In the “Direct From” article in Halftime Magazine’s July/August 2019 issue, Scott Litzenberg, The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps director, and Vicki Ferrence Ray, executive director of parent organization Youth Education in the Arts!, answered questions about its year of change and growth.
Here are more questions and answers from Halftime Magazine’s interviews.
Halftime: What are some special traditions for The Cadets?
Litzenberg: We always sing the corps song before we go on the field each performance. It’s called “O Holy Name.”
Putting the corps above the individual is also a really big part of The Cadets and has been for years. You’re here to take care of each other more than you are to worry about your personal fame or glory, which is a hard thing. It’s a great thing for kids to learn as a life lesson. It’s been instilled upon this corps even since I marched.
When we’re in uniform, there are certain things you can and can’t do. One of them is you never go by yourself. You always have a second [person], what we call “your two.” … It’s something the kids take a lot of pride in.
Ferrence Ray: The corps song has provided a … connection across decades. It’s actually really powerful when the alumni get together and sing it with the current corps members, and you see all of the generations of Cadets—past and present—sing the corps song together.
Halftime: How has the corps evolved in the past 10 years? What stuck around, and what has changed?
Litzenberg: This corps has had a very strong tradition of having respect for things in the past and having a lot of pride. A lot of innovation that has happened in drum corps was because of what The Cadets have done over the years. We certainly want to maintain that, and one of the biggest areas we’re changing is the culture of how we go about going on tour, how we take care of our members, how we expect our members to respect other corps, things in the past they need to be aware of, so they can be more keenly aware of how they’re affecting and being a part of that history.
Ferrence Ray: For me, words that have been used over the decades to describe The Cadets in terms of values are excellence, tradition, and innovation. … All of those three things can be held in tension and balance.
Halftime: Why did YEA! discontinue the Cadets2 all-age corps, and how do you feel about that decision? Do you foresee Cadets2 coming back in the future?
Ferrence Ray: Last November, we had to do staff layoffs and discontinuation of Cadets 2 to realize some financial stability in the organization. The future is a long time, so never say never, but [we do not see Cadets2 returning] in the foreseeable future.
Litzenberg: The plan is for YEA to continue to grow programs and build our organization and Cadets2 was certainly part of that. We’re hoping that does return, and that we’re able to add other parts to our program.
Halftime: What advice do you have for other corps directors?
Litzenberg: Understand your organization, know the history of your organization, and make sure that when you’re making decisions, you’re making them based off what is best for your organization and not [based off] what everybody else is doing.
Ferrence Ray: Be welcoming and open and inclusive to as many people as possible. Build teams of people to get things done. … It’s definitely not about one person. It’s about teams of people working together to achieve excellence.
Halftime: What advice do you have for marching musicians?
Litzenberg: Find a place where you feel at home and [where] you’re being given an opportunity to enjoy this experience the way you would like to do it.
Ferrence Ray: I hope they learn that they’re capable of so much more than they ever thought possible. … It’s not all about the raw talent. It’s about taking that raw talent and really focusing it and practicing and rehearsing and working and doing the best you can.