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!

Success in San Antonio

Arsenal was the first competitive ensemble to take the field at the Drum Corps International Southwestern Championship in San Antonio on July 22nd. Opening with a flamboyant trumpet solo rendition of our State song, ‘O Fair New Mexico’, Arsenal set the standard for SoundSport at the event, with DCI’s Dan Potter remarking “what a way to start off the day” as the corps headed off to the tunnel. A few hours later Arsenal returned to the field, this time accompanied by Horizon Drum and Bugle Corps and Bayou City Blues. The three SoundSport teams combined their brasslines to perform ‘Raise Your Voice’, the official Anthem of DCI’s SoundSport program.

Scores were announced shortly thereafter with Arsenal receiving Gold overall, as well as the highest overall score of the event, granting the corps the additional accolade of ‘Best of Show’. Of the three captions scored, Arsenal received Gold in the SoundSport equivalents of General Effect and Music, and received Silver in Visual for an overall rating of Gold. Following the announcement of scores, Arsenal’s battery took the field to perform in DrumLine Battle with Let Them Drum! a Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life through percussive experience.

Southwestern SoundSport teams bring the heat in San Antonio
Arsenal, Bayou City, and Horizon took the field to perform together at retreat.

After the equipment was loaded back onto the truck, members of Arsenal got the opportunity to go into the stands and watch the rest of the corps perform. For many of them, it was their first time ever watching a live drum corps show, let alone a major competition like the San Antonio Regional. Following the announcement of scores the corps boarded the bus to head back to Las Cruces for our end-of-season banquet and an emotional farewell to the 2017 season. Members and staff shared a few minutes before the corps was called to attention and dismissed one last time.

Overall, Arsenal had an amazing experience in San Antonio this season, and we cannot wait to return next year!

For more information, read the official DCI article here.