June 13-14- The Sage Part 1 & 2, plus update
It would only make sense that the only real time I get to go on vacation and try to set things aside for a week, that something would have to ruin it. I guess it’s just not possible for me to be able to Simply leaveand not have some really stupid stuff irritating me to no end. I am not completely at ease with the brass band crap I am dealing with buy it was at a place I could deal with while I was away.
For the last year I have been helping out a former student and friend start a new drum and bugle corps. I was teaching the brass and I knew i would need some help with the times I could not be there. Jesse agreed to come on board and we made a solid co caption team. This project has been one of the worst experiences of my life, possibly, and certainly on the recent past.
I will start off with some of the positive things. Jesse and I work well together. We have done a lot in the past year with this and the youth band. I met and worked with some kids that are super cool and dedicated. It breaks my heart that they the real losers in this situation. Very little beyond this has been very positive.
Getting involved with this in the first place may have been my mistake. I think deep inside I kind of saw this going this way before it even started but I guess I wanted a challenge and to try something I have not done before. Being a part of something from the beginning and helping someone out were also a big part of it.
Things seemed to get started ok. The people on the staff seemed really into it and were willing to work together to e successful. Well, at least until the middle of October. This might be when the first signs of administrative incompetence came in to being. We haven’t even met yet but I was having trouble getting my brass staff together because the staff coordinator requested to vet all staff hires and then refused to even contact any of the people I wanted to bring on. This includes people who have years of experience and several rings from dci championship corps. Drew Dickey was the education Director and staff coordinator and maybe program coordiinator as well. In those positions, he did virtually nothing. He did not line up staff, he did not do hardly anything that needed to be done going into the first camp. I was scrambling to get people to work sectionals for the first camp that week. The only thing he did do was express his dislike for one of the trumpet techs I wanted to bring in. I was pissed, but went along as a team player. Drew did manage to put together an entire brass fundamental book, which later he demanded that I use. more on that later.
The biggest issue with Platinum was communication. There was little to no communication before the first camp or in between So much was done in secret. Most troubling before the first camp was that no one knew how many kids were coming to the first camp. When kids were registering through the website, they were not contacted in a timely manner, nor were they given clear instructions about what was going on and what they needed to do. This cost us I don’t know how many potential members. Whoever was supposed to be on the one dropped the ball. There was vitually no information that went out before the second camp and the percussion caption head stopped showing up then, but was not released until two months later. The percussion thing was a disaster, but it was not as bad as the brass issues that happened at the February and March camps.
Drew was making changes to the show seemingly every week, and was doing nothing else for his job duties. I still had no brass staff and he refused to contact anyone I was interested in. It became obvious why. Drew never showed up to another camp. He did send an e-mail to me, which was only the third e-mail I got from the guy, ordering me to use his brass fundamental exercises, telling me I couldn’t use the ones I wanted, and letting me know that because I never marched drum corps, I did not know how to teach. He never said this to my face, but did through email. Of course I replied that I will use whatever exercises I wish and he can go to hell. Since he stopped coming to camps, Drew sent his lackey, Scott Parker (visual captionhead) to report back to him what a terrible job the brass team was doing. Scott sat in the first brass rehearsal with a note pad and wrote chronological notes with every detail. 7:05- heating unit came on, talked louder. etc. They claimed this was to give constructive criticism to us at a later date, but I know better. Besides the fact that thier impression of where the real educating skills lied were scewed. The kids were getting fine instruction. I have more experience teaching hornlines that both Scott and Drew put together, and I have seen videos of Drew’s band, which is terrible… so I did not need any advice from them (oh yeah, Scott is still in college). I have it handled.
After the next camp Scott decided to send an email telling me everything I was doing wrong. Well, Jesse, too. Jesse responded to Scott first and called him out, so they were already in a heated email exchange by the time I could respond. I was sick of the crap by this point. The lack of respect shown to me from these guys was beyond unprofessional. Neither of these guys can produce a resume any where close to what I have, and have accomplished virtually nothing in the music world. My response was to shut the hell up and stay in your caption. There is no team on the staff. Still no percusion staff showing up. Still no communication with students going on. We would show up to camp weekends and have NO IDEA who, or how many kids would be coming. All because someone would not reach out to the kids in between camps. This cost us players.
