Impulse 2018: Recruitment – Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys

Always love an adventure!

FYI If you never use public transportation, plan a trip, and do it. Ideally, involve a train, light rail or otherwise. In that regard, the various Metro light rail lines cover huge amounts of distance, in very short time, for minimal cost. Your only real expense is a little planning time and a willingness to do some walking.

Saw a parent today I’ve not seen in well over a year. She was working the tournament today as a volunteer.  Her son was in the battery 2016. We talked briefly, she was very busy. Lovely, lovely woman. Miss her consistent communications. She is a great reminder of what youth activities are all about.

Giving students great opportunities to learn, grow, achieve and providing parents good consistent communications. 

Also met two 2017 vets tonight. Andy and Carlos. Andy’s dad was the contact that worked with Mrs Baba in getting the booth at today’s event. Both students seemed like great kids. Carlos and Trevor shared a few laughs πŸ˜€

Los Angeles Valley College was today’s recruitment opportunity. A somewhat different crowd than the prior 4 events. For those counting at home, Impulse has five more opportunities to do some recruitment in 2017 for the 2018 season:
Tuesday, November 7 West Covina HS (Thank you, Mrs Hetrick ❀)
Saturday, November 11 Savanna HS, at La Palma Stadium
Saturday November 18 Colony HS
LAUSD Championships (tentative)

December 29, 30 Rose Parade Band Spectacular (Thank you, Mrs Baba ❀)

Woot woot! 

In the morning, Mr Mac Tavish and I spent a few minutes planning who and where to send out 100 postcards announcing Impulse’s Open House. 100 turned into 238. I like how he rolls πŸ˜‚ He also suggested we follow up with another round of postcards for auditions. Depending on various factors, with varying degrees of importance, this could become an on going campaign. Much more to discuss on this topic.

One of the great things about doing the recruitment booths is getting to spend time with Mrs and Mr Baba. During each time we spend together, they each will share a new perspective on their love for Impulse, or new story about the joys and challenges of parenthood, or give me something for me to think about regarding myself; what I say, what I do, how I say what I say, I do what I do.

Martha suggested to me that I should start writing stuff down.


Specifically, a personal timeline regarding Impulse.

That is something I can start with Aaron, and he and I can present that to instructional staff for more discussion. We are still on track to get music submitted for copyright approval by early December, but lots more to schedule. Horn Line number cut off, or if we even want a cut off date, and if not what plan is in place for the alternative. Same for guard. Both critical to drill writing goals. Other show production goals, show instruction goals. Etc.

Had a long end of the recruitment chat with Trevor, 4 year vet during probably Impulse’s roughest stretch in our history; the roughest in many ways. He said something I’m going to think about a lot, and I believe he has said it before, that he and I are a lot alike. I think he even used stronger terms like, we’re the same kind of people.


I think people will agree and disagree with his statement. My opinion? I hope he’s right, and that others agree ☺

Matt Fawcette was at the show also, visited several times, and sat for a spell. He’s another vet (2010-2015), coming in, coming back to help. He suggested, and I followed through, with contacting another former vet/staff member.

She lives out of the area now. She returned my text right away and we exchanged several more. She’s going to make it down to the meeting November 19th. Not sure where we go from there, but there will be plenty for her and I to talk about.

Good, great actually, phone chat with Jen tonight. We talked show music ideas, in general, and timelines. I will be updating all design team by Thursday. I need to get more discussion with Aaron on more ideas with our staff communication formats, in general, and design team communication formats, and the ways we are moving forward with this process. As a group, we are definitely moving up on our learning curve.

Phone chat with Marti. She’s got a new uniform prototype she wants me to see. Plan is to meet with her and view the prototype on Monday.

Honestly, I still feel behind. To do list: Vet meeting agenda, equipment truck inventory, contact Burroughs high school director, other on campus recruitment this Wednesday, recruitment video progress, equipment needs for open house, alumni meeting agenda, director’s report to board, website, calendar, staff meeting agenda…

and, probably not remembering like six more things 😒

But…I’ll figure it out πŸ˜‚

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Impulse 2018: Emotional Commitment

(Something from my 2016 tour journal)
want to put my tender
Heart in a blender,
Watch it spin round to a beautiful oblivion.
Rendezvous, and I’m through with you. 

