Crossmen on the move

by Scott Wolfe, DCW staff

Beginning in the fall, a lot of sound came from San Antonio, TX, with news of new (and some returning) staff members for the Crossmen. The new visual caption head is Terry Pritchard.

I was able to sit down and talk with Terry and get to know more about him, his background, his current drum corps activity and plans for the year.

Terry has a well-rounded background on his performance resumé as well as several stops along the way with some very good ensembles in a teaching role.

“I went to a small high school in West Tennessee, Elizabethton. The band program there was terrific. There was a huge drum corps influence. All of our instructors had drum corps experience and four out of the five tubas that were in the same section for four years marched drum corps.

“I was fortunate enough to march in the Star of Indiana under the greatest instructors in the activity. That is the reason that I went to Star. I went to play in Donnie’s (Van Doren) horn line, play Jimmer’s (James Prime, Jr.) horn book and march George’s (Zingali) drill. I aged out of the corps in 1991 and was honored to help out visually in 1993.

“I went to the Spirit of Atlanta in 1994 to help rebuild the corps that missed a summer of competition. I was the visual caption head for a few years. I was also the visual co-caption head at Carolina Crown when the corps first broke into finals.

“After the 2000 season, I joined ‘BLAST!’ as the visual instructor and performer. I trained the North American touring cast and prepared them for their successful schedule. During this time,   I taught and designed for many WGI winter guards and indoor drum lines.”

I asked Terry about his plans for the Crossmen’s visual package this year and he got a glint in his eye and lit up! He is clearly excited about taking a corps that has been down a little over the last few years and bringing them to a state of high execution.

“The goal for the Crossmen is very simple. As the caption head, I want the corps to look great at all times and march well. The underlying reason for the corps moving well is    to give the corps a chance to play extremely well. Placement is a by-product of excellence and the one thing that we as instructors and performers cannot control.

“All we can do is prepare for the best performance every night. Everything else sorts itself out the way it should.”

We then talked about winter camps and recruitment from the fertile Texas band programs.

“The winter camps have been amazing. The corps has had a great influx of very talented Texas musicians. During the time of the experience camps, the corps had over 120 horn line auditionees and vets. The returning members seem very excited and eager to learn. The level   of determination to be good is very high.

“The staff is very excited at the work ethic of all the participants. The administration and instructional staff are some of the best I have ever been around. The corps is truly a family, which I think builds some of the highest feelings of loyalty not normally seen in youth these days.”

Last season Terry returned to drum corps after several years of inactivity. He was the program coordinator, brass caption head and visual coordinator for Vigilantes All-Age Drum and Bugle Corps of North Texas. He intends to continue some of those roles with the Vigilantes this summer, so I asked how he planned to balance the two organizations and working with two very different sets of performers.

“The balance between an all-age corps and a junior is quite tricky. Luckily our schedules through the winter and spring do not overlap and will allow me to attend all of the camps for each corps. Summer will prove to be a little more interesting.

Because of full-time commitments and my family, I will not be able to do a complete summer tour as I could when I was younger. I have hired a terrific staff at the Crossmen and they will handle the day-to-day tasks on the road. I will balance the remainder of rehearsals and big performance dates between the two corps. My roles for each corps is different.”

We then talked about his perceptions of the two different genres of junior and all-age drum corps. His perspective is quite interesting.

“Surprisingly enough, all-age and junior corps are more alike than they are different. Each corps will build strong musical and visual fundamental programs. Each will spend the winter months preparing for a successful summer and championships run. Each corps will ask more from its membership than even the members thought they could give. Excellence is expected by the staff from both groups. The biggest differences lie mainly in budget, time      and travel.”

We then talked about his approach to teaching the two different organizations and the different demographics of students.

“The approach to teaching an all-age corps is a bit more individualized than the junior corps counterpart. Instruction for the Crossmen will be geared more to making the individual become a part of the whole and can be directed at one single age group.

“Knowing that in a junior corps the membership will devote their entire existence for that time period, I can teach them in a more direct and intense fashion. But, when teaching an all-age corps, the approach will have to be varied to accommodate all of the age ranges and diverse lives.

“As an example, the membership of just the soprano section of the Vigilantes varied in age range from 15 all the way to over 60 years old. This was a huge range to try to teach. And then there is the idea that when members aren’t with the corps, they are devoted to their lives, families and work.

“As an instructor, I feel that I have to be even more aware of my teaching styles and be more sensitive to the members that are there as a weekend hobby versus the more serious, intense, passionate drum corps-heads. This is a co-existence for sure.”

And finally, we talked about what drum corps is and means to him.

“For me, drum corps is a passion. I have been very lucky and fortunate to have been around the activity for as long as I have and built amazing relationships with people who have made me into who I am today. I have performed with and taught some of the best ensembles in the world. I could never take for granted the people who have taught me or that I have worked with throughout that time.”

Terry is quite a ball of energy and a big fan of drum corps, in addition to being a student, performer and instructor of the activity. His knowledge of drum corps history is quite lengthy. If you get a chance to sit down and enjoy an adult beverage with Terry, he has plenty of good stories to share.

Terry Pritchard presently lives in North Texas with his wife, and beautiful and engaging (toddler) daughter. He’s very intense teaching and in his approach to doing drum corps.

But when the day is over, he’ll have a big smile and enjoy each and every member that contributes to the project.

If you have a chance to say hello to him on tour with the Crossmen or Vigilantes, don’t ask him about Star of Indiana. He absolutely “hates” that sort of attention (the man owns LOADS of pink and is still smiling over his performance with the Star Alumni group last summer.

He is quite the fan of laughing and sharing good stories. The Crossmen are in for a treat this summer!