Ascend Education

Join the BKXperience


Experience the marching arts at the highest level and learn what it takes to be a Blue Knight. Start on your path to joining one of our three ensembles, or come for the experience: the choice is yours.


Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps


Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble


Blue Knights Winds


Take the next step in your marching education and perform at an Ascend event like Drums Along the Rockies or Corps Encore. Learn at a 1-day clinic from Ascend’s premier educational staff.

Elevate Life Performance


Ascend offers personalized and specialized clinics for your band, music program, or performing arts organization.


Seminars for band directors, music educators, and college students. Inspire, inform, and share ideas from the cutting edge of the marching arts.


Ascend holds multiple events across the Rocky Mountain west each year.

A unique marching band competition in Colorado that allows bands to compete with similarly sized units, not based on school classification.

Ascend partners with experienced adjudicators to bring their wealth of knowledge straight to you as part of the Friendship Cup clinic series.

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The goal of the Ascend Education Program is to Promote & Support the performing arts through initiatives such as BKXperience Clinics, Spark! Ideas Conferences, and other music education initiatives:

    • The BKXperience-Audition! Clinic is typically in the fall and allows student of a variety of performance levels to learn from the some of the best educators in the marching arts activity while experiencing what it is like to go through an audition experience with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps or Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble. A number of participants join the drum corps or percussion ensemble as a result of these BKXperience events. However, everyone who participates gains improved skills, increased self-confidence, and make new friends.  
    • The Mile High Drum & Percussion Festival is a partnership between Ascend Performing Arts and the Denver Young Artist Orchestra. It is designed to create a unique opportunity for young percussionists in the Denver area to experience a variety of percussion styles from jazz to marching drum line to the orchestra and everything in between. This event brings together artists, educators, vendors, and students for a day of workshops, performances that will expose students to the opportunities and styles that are available to them.  
    • The Mile High Guard Festival is a partnership between Ascend Performing Arts and the Rocky Mountain Color Guard Association, that is designed to create a unique opportunity for color guard performers and instructors of all skill levels in the Denver area to experience a variety of color guard styles, instructional techniques and show design ideas. This event brings together artists, educators, vendors, and students in a non-competitive environment for a day of workshops, performances that will expose students to the opportunities and styles that are available to them.  
    • The BKXperience-Perform! Clinic is typically in the summer and are clinics invite high school and college marching band students to learn the methods and techniques taught by the best in the marching arts activity. Sessions include marching fundamentals, ensemble technique, music instruction, performance techniques. Select events (such as Inside the Blue Knights) may even allow participants to perform alongside the Blue Knights members at the end of the clinic event.   
    • The Spark! An Ideas Conference is a seminar for band directors, music educators, and college music students. Spark! is a proactive ideas conference to inspire, inform and share with participants and nationally recognized presenters. Sessions include both music and visual technique, fundraising ideas, and networking opportunities.
    • The Ascend Music Education Program is part of Ascend Performing Arts’ educational outreach in grade school, middle school and high schools in the Denver-metro area and is designed to inspire and engage young people in the arts for life. Students will interact with the Ascend. Performing Arts’ performers through performances, clinics and jam sessions.
  Click on the graphics below to learn more:

BKXperience-Audition! Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps Clinic 


BKXperience-Perform! Clinic at Corps Encore

BKXperience-Perform! Clinic at Drums Along the Rockies

*Also, watch for these exciting opportunities on on our Facebook page!

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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


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


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


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


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


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


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