Happy, ☺, happy, ☺
Joy, πŸ˜‚ joy, πŸ˜‚

Last few days, I’ve been a little rough on myself, and really rough on some others as well.

Clarity. Clarification.

I have no expectations on outcomes for this season. That does not mean I have no standards. There is no expectation on my part for anyone to reach my personal standards. I push until it hurts, then I go past that. If you didn’t already know, don’t ask for details. You’ll find out soon enough.

That said. I have fundamental standards for the organization. Communication. Let’s be awkward middle school students. As a group, we really don’t know each other, yet. There’s some basic relationship building we need to do before we really trust each other and really start moving together, as an organization. 

I’ve jumped into a situation where, in real terms, I’ve been a part of, have observed, have had thoughts and opinions about, for 34 years.

I’ve hit the ground running and want everyone to jump on the wild, crazy ride. 

Don’t ask questions. Get on the llama πŸ˜›

I can be intellectual and express I understand how others feel, but I really don’t. That is not an excuse, but a reality.

And that’s my barometer. That’s my motivation. That’s my challenge. How you feel. How the group feels. Knowing how to draw out and manage the emotions of each, of all. Individually,  together. I can manage my own emotions, I have to manage my emotions, because in many ways, the success of the organization will depend greatly on calm, cool, steady leadership.

Greatness will come when each person goes beyond compliance of what is asked, and give complete emotional commitment. That will be tough, difficult,  even a little scary, and maybe a little messy, at times. Ok, maybe a lot scary and a lot messy. But it’ll be exciting. 

At some point, I’ll push too hard. You’ll push too hard. Me, you, both. But we’re going to look out for each other, right? Yes? Please? πŸ˜‚

Great conversation with Charlie Groh last night. Parts of it are here. We talked mostly about my specific plans to push, when necessary, and manage the instructional staff. Really what it came down to is how will we create focus. Focus for each moment, each block, each day. What is the intent. What is the goal. What’s important. How do we get there.

Great texts with Marti today about her gathering of fabrics for the new uniform. I trust her judgment, completely. She does beautiful work. I will be meeting with her again Sunday. We are pushing this project along with judicious haste.

Lots of good discussions with Aaron and the design team throughout the day. Several major figure it out moments. We are the most awkward middle school students right now. Love you guys! πŸ’˜

Jen, knocking me socks off again. I am making no promises but…☺

Robert Mac Tavish had an idea about sending out 100 post cards, using one of the color flyers with the Open House info, printed on card stock. I asked our media graphics person to format the flyer to standard postcard size. We will be sending out an announcement of our 2018 season inaugural event to 100 local band directors. I’ll give you the statistics on the effectiveness of this kind of campaign at the vet meeting. I also asked our media graphics person to create some generic dateless posters for Impulse to use in general promotions. She sent me those as well, today.

Recruitment booth with Mrs and Mr Baba in Van Nuys tomorrow.

Follow your Impulse ❀

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Impulse 2018: A Day in a Life

Email from DCI upper management this morning, been only dealing with middle management for the last month or so: new director meeting coming up, other activities at next Indy meeting. The email was really just a friendly hello and welcome. Its been 10 years since my last opportunity to represent Impulse in events at HQ.

Email from Katie about website. The webmaster role is in transition. Things will happen when when they happen. That’s positive πŸ˜›  I also asked her to make staff contacts regarding their attendance at the vet meeting, November 19th. I’ve had a few contacts with most of the staff. We will all definitely talk more, and more, through the season.

I’ve asked Marc to work with me, us on a short, short, short term project for end of December. Here’s a hit: drum battle πŸ˜€ He’s working it on his end, hopefully he tosses it back to me soon so I can take the next step. Also had general discussions with him.

I use the word hopefully a lot. I am always hopeful, always optimistic. We are a team. I believe all of us are ready and willing to do our part, whatever it may be.

