Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps
Mark Arnold – Executive Director
Jordan Helwerda – Assistant Director
Abel Cabrera – Tour Director
Ethan Goddard – Operations Director
Laura Achilles – Volunteer Coordinator
*View staff announcement here!
Kevin Shah – Creative Director – Percussion Composer/Arranger
Mike Jackson – Music Coordinator – Percussion Composer/Arranger
Jay Murphy – Visual Director
Jay Bocook – Brass Composer/Arranger
James Gow – Drill Designer
Jaycee Wilson – Colorguard Designer
Chad Heiny – Program Coordinator / Ensemble Coordinator
Tommy Keenum – Program Consultant / Costuming
Tony Nuñez – Design Consultant
*View staff announcement here!
Veronica Wicks – Percussion Caption Head / Staff Coordinator (email)
Phil Idell – Front Ensemble Caption Manager (email)
Brandon Amaral – Front Ensemble Instructor
Vanessa Santiago – Front Ensemble Instructor
Taha Ahmed – Snare Instructor
Brandon Hussey – Snare Instructor
Thomas Claesen – Tenor Instructor
Justin Carpenter – Tenor Instructor
Matt Gonzalez – Bass Instructor
Steven Herman – Bass Instructor
*View staff announcement here!
Keith Tye – Brass Caption Head (contact Ken Adams – Recruiting Coordinator here)
Kyler Allenson – Brass Instructor
Kenton Wallis – Brass Instructor
Jacob Rodriguez – Brass Instructor
Oscar Ban – Brass Instructor
Nicholas Skinner – Brass Instructor
Cameron Prill – Brass Instructor
Charlie Mercier – Brass Instructor
Evan Woods – Brass Instructor
Matt Urbanak – Brass Instructor
Andy Tye – Brass Consultant
Jaycee Wilson – Colorguard Caption Head (email)
Lauryn Heller – Color Guard Instructor
Austin Katona – Color Guard Instructor
Jacob Tortorete – Color Guard Instructor
Chance Webb – Color Guard Instructor
Pete Marquez-Johnson – Color Guard Instructor
Emily Yraceburu – Color Guard Instructor
Shavon Garcia -Choreographer
Zak Stillwell – Visual Caption Head (email)
Phillip Michanowicz – Visual Instructor
Nicholas Robusto – Visual Instructor
Marcelino Nambo – Visual Instructor
Gary Briggs – Visual Instructor
Jon Popham – Visual Instructor
Matt Osborn – Visual Instructor
Austin Green – Visual Instructor
Ken Karlin – Visual Consultant
Frequently Asked Questions
BKXperience Clinics are located in different areas of the country to make it easier for you to try out without having to purchase a plane ticket and other travel expenses. During the BKXperience Clinic, you will meet and learn from the world-class Blue Knights instructional staff and receive feedback on your marching and playing abilities. You will find out whether you would be a good candidate to audition in November and as a call back in Denver in December. Members who are chosen for the drum corps will be required to attend subsequent winter camps in Denver, Colorado. Guard members chosen for the corps will not be required to attend another camp until April. The reality is that you will never know unless you try. You can maximize your chances by attending both audition camps, showing self-confidence and a desire to learn, and demonstrating that you can fulfill the membership criteria.
While most people who march for the Blue Knights are between 15 to 21 years old, we recommend anyone interested at any age come to the BKXperience Clinics or Camps to learn more about what is expected. It is also a chance to see how the Blue Knights operate as well as a chance for the Blue Knights staff to get to know you. Being a Blue Knight is more than just being a certain age–it is about your level of commitment, physical health, maturity, and attitude.
We hold 3-day weekend BKXperience-Audition! Camps in November and December in Denver and several 1-day BKXperience-Audition! Clinics at locations outside of Colorado.
Staff will evaluate potential members individually and in group rehearsal settings. All returning members are required to re-audition with new auditionees so that equal consideration may be given. Selection of our membership is based upon an individual’s talent, attendance, attitude, physical health, and ability to pay fees.
BRASS: For Brass, all listed auditions are part of a two-step process. The November and December BKXperience clinics are designed to introduce you to the drum corps as well as to allow you the opportunity to audition for the drum corps. It is highly recommended (although not mandatory) that prospects attend more than one of the clinics and camps offered in November and December to increase your exposure to our instructors and materials. Several contracts for membership will be awarded at our Denver December clinic and auditions for remaining spots will continue into January. Brass members accepted should plan on attending training camps in January, February, March and April.
