Scott Johnson, Per­cus­sion Direc­tor for the Blue Devils Drum & Bu­gle Corps

Rhythm - - BEAT! -

Scott Johnson’s mu­si­cal train­ing be­gan at the age of four when he be­gan tak­ing drum lessons from a lo­cal per­cus­sion in­struc­tor. At the en­cour­age­ment of this in­struc­tor he be­came in­volved in Drum and Bu­gle Corps ac­tiv­ity. Be­fore his fifth birth­day, Scott joined the Red Knights Drum and Bell Corps and later grad­u­ated to the Royal-Airs Drum and Bu­gle Corps. Scott re­mained with the unit un­til he joined the Blue Devils Drum and Bu­gle Corps at age 18. He was a march­ing mem­ber in the Blue Devils snare line from 1976 through 1979. Hav­ing be­come a mem­ber of the Blue Devils staff as a Per­cus­sion in­struc­tor from 1978 through 1989, Scott later re­joined the or­gan­i­sa­tion in 1994 as Direc­tor of Per­cus­sion and Per­cus­sion Ar­ranger. Scott is also the for­mer Per­cus­sion Ar­ranger for River­side Community Col­lege, as well as the ar­ranger for Beatrix Drum Corps from Hol­land, San Fran­cisco Rene­gades Drum and Bu­gle Corps and ar­ranger for many drum corps and march­ing bands in the United States, as well as in Ja­pan.

Dur­ing his time away from the Blue Devils, Scott was hired as Direc­tor of Per­cus­sion and Per­cus­sion Ar­ranger for the Santa Clara Van­guard Drum and Bu­gle Corps from 1991 through 1993 af­ter one year as per­cus­sion con­sul­tant in 1990.

Per­sonal awards in­clude 17 DCI Gold medal cham­pi­onships, 14 DCI High Per­cus­sion ti­tles, two WGI (Win­ter Guard In­ter­na­tional) Gold medal cham­pi­onships, three DCA Gold medal cham­pi­onships, two DCA High Per­cus­sion ti­tles, 10 DCE cham­pi­onships, nine DCE High Per­cus­sion ti­tles, 10 High Per­cus­sion ti­tles in Ja­pan, and 1977 DCI and PAS (Per­cus­sive Arts So­ci­ety) In­di­vid­ual Snare cham­pion.

Scott was in­ducted into the 2012 class of the DCI Hall Of Fame, the 2012 WGI Hall Of Fame, and the 2015 World Drum Corps Hall Of Fame. Scott has also taught pri­vately and ar­ranged per­cus­sion scores at el­e­men­tary, ju­nior, se­nior high, and univer­sity lev­els and

his judg­ing as­sign­ments have in­cluded nu­mer­ous march­ing band and per­cus­sion com­pe­ti­tions through­out the world. He is one of the most sought-af­ter March­ing Per­cus­sion clin­i­cians in the world today, hav­ing held nu­mer­ous per­cus­sion clin­ics around the world.

At what age did you start drum­ming?

“I started tak­ing lessons when I was four years old.”

Big­gest drum­ming in­flu­ence?

“I grew up in the 60s’ and ’70s so it would have to be Buddy Rich. I used to play kit and I ac­tu­ally did a rock tour in 1985 with the re­make of the Jimmy Hen­drix band and that was my one year of do­ing drum­set on tour. I don’t re­ally play any more – I just tend to fo­cus on my teach­ing now. The rock tour was a pretty in­tense year but a whole lot of fun.”

What made you want to join the Blue Devils Drum & Bu­gle Corps?

“All my friends did. I was in a small drum corps in a town called San Le­an­dro in Cal­i­for­nia and it was lit­er­ally 35 miles from Conker and 35 miles from Santa Clara and we were stuck in the mid­dle. We had a small drum corps called the Royal-Airs Drum and Bu­gle Corps in the early ’70s and they ended up fold­ing for fi­nan­cial rea­sons so it was al­ways a big de­ci­sion with my friends I grew up with, whether we would go to Santa Clara Van­guard or Blue Devils. My friends went to Blue Devils so I ended up go­ing with them. It turned out to be a good choice!”

What type of sticks do you cur­rently use?

“Pro Mark TXDC17W, which is my sig­na­ture stick.”

Do you have a favourite rudi­ment?

“That would have to be the para­did­dle-did­dle. I think the only rea­son for that is that I can play them re­ally fast. If I want to im­press some­body with speed then this is my go-to rudi­ment.”

Which other Drum Corps would you most like to play with?

“When I was march­ing, it would def­i­nitely have to be Santa Clara Van­guard who were my neigh­bours. I was ac­tu­ally go­ing to march with them in 1975 but my fa­ther said I should stop home for the sum­mer and help him build a big ad­di­tion onto the house. I didn’t march that one sum­mer and the next sum­mer was ’76 and that’s the year all my friends talked me into go­ing to the Blue Devils in­stead of Van­guard. Although I didn’t march with them I was for­tu­nate enough to teach there for a cou­ple of years. Nowa­days, there are so many good drum corps – I love ev­ery­one’s style! How­ever, I can’t re­ally show any favourites other than my guys.”

What is your proud­est drum­ming mo­ment to date?

“Prob­a­bly the one year I taught WGI (Win­ter Guard In­ter­na­tional) drum­line. We did a show about a deaf girl called The Sound of Si­lence. I was the main guy there and I did all the orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions and stuff and it was ex­tremely re­ward­ing that we did the story of a deaf person and how they would ex­pe­ri­ence mu­sic. Some peo­ple to this day think it was an act­ing job by this girl but she was re­ally deaf and we based the show on what she knew and how she felt mu­sic. She felt the vi­bra­tions more than any­thing else. We ended up win­ning gold medal at the WGI Cham­pi­onships. I think it was in 2001. The mem­ory of go­ing through the whole sea­son with her was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing. This is my 38th year with the Blue Devils or­gan­i­sa­tion and there are so many mem­o­ries there but the one that sticks out is the in­door per­for­mance of the RCP drum­line back then.”

Do you have any ad­vice or a quote you’d like to share with us?

“My ad­vice is, YouTube! What YouTube has to of­fer is an amaz­ing tool. You can type in any drum­line you want and watch any ex­er­cise or show mu­sic you want and it’s right there for you. It’s a great learn­ing and teach­ing tool that we never had back in the day. My favourite say­ing, which has been for­ever, is: “If you’re not hav­ing fun we’re do­ing it wrong.”

The Blue Devils Drum Corps in ac­tion

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