Communications with Robert MacTavish regarding need to restock souvenirs. I will work with Martha regarding venders for that, and what the current souvie inventory is, plus another possible project. Black shirts, giant yellow Zots! There. I said it. 

A parent contacted me last month about placement of an ad for Impulse in a band tournament program. I wasn’t able to secure a check for her on the timeline she had. She graciously fronted the cash, and this morning I was able to confirm her reimbursement is in the mail.

Met with Marti to discuss a new uniform design. We came to agreement on details, once I answered questions she had, and ideas she had regarding specific design and fabrics. I totally trust her judgment and asked for her to proceed, and call, text me any further information needs she may have. I’ve volunteered to her my services as a fabric cutter.

15 years ago, with the help of a friend, we cut and sewed all 12 closer flags.

True story!

Jen…. Jen, Jen, Jen, Jen, Jen. Okay, everyone is going to play a HUGE role in what Impulse achieves this year. So far, Jen has given me almost more in logistical and recruitment prompts than I can handle. At some point in time, she, Aldo, me, and the Oompa Loompas are really going to dig into our equipment inventory. And her plan for the instruction of brass has given me another tool to help sell Impulse. But today, she just wanted to talk valve oil.

Contacted Danny. Doing any and all to help and support the.corps.

Alexis contacted me about a recruiting gig she set up. Who is Alexis? 2 year Impulse vet, 2 year Trooper vet. Another alumni, coming in, helping the cause.

Speaking of alumni, and other general support…I’m looking for food donations for our Open House. I will create a list and have people check off items they can donate. Look for that in the next week, or so.

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Impulse 2018: Expectations

…but first, an update πŸ˜€

I have a “new” three valve mellophone bugle, thank you Mike Hurd (VK 87-88, SCV 89), but it has no mouthpiece. There’s a local music store and several local high schools where I am sure I can procure a mouthpiece, but I want to tie them into Impulse as well. I’ll marinate some ideas a little more. I’ll be taking this horn to all future Impulse recruitment booths.

Meeting tomorrow to discuss the production of a mock up for a new uniform. Maybe preview at vet meeting? Maybe not until Open House? 

Set up an on campus visit to recruit for Impulse at a local high school. The band director will confirm on Friday, day and time. I’ll probably make at least two visits, hopefully more. Tonight was my second phone call with the director. He suggested, and I agreed, my second presentation should be to his booster group. My intent is to establish long term relationships with local programs that can send multiple students to Impulse every year. My contacts with this director will provide me model in which to do that πŸ˜€ The director also wants to connect with Impulse as a way to further develop his program.

Sent caption heads lists of contact information from potential members we gathered at band tournaments at Gahr and Warren high schools. Need to ask Mrs Baba to send me the spreadsheets she typed into the laptop Saturday for the contact lists from Colony high school and Westminster high school. will follow up with caption heads next week on cooridating our contacts with these potential members. 

DCI asked me yesterday to send a flyer announcing Impulse Auditions. DCI wants this flyer by next Wednesday, for publication in the BOA championship tournament program. DCI sent an invitation for all corps to do the same. I contacted one of our multimedia people yesterday, she sent me the flyer today. I forwarded it to DCI. That’s how Impulse rolls πŸ˜€

Various other daily communications with Aaron, instructional and support staff.

Expectations for Impulse

Yours: I am most certainly aware that some people within the organization have particular expectations for Impulse for this season.

Mine: I do not have any specific expectations, for reasons I will detail later.

Ours: Ideally, this is the daily motivation that drives ALL those within the organization.

Outside of the organization: Impulse should… Been hearing these since… beyond the scope of this postπŸ˜ƒ

I’m going to tread lightly here. Suffice to say there is a change in culture happening with Impulse.

That’s huge. No, that’s HUGE

I am asking a lot of people to do a lot of things they’ve never done before, with people they’ve never worked with before, in a manner with which none of us have ever had to work before.

And it should all work out smoothlyπŸ˜ƒ

OK, maybe notπŸ˜‰

In life, there are periodic “figure it out” moments. This will be a season long series of figure it out moments, figure it out days, figure it out weeks, and figure it out months. And that’s OK, as long as we keep our heads up, we keep our heads together, and communicate with one another.

