An Interview With Howard Weinstein
February 12, 2016
Dubuque Colts Media recently had an opportunity to sit down with new Colts Program Coordinator Howard Weinstein to get some unique perspectives from the long-time DCI vet. Howard was corps director for the Boston Crusaders from 1999-2007 where he also coordinated the field show. In 2009, he joined the Blue Stars as their corps director and continued through the 2011 season. Enjoy this glimpse into what's ahead for the Colts.
DCM: So you had a few years on the outside of DCI looking in. Why was it the right time to get back involved?
HW: To be honest, I am not getting any younger. (smiling) I have been involved in the drum corps activity since 1983, first as a performer, then as an instructor, and then as a program coordinator and caption head, so I have been blessed to have been involved in the activity in some way, shape or form for a good part of my life. When I left the Blue Stars a few years ago, it was because I had to take some time to set my life up for my future. This was to set it up personally, professionally, and stabilize myself so that I could eventually retire. Now, I am at a place in my life where I felt I was able to get back involved, not at the level I was before, but in a way that I could again have an impact on an organization, and the activity, and this seemed to be the perfect time.
DCM: We assume there was more than one corps interested in having Howard Weinstein on their staff. How did you choose to work in Dubuque, Iowa?
HW: Since I have left the activity, I would make it a point to go to the Atlanta DCI Regional and watch each and every corps. Watching the Colts...the organization seemed like a drum corps that would align with my skills, talent and influence. My niche in the activity has been working with performance ensembles and helping them to progress forward both on and off the field, and I really felt that my involvement with the Colts had the potential to be a win-win, giving me a fantastic opportunity to work with the group to continue their legacy in the drum corps activity, and the Colts organization would be able to benefit from my years of leadership, design and accomplishment.
DCM: You've been with the group for a few months now. Have you found anything to be unique to the Colts organization?
HW: Well, as you know, the drum corps activity is a lot of the same from organization to organization. That is evident to me, with the Colts being my third legacy organization I have had the honor to work with. I think the biggest difference I have found with the Colts has been the fact that they have the Colt Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps within their organization, as well. I find it to be a tremendous positive for several reasons. For example, it's very special when you see members that are coming up into the Colts that have come through the younger group. It also gives us a place to recommend auditionees that are not quite ready for the World Class experience, where they can train, grow and become stronger performers.
DCM: The last corps you worked for was in La Crosse, Wisconsin the smallest market to sponsor a DCI World Class drum corps. Are there any special challenges or possibly advantages to working in the second smallest market...Dubuque?
HW: Absolutely, with both corps. The challenge is the limitation of travel in and out of a major metropolitan marketplace. My last organization shifted our winter program to the Indianapolis marketplace for this very reason. We still had everything else in La Crosse, but the move made it easier for members and staff to travel in and out. It also made it financially easier on the organization for wide range of reasons. The advantage of both groups being in a smaller market is the area being aware and supportive of the drum corps being in their community. This is a benefit for sponsorships and fundraisers throughout the year for the corps, as well as individual members.
DCM: Is there anything that makes programming the Colts show different from the other two groups you worked with? Or is a drum corps show pretty much the same regardless of the corps uniform, tradition or location?
HW: I am actually finding programming for the Colts extremely limitless. This is based on the history of the corps, and shows they have done in the past. Often, corps will be stuck in a realm of classical, or jazz, etc. I have not found this with the Colts. The uniform, history, and area give our design team an open landscape, where we can go in any direction both musically and visually.
DCM: You also program shows for a variety of high school bands, and currently work with the 2014 Bands of America Grand National Champion Tarpon Springs. Aside from no woodwinds, what is the biggest difference between programming for DCI vs. BOA?
HW: I think the biggest difference between designing for DCI verses BOA would be that the make-up of the audiences are different. Think about it, the BOA audiences, that are live in the stands, are about 75% parents of the students on the field, and other bands competing. This is somewhat of a captive audience, and allows the bands to take a great deal of risks, and move in a lot of directions, and for the most part, the audience is going to be pretty supportive. Don't get me wrong, as the General Effect sheets for both activities are written very similar, so we take a lot of the same approaches when it comes to creating effects and synchronizing the music to visual elements of the show. I think the big difference with DCI is maybe with the exception of finals week, the majority of the audience are strictly drum corps fans, and people that have marched in the past. This is especially true at Tour Event Partner shows. At the DCI Regional events, there are a lot of high school bands in attendance, but I think you see the difference of the average makeup of the viewers. For this reason, I feel there is a huge responsibility that the show truly connects with audiences from multiple generations. This has also been encouraged from the adjudication community, as the entertainment value is strongly considered when the group is judged.
DCM: Do you have a long-term vision for the Colts? Or are you just working to get the 2016 program put together, and not get wrapped up in the future?
HW: Currently, with it being my first year with the organization, my main focus has been on the 2016 field show, coordinating and leading the staff making sure that we are all working in a congruent fashion with aligned goals and aspirations, and implementing a student leadership program. Beyond that, I am working to get to know as many people as possible from this very special organization including alumni, board members, and the many volunteers and supporters that make this whole thing happen.
DCM: Last question...anything you would like to share about what we'll see from the Colts in 2016?
HW: Look for the 2016 Colts to be entertaining, audience-connecting, and endearing. The show will be elegant, sophisticated and moving. I think the DCI community will really like us.
DCM: Thank you, Howard! We certainly look forward to the years ahead.
For a sneak peek at the 2016 Colts program, CLICK HERE. The Colts recently completed the largest three-month camp turnout in their history as they begin to finalize membership for the 2016 drum corps.
There are still a few openings in the brass and percussion sections so if you, or a son or daughter you know, would like to get a first-hand look, make plans to attend their February 19-21, 2016 rehearsal weekend at Jefferson Middle School in Dubuque, Iowa. CLICK HERE for details.
The Colts Youth Organization sponsors the world-class Colts, the Colt Cadets, Pandemonium and PanrhythmiX steel drum ensembles, and the Colts Summer Band. Over 320 young people, from grade 3 through age 21, now participate in a Colts program in Dubuque, Iowa.
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