Small Drum Corps Association has recipe for future success

by Chris Ferrara

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There are a lot of detailed steps needed to cook a gourmet meal from scratch, but it’s worth the effort because it sure tastes good when you eat it.

Although the Small Drum Corps Association cannot be compared to anything gourmet, we have been putting a detailed recipe together, organizing from an idea, then moving from scratch to where we can already see that the end result is going to be very palatable.
It has not been a smooth road and at times we have been met with some real challenges.

Jeff Williams, the Viscounts and Royal Airs Senior, along with myself and members of the Royal Airs would meet in the McDonalds think tank or in the quiet of the local library where at times our voices rang out with excitement when an issue appeared to be resolved.

Most of the administrative details now appear to be solved, although we know we will still find some situations that we had not considered. We assume those to be minor, however.
Our biggest challenge now is matching corps schedules with their available dates, along with                   communities and their festivals with local school district’s calendars. This part is a nightmare!

Recently we were working with a community for eight months. This meant phone calls to different committee members as well as attending their local meetings. We finally received their support. Getting support means that the community will provide SDCA with a two-hour slot to entertain during the festival. This means publicity in the festival program and community publications, radio, local television, newspapers, community event signs, etc. which, of course, equates to ticket sales.

Our next step was to rent the local school gymnasium where the arena show would take place. We were stunned to find out that there was an unscheduled regional band contest the weekend of the   community festival. We thought we had a major screw-up, so we revisited the school’s on-line calendar. The calendar showed the date open.

Now we have a caution added to our recipe. And that is, do not stir the mix with on-line                  information. That was frustrating to say the least.

At this point we are now attempting to fill this weekend with a show in a community without a festival. Our challenge will be to publicize this without the help of a festive atmosphere.

That dilemma brought us to another brainstorming opportunity. We needed to provide the host corps with a show promo sheet. Another step-by-step to make it easier for the host corps that would have effective promotional methods. We do not have marketing in our backgrounds so our brains really struggled with this one.

Thanks to help from Chris Wellner, director of the Monomonie, MI, Northernaires, we put together what appears to be a pretty good promotional package. Coincidentally, we had Rich Tessitore — too many drum corps credentials to list — come to us and volunteer his time. So with his talents we knew exactly where to put him. We developed the position of Director of Show Promotions. Timing was on our side.

We have taken some big steps since our first year. We had a recipe we developed ourselves. We used educated guessing to determine the ingredients to use and we had six participating corps perform in three shows as a taste test.

This year we found this meal to be ordered by nine other corps.

So this is what is now on the menu —

Our entree: we have a step-by-step sheet for the host corps on how to produce their show and a step-by-step sheet on how to promote their show. There is a detailed sheet of what is expected of a performing corps. We have an SDCA specialist to assist in the show promotion. The main course will be 15 corps performing in eight shows.

What is the cost? The host corps does not pay up-front fees to SDCA. They only pay for the school they rent for the show. This has been an average of $100 per hour. The school is needed for a minimum of five hours. The host corps then will receive $2.00 for every ticket sold.

The hunger for this type of venue is getting larger and we intend on filling plates to the brim that will satisfy the drum corps hunger.

Thanks go to the countless number of volunteers that have come out to help us move forward and to fans who have supported this venture.

Check out our web site:, for additional shows and information.

Bon appetite!