I say I don’t have specific expectations, because I don’t. My expectations, I’m hopeful, are universal, and that these expectations lead each person in the organization to reach a singular point in time, together. And that when that moment happens, those that are there enjoy it so much, they share it with others. And the next time that moment happens, more people are there, and they enjoy it that much more. And these moments build, and build, and build. Until finally all of us, are all together, enjoying a single moment of time, together…

One heart, one feeling, one love


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Impulse 2018: Updates, end of October

Josh (trumpet) sent me a message the other day about an idea he had to add to the recruitment booths we have for the rest of this season (5).

Equipment! Horns, specifically. I have a three value mello bugle, thank you Mike Hurd (VK ’87-’88, SCV ’89) I’m looking for others who can, want to contribute to this effort with their own horns.

Yes. We still have horns, and they are on the truck. Without going into detail, my efforts to get to the truck and do inventory are still in process. Coordinating schedules and finding compatible meeting times can be a challenge.

Help a StingRay out. 🎺 If you have a marching horn, come out to our booths and bring your horn! Next event:

Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuts
November 4th, other deets TBA


I received confirmation and details regarding the space for an Impulse booth at:
West Covina HS
November 7th, I’ll be there from 3pm on
(Thank you, Sunshine) Really looking forward towards meeting Mrs and Mr Hetrick and Hannah that evening πŸ˜€ 

Savanna tournament at Glover field, Anaheim
November 11th, ALL DAY

I sent in the paperwork for our return to recruit at:
Colony HS, 3A championships
November 18th, other deets TBA

I was contacted yesterday by a local band director. He wants to exchange equipment in return for a no-fee use of his school facilities. I returned his email right away but with no promises, only to continue the conversation.

He’s agreed that I could come and recruit his students and that we should explore other mutually beneficial arrangements in the future. I’ll be in contact with him again Wednesday.

Speaking of recruitment, I need to get back to Tom. He and Ruben are working on a recruitment Video, with an assist from Aaron on BITD Impulse pix and other content. Tom has known me for so long, he’s asked for some Ray-isms to include in the video. πŸ˜†

Aaron has been doing an outstanding job staying on top of me, and staying on top of the details of what it is we need others to attend to also. Especially, but not limited to, design team, DM selection process, and recruitment efforts overall.

Some local corps, DCI stuff today. Actually last few days. Part of the job that will never be on any job description. Its all good. It is what it is. Good to develop anything positive with other corps in communication and cooperation.

I’ve tentatively scheduled a Thursday meeting with a seamtress to produce a mock up of the new uniform. I need to call tomorrow and confirm a specific time.

I saw Mrs Sneddon got some pix up on the FB page from the tournament Saturday. No updates yet on the transition of webmaters. 

Need to get an agenda out there for the vet- alumni meeting November 19th. Suggestions are welcome.

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Impulse 2018: Westminster HS – Part 2

A little Thursday night remix first, and mix in some Saturday tooπŸ˜ƒ

Mr. Matthews had some of his students help me set up. That was a big help. Also gave me a head start in practicing my Impulse pitch that I would be using all night Thursday and all day Saturday.

Very happy to say, I think I got better throughout each event. Its a daily challenge to myself and a challenge I’ll have for staff all season. Something as an instructor I consistently requested from the members was for them to push me, challenge me.

Another figure it out moment for me! How do get staff to push me, challenge me? Jen is doing great, so far πŸ˜‰ Marc and Danny too. OK, so far so goodπŸ˜ƒ As we all cross each bridge working together, creating and meshing and melding what it is each are doing we’ll also make new challenges and new opportunities.

I’ve only been assisting the Baba’s at the recruiting booths for the last 4-5 years. Like I think I’ve written recently, but I’ll repeat periodically, I am unnecessarily honest at times. I told Martha and Byron at the very end of the night Saturday, I’ve never worked this hard at recruitment in the past.

Specifically, actually selling the program. I know a big part of that is that the program is now something I can see in my mind’s eye. Jen has spoken with me an idea, one that I’ve always believed, and that I’ve talked with Danny about, and confirmed he believes also, and Marc is on board too. We teach. We educate. All who come to us are learners.


