host an exhibition show featuring World Class Corps in 2018 and to grow the show into a true contest in 2019. Arsenal’s Board of Directors acknowledges that the motivation for the creation of this show is two-fold, and that in addition to the obvious benefits of presenting World Class corps to New Mexican audiences, the organization also wishes to establish the contest as a fundraising event for the corps. Specifically, Arsenal hopes to use the contest to raise the funds needed to purchase a full set of uniforms currently in development for the corps’ move to Open Class in 2019.

The Show Committee

The Show Committee will work in tandem with Arsenal’s Board of Directors and Executive Director to directly oversee the creation and management of a Drum Corps International sanctioned contest. Consisting of between 5 to 7 people, the Show Committee will be responsible for securing a venue, corporate sponsors, and volunteer staff for the event.

While anyone is welcome to apply to serve on the show committee, Arsenal is specifically looking for people familiar with hosting marching arts contests such as New Mexico’s Pageant of Bands and Zia Marching Fiesta. Candidates with experience in event planning, logistics, corporate relations and marketing are especially desirable.  The Committee will be led by a chairperson who will assist in the recruiting of additional committee members as needed. Committee Meetings will be on an ad hoc basis as determined by the Committee Chairperson.

Interested Candidates should email a resume and cover letter to Following review, candidates may be asked to attend an Arsenal Board meeting, or to meet with Arsenal’s ED and Board President.

Arsenal Performing Arts Announces Annual Fund

Looking Forward

As we set our sights on Open Class for 2019 we must remember how important the coming season is going to be for this young drum corps. In 2018, Arsenal will be the laying the groundwork for our future and there’s a lot that has to happen between now and our Open Class debut. By launching this annual fund, we invite you to help us lay that foundation.

The 2018 season already promises to be even more rewarding than our first season this past summer. We’re looking to double the size the corps, add two new sections, and add even more performance opportunities for our members. Doing this, however, is going to require a sizeable investment. For 2018 alone we are looking at purchasing close to $30,000 in new equipment, including five front ensemble keyboards and four new marching euphoniums. To transport this new equipment we’re going to need to invest close to $10,000 to purchase the necessary vehicles. It’s also worth mentioning that doubling the size of the corps also doubles the number of mouths we have to feed on tour, and so we’re going to be purchasing a small trailer and converting it into a mobile kitchen.

The Bombardier’s Club

Just as the Bombardier on a bomber is responsible for hitting his target, we look to the members of our Bombardier’s Club to help us hit ours; in total, we are looking to invest close to $50,000 this season alone to ensure that our members have the best possible experience. Not only will this equipment serve the corps this coming season, but it will also be instrumental in giving us the room we need to grow as we make the transition to Open. By donating to the Bombardier’s Club you are making an investment in the future of this corps, an investment that will continue to serve our students as we move into Open Class and beyond.

Help us hit our target by donating here.

Duke City Drum-Off 2017

Last year, Arsenal took over the Duke City Drum-Off, an Albuquerque based marching percussion competition. We adopted the DrumLine Battle format from Drum Corps International, and in the process transformed the event into a more approachable experience for performers and audience members alike. Overall, we were very pleased with how the day turned out and we’re excited to announce that we will again be hosting the Duke City Drum-Off for 2017.

This year’s DCDO will take place on November 11th at Balloon Fiesta Park, on the northeast end of the Launch Field. We aim to significantly expand the event from last year, and will feature food trucks and a vendor marketplace in addition to a day-long DrumLine Battle Tournament. We’re also pleased to announce that admission and parking will be free as we want as many people as possible to come out and support our young musicians.

We’re incredibly excited to again be providing this opportunity for young musicians to perform in our community. The Duke City Drum-Off is the only DrumLine Battle in New Mexico and the only opportunity for DrumLines to compete directly against each other, and so it is a truly unique experience for performers and audience alike. We’re still finalizing some of the logistics for the day, so expect even more announcements regarding sponsors and the day’s schedule as we get closer to the event. We hope to see you there!

For DrumLines

This year, we want to get as many DrumLines as possible involved in this event, including those from outside of Albuquerque. If you are unfamiliar with the rules of DrumLine Battle, you can read them here, but essentially DrumLine Battle pits two DrumLines against each other in direct competition. The Lines take turns playing, with each Line performing two segments of music approximately 2 minutes long each. The winter of each Battle is decided by a panel of three judges, who base the victor off of showmanship, technique, difficulty, and audience response. The competition is a double-elimination bracket, and we award prizes of concert percussion equipment to top three DrumLines. This year’s prizes are being sponsored by Baum’s Music, Music Mart, and Innovative Percussion!

For each DrumLine, we will be looking to charge a per student fee of $25 up to an ensemble maximum of $250, so even if you have 11 or more students competing you would still only pay $250. This fee goes towards covering the cost of licensing the DrumLine Battle from DCI and paying our judges. Additionally, each student will receive a DCDO 2017 T-shirt, and, based on feedback from last year, each ensemble will receive an adjudication sheet with comments about technique/general effect. DrumLines must register and pay their invoice by October 22nd in order to guarantee free shirts for their members.

You can register your DrumLine by filling out the form here.

For Vendors

We are looking for foodtrucks and vendors for the Festival Marketplace. We are still waiting on confirmation of our booth layout from the City and the fire marshal, but once we have that we will be able to provide pricing for space. In the meantime, if you are interested in space please contact us at so that we can ensure you are notified when pricing becomes available.




Arsenal Performing Arts Partners with Wessex Tubas

Arsenal Performing Arts is happy to announce a new partnership with Wessex Tubas. Following a successful competitive season using Wessex brass instruments, Arsenal reached out with regards to the possibility of becoming a Wessex Artiste. With both parties agreeing that such a relationship would be mutually beneficial an agreement was reached, making Arsenal the first Wessex exclusive Drum and Bugle Corps.

“We are extremely happy to be working with Wessex. When we were just getting off the ground they worked with us to help us purchase a full set of corps horns which enabled us to get a uniformity in sound and appearance that was completely out of reach using borrowed or personal instruments. We had a great run in San Antonio, and we greatly attribute that to our Wessex horns.”

– J. Spenser Lotz, Executive Director of Arsenal Performing Arts

Beyond continuing to use Wessex instruments into 2018 and beyond, another significant part of the agreement is that Arsenal musicians will not only provide feedback to help improve existing Wessex designs, but also field test new marching brass prototypes before they go into production. Beth Nielsen, Arsenal’s 2017 Horn Sergeant, said she was very excited that Arsenal was going to be field testing new Wessex marching brass because “…it puts the instrument construction in the hands of people who will be using them, and have experience with playing and marching, helping to further refine instruments that are already extremely specialized.” Nielsen also thanked Wessex for working with Arsenal saying “Having access to Wessex instruments has taken Arsenal one step further toward creating an independent organization capable of providing students with important, quality musical education.”

For more information on Wessex Tubas head to

Arsenal Performing Arts partners with Wessex Tubas