Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Bigley
Name: Ryan Bigley
What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights?
I marched trumpet with the drum corps in 2004-2005, and mellophone with the Blue Knights Winter Brass from 2005-2007
Where did you attend high school?
Columbine High School in Littleton, CO
Education beyond high school?
I got a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and a Masters in Music Education from Adams State University in Alamosa, CO
What is your current occupation?
I currently teach band, orchestra, and guitar at Thornton High School in Thornton, CO. I also PA announce for the Rocky Mountain Vibes in Colorado Springs, as well as to the NJCAA JUCO World Series every Memorial Day weekend in Grand Junction, CO, having announced the 2018 and 2019 National Championship games. I also serve as the DJ for the Colorado Eagles hockey club in Loveland, CO.
Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights?
The Blue Knights always had a tradition of excellence, and it showed when I saw them for the first time at Drums Along The Rockies in 1999. From that show on, I knew that drum corps was going to be in my future. It took until the 2003 Drums Along The Rockies show to convince myself that it was time to audition, and I knew that I wanted to be part of my “hometown” corps, and be a part of that tradition of excellence.
What is your favorite drum corps memory?
Snapping my horn down at the end of the 2005 Finals performance at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. All I remember are the tears streaming down my face knowing I had just aged-out officially, now that the show was over. I also knew that I did not want to take my uniform off because I knew that I’d never get to wear it again. Probably a good thing I did, it probably smelled awful! Coming in a close second would be fulfilling a lifelong dream of being the PA Announcer at a drum corps show at the 2019 Drums Along The Rockies. Even though the show got rained out, it was the thrill of a lifetime!
How have the Blue Knights impacted your life?
I knew that I wanted to be a music educator long before I was in drum corps, and I knew that the experience would help me as I became a teacher. Being in the Blue Knights taught me all about discipline, hard work, adversity, teamwork, and passion for the marching arts. This is an activity that is incredibly special for all involved, something that is not easily explained. There’s just something about what you experience in drum corps that stays with you for a lifetime.
What are some of the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?
Something I learned very early on is how much of a family the Blue Knights were with each other, and even as a rookie, I was embraced and welcomed into the Blue Knights family. It was in Blue Knights that I truly learned that regardless of how many years of experience you had with the corps, you had to perform like you were the most seasoned veteran. There is no second string, or “rookie team” in drum corps. Everybody’s on the varsity team, and you had to perform like it. It was my rookie year that the Blue Knights had seen the most adversity (three straight years of missing out on DCI finals), and it became very apparent that with DCI Finals being in Denver, the Blue Knights had to be in DCI Finals, so every member was important in reaching that goal.
What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights?
Give them every reason to pick you! Come with a winning attitude, an open mind, and a willingness to give your absolute best. I tell my students all the time that I will take someone with the most amazing attitude over someone who has the best skills, but a poor attitude. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t make it after the first audition camp. Find ways to improve, and keep open communication with the staff and other members you meet because you never know when you might get a callback! And just be yourself! Everyone has some sort of unique skill they can bring to the drum corps activity. Above all, don’t be afraid to perform!
How would you like to see other Blue Knight alumni get involved in the organization?
Life as age-outs can be pretty daunting, and it’s incredibly difficult to get involved with an activity that is constantly in motion. I think for drum corps to continue to thrive and for the Blue Knights to continue to be a stand-out organization, it needs the support from alumni all over the globe. Even if you can only commit a day or a few dollars, every little bit helps. This activity has given so much to so many of us, we would not be where we are without the support of alumni that marched before us. Yes, it can be hard to make any kind of commitment. But any commitment is better than no commitment!
Did you perform in the 2018 Alumni Corps and what was your favorite memory from our 60th Anniversary of the corps and the 25th Anniversary of BKPE?
I did get to perform with the 2018 Alumni Corps! It’s quite an interesting story. Before I had committed to the Alumni Corps, I had scheduled a Band Camp for my students in the days leading up to Drums Along the Rockies hoping that we could conclude our camp with a trip to (what was then called) Sports Authority Field. What I didn’t realize is that by scheduling that camp, I would, unfortunately, miss out on a majority of rehearsals. I still wanted to be a part of the ceremony, so I did what any good musician would do and practiced non-stop to have the music memorized, and had the support of wonderful section mates that helped me get all caught up just in time for the performance! It was so wonderful seeing so many of my old friends and meeting many new ones. I can’t wait for the next one!
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