That’s the best part about working with young humans. They believe. They want to believe. They can be encouraged to believe. They trust. They expect people to be honest and follow through on their word.

That’s what happens to so many growing through youth and adolescence into adulthood: broken dreams, broken promises. Idealism is lost. We are told to stop dreaming, grow up, get real.


My heart is kinda racing. I got a little rush of emotions when I was mopping the floor this morning. Its out there. The energy, the word. People are starting to believe again. Dreams can come true!


Impulse has turned a page. Impulse has turned a corner. We are building something. An incredible ride is beginning.

To be continued…

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Impulse 2018: Recruitment – Westminster HS Part 1

The footsteps behind us…
In person, in real life, I will tell stories from time to time. Not as a rule and  only if that story serves a purpose or function in that moment. I am not an entertainer: I entertain; I am entertaining, its my DNA  I have been trained well in entertainment arts. I am very comfortable on a stage, under lights, literally and metaphorically, but my current primary role is as a facilitator, as an educator. To create moments,  situations, environments for others to flourish and thrive in what it is they are to do.


The legacy, the mythology of the Anaheim Velvet Knights came up several times yesterday during recruitment, not by me, but from young people recalling stories from a previous generation . There is a direct history that ties Impulse to this legacy and mythology. My personal history runs through the rise of VK as a landmark in DCI lore and the birth of Impulse, and the road Impulse has traveled since.

I was a 5 year member of VK. One corps. My corps. As an individual, I did my gig well, very well. I say that, not from a point of view of arrogance,  but from fact. Part of the reason I excelled was because I enjoy the relationship this activity enables: physically punishing yourself and getting better at something. Another reason was that focusing on my individual gig distracted me from off the field issues, including,  but not limited to…


I thought I would ask a “simple” question on the VK alumni FB page I wondered how many times people experienced their tour bus catching fire. Since I have my own experiences, and I’d seen several other posts, on that page, of similar events, I was curious; what is the total number of bus fires, for the organization. These are SOME of the responses to the question: How many times has your bus caught fire.

– too many

– which year

– yes

– all buses or just mine in a season

– outside or inside? like even that “mysterious ” fire next to the bus

– smoking related fires?

– bus moving or not moving? an electrical fire in the parking lot?

– fires caused by the bus crashing into something?

– is this a trick question?

– fires caused by friction under blankets, hahaha

– engine fires or fires caused by other mechanical problems?

– when the bus AND the truck caught fire?

– fires that were put out right away or fires that needed professionals to put out

– are you trying to crash the internet?

These responses make me laugh and make me cry. One of my initial, and still a continuing, motivation to work with Impulse is I don’t want current students in the activity to have these kinds of experiences. Most of these past events were due to health and safety regulations and laws, at the time, being lax or not enforced. A few of these previous situations of tour buses catching fire were plain and simple human error.

Objectively and even subjectively, these stories can be funny. As an adult, responsible for all manner of health and safety for an organization,  these stories are nightmares.

What part of real history becomes part of a legacy? When does a legacy elevate to mythology? Questions beyond the point πŸ˜€

VK was my corps. Impulse is my corps. There is a real history that connects those two facts.We will define how that connection is manifested. What that connection is will be part of another ongoing conversation.


An oft asked question that came up in the course of the recruitment at Orange Coast tournament yesterday; what is this year’s show; specifically, what’s the music. I’m happy to report the captions are fully engaged in listening to and sharing all ideas with each other. It is a tedious process, but they are fully aware time is not on our side.

Will there be an announcement at the vet-alumni meeting? Maybe, probably not. Will the selections be narrowed; I’m hopeful, yes. Will a show music announcement come at Open House? Ideally, yes, but the show construction itself may be further along at that point than specific music selections.

My goal, however, is to get music sent for copyright approval by mid-December. The team will come to agreement on show music selections by then. Even though the copyright process can take months, show writing and construction, and the learning of the show music will commence. 

No pressure,  design team πŸ˜€

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