PERCUSSION: All audition/BKXperience clinics in November and December are designed to introduce you to the Blue Knights as well as to allow you the opportunity to audition for the drum line. Although not mandatory, it is recommended that prospects attend more than one clinic to increase your exposure to our instructors and materials. Prospective percussion members MUST attend at least ONE audition/experience camp in November or December (no videos unless overseas) to receive a callback for final auditions. FINAL audition callbacks will be held in January.
NOTE: Percussion does not have training camps in February and March but contracted members are expected to return for April camp. This allows percussionists to participate in Winter Guard International events.
COLOR GUARD: Color Guard auditions will follow a two-step process. The November clinic is considered round one and the December clinic round two. In December, if accepted, you will be offered a contract to participate in the drum corps. The Blue Knights encourage all members of the Color Guard to participate in the Winter Guard activity and therefore Blue Knights guard members will not return until the April training camp. If accepted, color guard members are expected to fulfill all homework assignments and financial commitments to the drum corps including making scheduled tuition payments.
DRUM MAJOR: Anyone looking to audition for Blue Knights Drum Major or who just wants to gain experience going through the process should plan on attending both the Denver November and December Camps. The BKXperience 3-Day Camp in Denver in November is open to anyone interested. Participants will work closely with current Blue Knights Drum Majors, learn and practice conducting techniques, share leadership experiences, and conduct the Blue Knights during the “show & tell” at the conclusion of the weekend. All drum major participants will receive feedback. Those interested in auditioning for Drum Major will also go through an interview with the Blue Knights staff. Those candidates who perform well will be invited back to the December 3-Day Camp in Denver for the final round of selection as a Blue Knights Drum Major.
NOTE: Drum Major auditions in November are held in Denver and not typically at 1-Day Clinics.
Yes! Anyone looking to audition for Blue Knights Drum Major or who just wants to gain experience going through the process should plan on attending both the Denver November and December Camps. The BKXperience 3-Day Camp in Denver in November is open to anyone interested. Participants will work closely with current Blue Knights Drum Majors, learn and practice conducting techniques, share leadership experiences, and conduct the Blue Knights during the “show & tell” at the conclusion of the weekend. All drum major participants will receive feedback. Those interested in auditioning for Drum Major will also go through an interview with the Blue Knights staff. Those candidates who perform well will be invited back to the December 3-Day Camp in Denver for the final round of selection as a Blue Knights Drum Major. NOTE: Drum Major auditions in November are held in Denver and not typically at 1-Day Clinics.
Questions? Contact the Assistant Director, Jordan at Jordan.Helwerda@AscendPerformingArts.org.
All positions to include the drum major are open. Everyone is required to re-audition every year…
Yes! We highly recommend you register online and pay your fees in advance of your arrival at our camps to save additional fees, however, we are prepared to accept your fees and paperwork when you arrive. There will be a check-in table for preregistered auditionees as well as one to pay fees upon arrival.
Visit the online registration here!
We do ask that you bring your own equipment if you can because of the number of people that will be auditioning. Brass players should bring an appropriate instrument if possible (or at least their mouthpiece). Percussionists do NOT need to bring a drum, just sticks or mallets and a drum pad. Potential color guard members should bring their own weapon (saber or rifle). We supply you with the all the equipment you’ll need once you are a member. Please contact us if you are unsure.
Parents are welcome to spend the weekend with the drum corps if they are willing to pitch in and help our volunteers out cooking meals or working on equipment. Parents should use the camp volunteer signup on our Current Volunteer Requests page. Rehearsals are also open to parents to observe at any time if it does not interfere with the activity. There will be a welcome meeting at the beginning of each camp followed by a parent meeting. We usually have a show-and-tell performance on Sunday afternoons for parents to see what has been rehearsed during the weekend.
Aside from your rehearsal gear and paying your Admin Fee and Camp Fee, you should have a sleeping bag, toiletries, water jug and anything else you will need for an overnight stay. Your camp fee will cover all of your meals during the weekend (Friday: snack, Saturday: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and Sunday: breakfast, lunch). We will have showers available at the location as well:
BRASS: You will need a three ring binder with plastic page protectors, two pencils, your own mouthpiece, a pair of gloves for playing a corps horn, water jug and tennis shoes/clothing that permit movement (leave your jeans at home). Also, bring a black towel proportionate to the size of your horn for when we set the instruments down on the ground. If possible, you should bring your own horn for audition camps as we only have a limited number of corps instruments available. For all auditions, you may play on your concert horn (Trombone, French Horn, C-Tuba, etc.). If you opt to play your audition on your concert horn, you will be asked to play something on a corps instrument during your audition just to see how smoothly the transition will be.
PERCUSSION: Sticks and/or mallets, water jug and tennis shoes/clothing that permit movement (leave your jeans at home). Percussion instruments will be provided–you do NOT need to bring your own drum.