Jesse jumps in and takes over in the communication department. He spends hours contacting everyone who ever reached out to Platinum to see if they are in or out. Many said this was the first time anyone contacted them. Five months had passed since they registered. NO WONDER they were not coming to camp. Progress is being made with getting people to come and knowing who we had and what the numbers and instrumentation is. Perc caphead is a no show for March camp, not one note of show music written for them. Encouragement to can the guy and get someone new. In steps Nate, to an unbelievably bad situation. The percussion kids hated their techs, hated not having any music, hated not having a full battery or pit. nothing was going right and it is weird that the 8 or so were still coming. Nate pulls it together between camps and gets enough people together for the April camp.
The April camp is pretty important, aas the DCI evaluation was set for this camp. Here is the peak for the group. We have Jesse and myself with the brass, with some help from Chris and Jamie(Phantom alum and friends) for tech work, and Nate had Nanako and Jonathan for tech work with battery and pit. Nate brings in 6 kids to play int he pit and the hornline is up to 25 players or so. We get a ton done at that camp, including putting the the first half of the opener on the field. Wow, it looks like we are going to pull this off. Momentum is on our side…
… After the April evaluation camp, we are waiting to hear if we pass and become a DCI member corps, and we work to fill a couple holes, mainly in mellophone. It is worth mentoning that throught this experience, I have never met, or have seen so many people ignore e-mails, ignore phone calls and messages, and quit at the last second without any notice to anyone. Just not show up. The lack of communication was contagious and the lack of personal character and professionalism was at an all time low.
So, three weeks later we have word that we passed evaluation. Sweet news. We are one week from our next camp and we can really start to push forward. STOP. No we can’t. The administration forgot to book the facilities for the camp and they have to cancel it. No one seems to think this is a big problem, aside from Nate and myself. I thought we looked bad, and it killed our momentum, and will probably cost us people. It did. We lost nearly 15 kids, roughly half the corps at the last camp at the end of May. The hornline dropped to 15 kids and the battery barely had enogh to even teach. Nevertheless, we taught the kids and they worked their tails off, despite the disappointment, which was getting worse. We leaned the rest of the opener, and the drill to the ballad at that camp and were still in OK shape if we could fill in some holes.
The painful realizations are coming to the surface, that the administration is completely incompetent. The lack of communication is one part of it, and the facility issue was another. I won’t even go into the staff people that were no longer with us because they were completely incapable of doing anything right. Add to it the fact that the kids still had no idea what the summer touring schedule was going to be. Forget the fact that camps were scheduled without any consultation with the dtaff about their availability, and placed on holiday weekends making it impossible for everyone to be there. Finally we find out that our tour will be three dates in New England, and the bonehead administration only sends out an email telling everyone what the dates of the three shows were. No itinerary, no travel, no rehearsal plan. None of the staff were contacted to put input into a plan for going on tour. So, byt the time we got together at the last May camp, the kids had already asked ofr time off of work, made vacation plans and such, and the administration had planned for us to go to New England with NO REHEARSAL before we left. They wanted us to do a half day, the day of the show, in MA, after two weeks off. The fact that they even thought this was possible is amazing to me, but even more astounding was their reluctance to even understand my concerns with it when we discussed it at camp. I trid to make them understand that we needed at least one full day to review and clean before we left. That was a minimum. They refused to see it. I told them what they planned was IMPOSSIBLE, and that we would be running into each other out there, not to mention would sound terrible, and that was simply unacceptable. Now I am the butthole because this rehearsal day was going to make the admin have to work or something beyond the short route they were trying to take.
The meeting were this was discussed was very ugly. I was shocked that people whosupposedly all have the same goal in mind could not come together on this. I felt lke I was in the room by myself. Even the other caption people were not saying much. But the worst part was the Executive Director, Steve, would not say a damn word. He would not even stop looking at the freaking internet on his laptop. Zero leadership from up top. This sounds so petty, but this is were things are begining to go for us. Out on the field, everything was going great. In the admin room, everything was a disaster. The lack of leadership from the exec dir caused a ton of issues. So many things were missed, and the caption heads covered for it in rehearsals with great instruction.
So now we are down to 15 horns, and 7 percussion (no idea about guard, maybe 2) and DCI wont let us on the field with less than 30. Instructional time with kids at the camp was great, and they go home happy and looking forward to next camp. This week is when it crashed. Jesse is getting his confirmations about who is coming and who is not. We lose our lead baritone player to the navy (boot camp moved up or something), several others can not come to camp because it is graduation weekend. We are looking at about 12 kids total coming to the camp as of Monday. Jesse talks with Nate and Me about the situation, briefly (Nance and Zellmer don’t return Jesse calls) and we talk about if this is even possible, and should be talk about shutting down and looking at next year. Jesse talks to Steve and and very clearly lets him know that we will be at camp that weekend, and ,aybe we should consider not having this camp and discussing the future. ONLY DISCUSS, and never said we would not be there (well, I wasnt going too be there annyways becaue the camp was scheduled during my vacation, which would have been known if asked before it was thrown together).
