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 .


This Saturday, Arsenal returned to San Antonio to compete in the Southwestern Championship, and we had a blast performing three times; our show, the SoundSport anthem, and then a DrumLine Battle to wrap up the day. We defended our Best of Show Title, and received a performance ranking of Silver. We lost the DrumLine Battle, but it was so much fun to face off against the Guardians and throw down in front of thousands of people. I told the DrumLine, “you’ve done the hard work, now have some fun” and that’s exactly what they did.

That night, around midnight, I left the stadium with the souvie van. The plan was to meet the bus somewhere on the road, and then swap folks between the van and the bus as we got tired to keep pushing through to El Paso. Then my phone started ringing- something was wrong with the bus.

We stopped, we turned around, and we called EVERYONE. We had to get our members out of the heat and we had to get moving again. We succeeded with the first, but struggled with the latter. It was 1:00am; there wasn’t another bus, there wasn’t a service truck, and most corps already had their drivers in the hotel for the night. We sent out a van to go to every hotel in the area and ask if there was a conference room we could crash in. Staff that was already an hour out turned around to make sure we had the people we needed to take care of this situation.

Then I learned that the equipment truck, already in Carlsbad, had blown a tire. And that the bank had shut down the Arsenal debit cards because of ‘suspicious activity’.

The Alamodome as seen at 2:00am

We ended up leaving the Alamodome a full 24 hours after our performance time.

And you know what? Everything went wrong and we pushed through. The members shrugged it off like it was nothing; they went, they slept, and carried on like this was nothing new. I remember a moment where I was hunched over my laptop, trying another lead, and pausing because I heard the members laughing in the room next door- they were taking salsa lessons with our visual caption head.

Parents started blowing up my phone. How can we help? What do you need? We’ll have pizzas for you. We’ll have sack lunches for you on the road.

But The staff were the real heroes. We were all exhausted, but they pushed through and they got it done. They got meals donated. They fought the bus company for me while I slept. They kept the members happy, and they kept the ball rolling. I am eternally grateful to my staff for going above and beyond.
Above all else, this incident proved that Arsenal has what it takes. We have the right people, in the right places. We’re a family, and we meet disaster with a smile and a ‘together, we can fix this’ attitude. I am so proud of this little corps, and am amazed at the sheer strength of character I witnessed over the past forty-eight hours.

A huge thank you to John DeNovi, who recommended we shelter in the Alamodome, and a huge thank you to the Alamodome staff for letting us do so. Thank you to Robert Taylor for serving as remote admin. Thank you to the countless admin teams who paused their post SW celebration to try to help our little corps out. Thank you to the folks who donated on our website. Thank you to Denny’s for giving us breakfast at a massive discount, to San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk for donating bottled water, and to Whataburger for donating lunch. Thank you to the parents who made lunches for us. Thank you to the drivers for Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps and Sacramento Mandarins who helped us jump our bus.

…and thank you to Arsenal’s members and staff. Words can’t express how proud I am to call this organization home. I can’t wait to celebrate our season with you tonight.

Where do we go from here?

As of last Saturday, the 2017 DCI season officially ended with Finals in Indianapolis. Now, only a few days later, equipment trucks are locked up, rental vehicles have been returned, and instruments have been sent in for cleaning and repair. Now there’s just one question on the mind of every corps director:

Where do we go from here?

Arsenal had a very successful season from a variety of standpoints. While we were competitively successful in San Antonio, that success pales in comparison to some of the other achievements of this new organization. As of the season’s end, Arsenal owns enough instruments to field a corps of 50 students next year. Further, we’ve already made plans to acquire additional instruments to add a new aspect to our program; the front ensemble. We’ve secured more strategic partnerships than almost any other SoundSport Team in existence, and are making waves with sponsors and other programs with our innovative approach to the activity and our creative resource management strategies.

So where do we go from here?

While it is potentially within our means to make the push to Open Class, the Board of Directors and myself have decided that it would be better to grow our program within the SoundSport model before committing the resources to go Open. Having reviewed DCI’s Criteria for the Open Class evaluations, our plan is to tailor the 2018 season as a bridge between where we are now and Open Class, potentially making the transition as early as 2019.

Simply speaking, the 2018 season will be focused on growth. For our first season, we chose not to have front ensemble or colorguard in order to minimize cost, but we will be adding both of these sections for the coming season. We also plan to add more musicians in both the brass and battery sections to further grow the corps. This growth in numbers will go hand in hand with the growth of our tour, and we hope to add at least one more major show to our schedule as well as some smaller shows in between larger events. Internally, we are looking to expand both our instructional and administrative staff, and to use the knowledge gained this past season to ensure an even smoother season in 2018.

The 2018 Arsenal Drum and Bugle Corps

While we will still be a SoundSport Team in 2018, there are a number of significant changes that we are hoping to instigate to help us begin the transition to Open Class.

The most significant of these will be that we aim to double the size of the corps from 33 to around 67, with the following corps composition:

32 Brass

  • 11 Trumpets
  • 10 Mellophones
  • 6 Baritones
  • 5 Tubas

18 Battery Percussion

  • 6 Snares
  • 3 Tenors
  • 5 Basses
  • 4 Cymbals

5 Front Ensemble

  • 2 Marimbas
  • 2 Vibes
  • 1 Xylo/Glock

10 Colorguard

2 Drum Majors

  • One position open only to returning members
  • One position open to new members

Other changes include transitioning from the Saturday/Sunday model of rehearsal camps to the standard Friday evening/Saturday/Sunday afternoon model used by most World Class corps, as well as the expansion of our tour. While it’s still very early on to be saying which shows we will be attending, we anticipate returning to the Southwestern Championship as well as adding an appearance at Drums Along the Rockies. We hope to also add performances between these two big shows, and to continue developing local performance opportunities such as Arsenal in the Plaza.

What’s Not Going To Change

Although we’re going to be working hard to grow our numbers and add new sections, our commitment to providing a world class experience in a friendly, safe environment will remain constant. We will still be providing meals and housing at camps and during tour, and although we will be modifying our SoundSport uniform, members will still get to keep it at the end of the season. Members who fly in for camps can still count on Arsenal to provide transportation from the Airport and we will again be providing housing for out-of-town members during move-ins.

We are very excited for the 2018 season, and are underway planning our schedule of clinics, auditions, and other events. To stay up to date with Arsenal we encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you are a student interested in auditioning for the 2018 season, join our Facebook Interest Group to ensure that you receive updates regarding audition materials and dates!