Archive for November, 2011

MUSIC: The BOA Conundrum

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Sitting through a day of BOA shows is a mixed bag.  I love the excellence brought to the field, and seeing all the great band students working so hard at something I love.

The downside of a day at BOA is that many of the shows tend to look alike.  This seems to stem from the fact that many of the “up and coming” bands who compete at these shows are using the top bands as models when designing their show.  However, this can tend to reduce a show into a list of “required elements” that these designers think the judges are looking for.

While this allows the band to end up with a competitive show, it also tends to create a “sameness” to the groups.  It stands to reason that if they all have the same basic ingredients in their show, and often happening at a particular time, then the shows will tend to look the same to the audience.

So the challenge for designers, and those of us who want to help them, is to find a way to allow these groups to follow the models set by the most successful groups, and yet STILL put their own style or personality on the show.

When we talked with Michael Cesario recently on an episode of the Marching Roundtable podcast, he explained that the reason that DCI was so much more interesting this year is that the designers STARTED their design conversation with the idea of producing a show that was TRUE to THEIR own group’s style and personality.  Each drum corps has it’s own basic style and look and feel of show, and if the designers start with THIS foremost in their mind, then all decisions that follow will flow FROM this identity.  This keeps them from copying or ending up with a show that is the same as all others.  They will be, by their very nature and approach, unique to that group.

We need to find a way to translate this to the BOA arena.  Certainly many of the top bands have a style and identity that is their own, and we have come to expect a certain kind of music and visual package from them.  Of course, this often stems from the arrangers and drill designers who create the show with their own styles and talents.  But can only the very top groups have their own identity?

It seems that if EVERY band, no matter what level they are operating on, will make a commitment to a style and identity, even if just for this one year (and it changes year to year), then it should follow that the show they create–starting from this place—will have more personality and less “sameness” than others.

Now we just have to see if the judges can find a way to guide these groups toward excellence in performance and design while still allowing them to have an identity.

What do you think?  Can this be done?  Or is the activity just not set up to allow for more variety?  I’d love to hear your opinions.  THANKS! 

FITNESS: The Gym Right-of-Way

Friday, November 11th, 2011

When the gym gets crowded it can feel like you’re in traffic maneuvering around cars on the highway.  The huge muscle guy strides through like a Mack Truck with his 125 pound dumbbells, while the tiny female aerobics enthusiastic flits around the benches like a SmartCar.  Somehow in the middle of this traffic you have to make it from the rack to your bench with your 75 pound dumbbells, without running into anyone or dropping the weights on your foot.  Most of all you don’t want to waste your energy by exhausting yourself in route.

Enter one of the Golden Rules of the Gym.  Listen up, because this is worth its weight in gold!

“The person with the heaviest weights in his hands ALWAYS get the Right-of-Way.”

If we all follow this one simple rule, everything will go much smoother.  Many times in the gym I’ve finished a set and am heading back to the rack to put up my 25 pound dumbbells, and heading right toward me is a hoss carrying 90 pounders.  I immediately stop, back up, get OUT of the way, and motion for him to pass.  

Likewise, if I’ve done a great set with 80 pounders and I want to put them away as quickly as possible, I don’t want to stand and wait for someone to figure out where the 10 pound dumbbells go.  “Hey people, carrying some serious weight over here!”

It just makes perfect sense.  The person carrying the biggest load should always get the nod, and others should move to allow them to travel quickly and safely. 

Just like on the highway, if everyone is just watching out for themselves, then one bad move can slow down everyone for hours.  But if we all cooperate, then traffic flows nicely and we all get where we’re going.  So let that Semi on over and don’t cut him off, because he’s carrying the biggest load and can adjust the slowest.

Let the person with the most to carry have the right of way.  Follow this rule, and explain it to others, and we’ll all have a safe and cooperative workout!