Wednesday morning the Jesse, Nate, Nanako, Jonathan and myself were let go. Steve got the board of directors together for some reason and got rid of us. He obviously misrepresented us to his board, as they make it out like we requested be be let go, which could not be further from the truth. Here is the email we got:
How do you like that? Welcome to the world of hasty decision making. It is very confusing to me how the board came to this conclusion. Steve used to be a good friend, so it is very troubling that he would take this kind of action without even talking to me. Yes, that is correct, he never even called me to see what I was thinking. I am not sure what Steve said to his board, but it was nothing that Jesse said to Steve. We never requested to be let go. He even told Steve we would teach whoever showed up, but I fail to see how it is out of line to bring up that we should evaluate what we were doing acs we were still losing members when we didn’t have enough to compete in the first place. Everything we would have taught that weekend would have to be repeated and we had one camp left before we went out. it was getting desparate. To float the idea that we should look into it was prudent, and to be fired for it was amazingly disrespectful and hasty without knowing wxactly what we thought. It is a shame that Nancy and Zellmer didn’t get back to Jesse that day because they would be on the list be get fired as well. nanako and Jonathan actually never talked to Jesse. They were lumped in with the caption heads for some reason. Now I suspect there may have been other motives, or something else behind this move, but either way, it is a terrible thing to do.
Even more insulting is the cold way we were let go. We were all volunteering our time and services, and were plugging so many holes administratively so the kids didn’t know all that was not happening, that you would have thought we would have gotten more than this. Even more insulting is the demand to not talk to any of the remaining members and staff. And why would we want to do that? We were the ones building the relationships with these kdis so they liked coming to the corps. We WERE the corps to them. I have to shame in admitting this, but I did tell my students that I brought into the corps what happened. Although I did not tell them, or anyone to quit, I did tell them what happened and that I am no longer on the inside and able to keep an eye on things. If they asked me, I told them what happened. If they quit, Platinum deserved it.
And on top of that, they told the kids that we were NOT fired. Flat out lie!!!! I will not stand for that. The kids will know what happened. They WILL NOT be allowed to think we quit on them. We don’t do that. We worked our tails off, against many obstacles, to keep moving forward. We were going to the end. Telling them we quit on them damages our character, and we can not have that happen. That may be why I am writing this, aside from being able to go back and relive this crap years from now.
This is some stupid crap. I am ashamed at how this turned out. I am ashamed that I even got involved with such shady, unprofessional, disrespectful people with such low character. The lack of leadership and general incompetence, especially in the ability to make decisions, from the Executive Director, made this an unbearable expereince. The people he chose to help him pull off this project, for the most part, are the bottom dwellers of the world. Thankfully, they were gone before the April camp. The board was absent throughout the entire thing. I have never seen a non profit board so distant and unsupportive of the goals of the organization. They are nearly as responsible for this crap as the exec dir is. So kids, if you are going to start something, make sure you have strong leadership, smart and talented people to work with, and great communication (and maybe don’t get rid of the talent at the 11th hour).
I did meet some wonderful people and great students. I will save the positive stuff about them for another time, when I am not in the mood to talk crap about the people involved with platinum. The staff that did not get fired… you should have left, and not stood for what happened. I see very little chance of Platinum doing anythig but folding, which is probably a good thing at this point. Steve should start to think long and hard about why this thing failed. When he does, he should come the this conclusion… He shit on the very people that where making it happen.
I apologize to Jesse, Nate, Nanako and Jonathan. None of them would have been involved with this if it were not for me. I am so sorry I got you guys into this, and I hope you will forgive me, and allow me to make it up to you somehow, someday.
Steve, well, what can say… I do not think you could have handled this any worse than you did. I am so pissed at you, that I really do not know if I will ever be able to speak to you again. I never would have imagined you would have been so disrespectful to me. WTF???
So, after I left the organization, this is what comes down:
I am glad I was not there anymore, and now even more upset at the lies Mckeiver told. Everything he says in this news report is a lie, and it turns out that he never did get the board to fire the group of us. He made the whole thing up. Shady.
I am done with PLatinum. I sure hope you never let your kids get involved with that bunch.