COLOR GUARD: Leather/fingerless gloves, water jug and tennis shoes/clothing that permit movement (leave your jeans at home at least bring their own weapon (if possible). We will provide flags.
Click here to download packing list.
Questions? Contact Info@AscendPerformingArts.org
Since the BKXperience 1-Day Clinics are only part of one day, less is required to participate.
In addition to your rehearsal gear and paying your Admin Fee and Camp Fee, you should bring a wire music stand (if you have one), water jug, mouthpiece(s) and/or instrument for brass, sticks/mallets for percussion, cloth gloves for brass, leather/fingerless gloves for guard, sneakers, clinic fee. We will provide percussion equipment, flags and we have limited weapons. Percussion does NOT need to bring a drum (just sticks/mallets). Color Guard members should at least bring their own weapon (saber or rifle).
Most importantly, show up! Each year, many potential members who could have made the corps cut themselves by giving up after just one camp or even before the first camp. Work hard, practice, have a positive attitude, and have fun.
Yes, we may consider video auditions on a case-by-case basis. Although attending one of our November Audition events certainly gives us the best opportunity to evaluate your talents, you may submit a video audition under certain circumstances.
If accepted for video audition, caption heads will provide a link with instructions on how to register, pay the Video Admin Fee, perform all required material on video, and send your video link to your respective Caption Head (please do not send actual video files).
NOTE: No spot will be fully guaranteed until you have either attended a Denver Camp and have been evaluated by staff in person. Please contact your respective Caption Head to see if this is the best option for you.
BRASS: Videos auditions for Brass will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, those wanting to earn a spot in the Blue Knights horn line must plan on attending the December camp. BRASS: BKDBC.Brass@AscendPerformingArts.org
PERCUSSION: To assure all prospective members receive a fair evaluation, Video Auditions for percussion will only be accepted if you are an international student. However, it must be understood that no positions in the percussion section will be awarded to international students unless they are invited to, and attend, the January camp. PERCUSSION: BKDBC.Percussion@AscendPerformingArts.org
COLOR GUARD: Video Auditions for Color Guard will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, those wanting to earn a spot in the Blue Knights color guard must plan on attending the December camp. COLOR GUARD: BKDBC.ColorGuard@AscendPerformingArts.org
DRUM MAJOR: There are no video auditions for Drum Major.
Deadline for all Video Auditions: November 1st (although a caption head MAY consider video auditions AFTER the deadline on a case-by-case basis).
Please notify us of your flight arrangements at least one week in advance (but no later than Wednesday of the camp) by filling out this online form with your travel itinerary. We will pick you up from the airport and bring you to the camp.
- All flights should be scheduled to arrive in Denver before 6:00 pm on Friday.
- All return flights (out of Denver) should be scheduled after 6:30 pm to allow time to arrive at the airport.
- For November through April camps, if your flight does not arrive before 6:00 pm on Friday, or depart after 6:30 pm on Sunday, you may be asked to pay for a commercial shuttle bus.
- When the Blue Knights will provide SCHEDULED transportation to and from the airport. Proceed from baggage claim to DOOR 404 on the passenger pick-up level of the West Terminal.
- For bus station pick-up, please let us know when you will arrive and which bus station.
- Please send us your flight information as soon as you know it so we have time to plan. You must complete the online form no later than one week prior to your arrival. NOTE: Transportation requests made after the Wednesday deadline cannot guarantee that we will be able to pick you up. Shuttle transportation is only available for Denver camps.
- Call 303-777-1937 and press “1” for camp location and changes due to inclement weather or check our Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps Facebook page.
- For any special needs or questions regarding travel, please contact us (email: Info@AscendPerformingArts.org or call (303) 777-1937).
You should try to eat before any camp on Friday. However, there are usually snacks and drinks set out after a camp begins.
Your caption head will determine policy for instrument/equipment check out once you have paid your $250 Contract Acceptance Fee.
The Member Tuition cost to march Blue Knights in 2019 is $4,100. Tuition covers the full cost of participation in the drum corps, including spring training housing and meals, tour meals and transportation, instruction, equipment, uniforms, shoes, logistics, and administrative support. Does not include Brass Fee ($150). Limited additional expenses may be incurred. Contact our office for questions with fees (email).
Admin Fee: The one-time Administrative Fee is $55 and required for all those who attend any of our BKXperience clinics or $95 Video Fee for those who send in an audition video. All 1-day clinics officially count as Round One in the audition process. Candidates must, however, attend a 3-day Camp in Denver to be offered an official spot for 2019. A $55 ONE-TIME admin fee will be charged for ALL participants attending a Denver Camp the first time. This is a ONE TIME separate fee in addition to the Camp or Clinic Fee.
