Alumni Spotlight: Brooke Vissoc

Blue Knights Alum, Brooke Vissoc, from Tipp City, Ohio is attending Wright State University and is majoring in Music Education. She was recently accepted into the United States Army Band on Trumpet.

Brooke with Trumpet Legend, Doc Severinson

We took a few moments to ask her some questions:

What year did you march in the Blue Knights?

2017

What section?

Trumpet

Where did you attend high school?

Tippecanoe High School in Tipp City, Ohio.

Why did you choose to march with Blue Knights?

The Blue Knights were always so musical and that really struck my attention. When I heard the drum corps play “Fly to Paradise,” I knew I wanted to be a part of the group. It’s not about how loud you can play, it’s about how good you can play with a big sound.

What is your favorite drum corps memory?

When I moved in at spring training, I knew nobody. I laid my stuff down in a corner because I was kinda scared to sit next to other people I didn’t know yet. After 5 mins of sitting awkwardly by myself, I had quite a few trumpet players come up to me and ask, “Are you Brooke?” And I said, “Yeah. Who are you?” They told me they were trumpet vets and they asked me if I wanted to sit with them and get to know them and ask questions if I wanted too. Honestly that was the greatest feeling ever having people care for me and making sure I felt safe/welcomed. The family environment is what made me love the Blue  Knights more and more every day.

How did your experience with Blue Knights prepare you in your audition for the United States Army Band?

The Blue Knights brass staff made me think about how I play the horn. I’ve been used to playing with a lot of pressure which was just doing damage to my playing. I had a few one-on-one sessions with the trumpet tech, Danny, and he helped me quite a bit. Also, Brad would always have us play a low Bb as soft as we could so we could get our chops going for the day. I loved how the brass staff cared for us, especially with our chops. The way we practiced our music, I actually apply the same techniques to my college playing, especially when playing fast runs. Slow it down, and play it as soft as possible to start out. Right before my Army Band audition, I said to myself, “Remember that time when you played ‘Away’ for the last time, and you cried? That’s how much you love music. That’s how much you want this dream to come true.”

What are some the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?

To always be kind to one another. If someone is feeling down, bring them back up. Also, to be a great team leader. Last season I was all about running in my free time since we really never ran for PT. Some people would ask me, “Where did you go?” And I would say, “I went running.” They thought I was crazy! I’d always motivate people to be at their best no matter what. Whenever you have time to get better, use that time to get better, because you only have 85 days to do so.

What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights?

The worst thing you could possibly do is not audition. People will say, “Oh I’m too young” or, “I’m not good enough.” First of all, you never know until you try. Throw yourself out there. Show the staff who you are and that you’re capable of doing the impossible. I told myself I wasn’t good enough for DCI so I marched DCA in 2015. I did learn a lot from that experience just from marching on weekends. The following year, I went to Blue Stars scared out of my mind thinking I wasn’t good enough. But sure enough, I was good enough. I got contracted the first night of November camp. And look at me now a year after that. I marched with the Blue Knights AND I made the Army Band. If you have a dream in mind, do everything in your power to make it happen. It may not happen right away, but you’ll get there. Always have confidence in yourself.


∴ Want to be featured in a future Alumni Spotlight? Fill out the Alumni Update form here or email: Alumni@AscendPerformingArts.org

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Ken Adams

KEN ADAMS

Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold

MARK ARNOLD

Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor

SCOTT FACTOR

I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino

NEIL CORVINO

Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black

KATHY BLACK

Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin

BRYANT RANKIN

Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque

JANET ARCHIBEQUE

Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder

Rob BATCHELDER