Doherty Speaks About Drum Corps: Part 1

Freelance writer Stuart Rice interviews Gary Doherty, the former executive director of Drum Corps International’s OnQ Performance Education division, about his history and his opinions regarding the drum corps activity, changes at DCI and the future of music education.

Part 1 (in a three-part series): Introduction and the Status of OnQ

Stuart Rice: Please tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What is your educational experience?

Gary Doherty: I am from Texas. I have been an instrumental teacher for 29 years, having taught band and orchestra in the Houston area (Klein and Brenham Independent School Districts) and in West Texas (Midland and Odessa Independent School Districts)

SR: What were your perceptions of the drum corps activity at the time?

GD: I have had a positive attitude toward the activity since my first exposure to drum corps. I enjoy the creative buzz around the process, and anything that brings music into the lives of students and communities has my support. I am, probably, more of a “global” educator (rather than just limiting myself to the marching arts), in that I am committed to the artistic process and the place this has in the lives of human beings. So, the marching band and its “relatives” are a “part” of the focus of my mission: a powerful one, but still not the entire picture!

SR: What is your experience in drum corps? What got you involved?

GD: I did not hear about drum corps until I was in college. As I progressed through my undergraduate music education degree, I got involved with studying with several DCI legends through various workshops and “hanging out” with different instructors and designers. My first drum corps teachers were Mike Moxley and Marty Hurley, whom I met in a series of workshops at East Texas State University when Jim Keene was the band director there. As the band director at Midland High School, I brought a drum corps show to West Texas and served as the show coordinator until I moved to go to work with the DCI office in the summer of 2007. I served on the TEPAC (Tour Event Partner Advisory Committee) and was responsible for several sessions at the annual meeting of the DCI organization in January of 2007, 2006 and 2005.

SR: Please explain OnQ. How did you come to be involved in this effort?

GD: OnQ was the educational arm of Drum Corps International. I have a deep interest in youth arts organizations and felt I could contribute to the national effort by being involved in the DCI educational effort. I interviewed and was selected to head this division, as the executive director of OnQ Performance Education. DCI created the education division, OnQ, last summer after several years of discussion about the possibility of moving into the educational arena. The division was discontinued due to financial constraints on the organization.

SR: DCI’s Mission Statement says, “Drum Corps International is the promotional, educational, and service arm of the drum and bugle corps activity.” Was OnQ its first venture into the “educational arena”? If so, why did it take so long?

GD: OnQ was the first venture into the educational arena by Drum Corps International in a formal way. The only answer I can give to “why it took so long” is the same for any organization’s ventures: priorities. Until education becomes a priority, it cannot come to fruition.

SR: Is there a drum corps educational contingency on the horizon?

GD: Not to my knowledge.

SR: What challenges would DCI face if it abandons the educational objectives of its mission?

GD: Again, and this is just my opinion, IF, and I say, only IF, DCI abandons their educational objectives, then it has limited its vision and a tremendous opportunity for growth. Basing an organization on extrinsics is difficult to sustain. The significance and prognosis for the future success of any system (organization) is based on the intrinsic values it embraces. These provide the foundation for the mission, products, services and relationships the organization will need to flourish.

Note from the Editor: Recently, Halftime Magazine spoke to Sue Kuehnhold, acting liason of OnQ. According to Kuehnhold, the OnQ education division has not been discontinued; it is currently going through a restructuring to prepare for next year and the future. This past summer, DCI’s onQ hosted three National Drumming Camps in collaboration with Carolina Crown, Bluecoats and The Blue Devils as well as two drum major camps with Phantom Regiment. For more information, read “Not Your Ordinary Band Camp,” which discusses OnQ and other summer band camp programs.

Check back on July 22 for the second installment in this Q&A with Gary Doherty.

About the Author:

Stuart Rice is a veteran of 20 marching seasons, serving as a member, instructor and choreographer of marching in junior high, high school, college, drum corps, winter guard and professional settings. Rice’s marching research has been presented at the University of Rochester Visual and Cultural Studies Conference in 1994 and the American Sociological Association Collective Behavior and Social Movements Workshop at the University of California at Davis in 1998. His analysis of Drum Corps International World Championship Finalist drill is published extensively in Drum Corps World magazine. Rice holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Utah.

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