BKXperience 1-Day clinic fees are $50 (Early Bird), $75 7-days before the clinic and $100 at the door.
BKXperience 3-Day clinic fees are $75 (Early Bird), $100 7-days before the clinic and $125 at the door.
- ALL payments must be received by June 1st.
- EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: If all of your fees are paid by February 28, 2019, you can deduct $150.
- The one-time Admin Fee is due when you register for your first BKXperience-Audition! Clinic or send in your video audition (in addition to your Clinic Fee).
- Returning members receive a tuition discount for each year marched.
DID YOU KNOW? Tuition paid by members accounts for less than 45% of the actual expense of the drum corps experience! All members are expected to participate in one fundraising project for the drum corps. For complete information please see the membership manual.
Yes, there are a variety of ways to reduce your membership fees. Financial Assistance/Scholarships and sponsorships are available and are based upon need. This assistance can easily add up to $500 or more. Also, there will be an “Early Bird” discount for those who pay full tuition prior to February 28th. Please see additional information and policies in the Membership Contract (which will be provided once you are accepted into the Blue Knights as a member).
The nametag is your proof that you are a part of the Blue Knights and helps us in providing security in the building. Since we rehearse in a public school, it helps us identify those people who should be there and those who should not. It also helps instructors and other participants identify you by name and section. The nametag is your ticket to meals. If you do not have it, you will be asked to get it or pay your fees before you eat. Lost or misplaced nametags will be replaced for a $5.00 fee. No receipts for registration will be accepted as substitutes.
We expect you to go to your graduation ceremonies and formal events. However, as soon as those are completed we expect you to fulfill your commitment to the Blue Knights and return to the drum corps. Taking days away from rehearsal to attend senior graduation parties with friends and family is not acceptable. We ask that you limit the time away from rehearsal as much as absolutely possible. Your caption heads can help guide you through this.
About a week before finals, each member will be asked to put their name on one of two lists. Each list is basically how they are leaving tour after finals full retreat on Saturday (after all equipment and things are packed up and ready for transport). Expect people to start going their separate ways about midnight after DCI Finals is completed. Luggage will be separated by travel choice when leaving housing for finals.
The two options are:
1) Departing directly from the parking lot. This could be family or friends picking up or even the member’s self-reliance to their next destination.
2) Flying from Indy on Sunday (and need a bus to the airport). All airport people will load up and be taken directly to the airport. Typically people will find a space to curl up for the night inside the terminal along with several hundred other drum corps folks doing the same thing. Everyone needs to be self sufficient in terms of purchasing meals and ticketing and check in and such.
We strive to bring the best people we can into the Blue Knights. We want your experience with the Blue Knights to be as educational and enjoyable as possible. If you are new to the drum corps experience, this may seem overwhelming, and it can be. Keep in mind that many thousands of individuals have successfully faced these challenges before you and found it to be one of the most rewarding times of their lives. Don’t be afraid to try!
As a member of the Blue Knights, you are making a commitment to your own development, and to the drum corps team. Your acceptance into the corps is the start of one of the most challenging and satisfying experiences of your life.
1. Attitude: You will need to maintain a positive attitude in challenging circumstances. The hours are long and the work is hard. You will be asked to do things that you’ve never done and work harder than you probably ever have. Your ability to stay positive and focused will help you and those around you meet the challenges you’ll face.
2. Attendance: You will be expected to attend all winter/spring camps required of your section. When you attend a Blue Knights audition experience event, you should discuss with the staff any known events that conflict with camp dates. If you have a critical family or school conflict with a camp, notify your caption head(s), as well as the corps management as soon as you become aware of the issue. If we don’t hear from you, we consider the absence unexcused, which could negatively impact your membership status. You will need to clear your calendar of all conflicts.
3. Financial Responsibility: Demonstrate willingness and ability to fulfill the financial commitment as described in the audition information packet made in a timely manner. Sponsorship and scholarships are available as well as tools to help raise money to help pay for your tuition fees. More information on this will be provided soon to contracted members.
4. Performing Ability: The instructional staff will evaluate your abilities on your instrument/equipment, music and marching technique, your development and progress over a period of time based on specific criteria as outlined in the audition material.
5. Health: You must be physically, mentally and emotionally able to withstand the rigorous requirements of practices, performances, and travel. A complete health history and sports physical are required. If you have any doubts about this program, please discuss your concerns with corps management and medical staff.
Yes. Every Blue Knight will get a medical physical accomplished for the Blue Knights BEFORE move-ins for All Days training. If it has already been accomplished recently, Blue Knights do NOT need to do it again!
Complete pages 1 & 2 and your doctor will complete page 3. Bring to All Days!
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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