From Matthew Shippey – RCC Indoor Percussion and BD Snare Drummer

From Matthew Shippey – RCC Indoor Percussion and BD Snare Drummer –

This past weekend felt so special – just thinking about it 5 years ago I was one of the System Blue, 2014 attendees watching The Blue Devils being inspired to do this activity. Since that event, I have marched every single season I possibly could have and it has been a life changing experience. These System Blue Educational Events inspire the next generation of drummers in the activity. And if I hadn’t gone to that System Blue Event in 2014 I wouldn’t be here doing this activity year round for 5 years straight. It’s honestly a blessing in my life and every single person in this picture has absolutely touched my life in such an amazing way. RCC Indoor Percussion has made my heart so full this weekend. I absolutely love my tiger family with all my heart.

Growing the Marching Arts From Afar and From Within –  BD Alumni Aaron Spevak talks about his Blue Devil Roots and System Blue

Aaron Spevak was born and raised in Chicago, IL and currently resides in Lithuania. Aaron started his European adventure immediately after he aged out of drum corps as a Blue Devil in 2011. His journey began in Austria when he was invited to attend a university there. Soon after, he moved to Belgium to continue his study of marimba for two more years. It was at that time a System Blue Educational Event was being held in Eastern Europe featuring the Blue Devils Drumline. While Aaron did not attend the event in Lithuania, he connected with some of the System Blue students nearly six years later. They continue to talk about that event to this day.Aaron remarks, “That System Blue event made a big impact and remains a big influencer to this day here in Europe.”

A few years later, a fellow alumni invited Aaron to come teach at an educational event in Lithuania. Aaron fell in love with the area, the culture, the cost of living, the opportunity, and most of all the untapped talent. Two weeks out from exams back at his university in Belgium, Aaron decided to forgo graduation and moved to Lithuania instead. With no plan and only an intense passion for teaching and growing the marching arts, Aaron has completed his seventh year of educating in Europe.

“I enjoy every single day, and every day is different,” says Spevak. It’s a huge adventure and things are growing in a great direction.”

Currently, Aaron has his own percussion studio where he teaches the groundwork and the basics of drumming. This studio resides within the American International School of Vilnius and they are extremely supportive of his ideas involving the development of the fine arts. The mutual System Blue Educational experience, internal connections, and the organic growth of programs in Vilnius, Lithuania has resulted in four European students performing in four different world class drum corps in the United States.

“Many of the students who attended that System Blue Event over six years ago are currently my students and still talk about it to this day. We put a lot of emphasis on sending students to the world class corps to audition, as we know, whether they make it or not, that the experience will help them grow by leaps and bounds.”

The Blue Devils have been a family affair for the Spevaks, as Aaron’s younger sister, Marisa also aged out of the drum corps.

“One of the best experiences of my marching career was watching her perform and seeing her win just about every award one can,” says Aaron.

You could say Aaron has had a super healthy career in drum corps. He started in the Colts, then marched with the Cavaliers, moved on to Carolina Crown, and aged out with the Blue Devils. And if that was not enough, he also marched seven seasons of indoor percussion. His sister, following his path also completed one season with the Colts, two seasons with Phantom Regiment, and three seasons with the Blue Devils – aging-out as center marimba of the front ensemble.

“A common question many of us have when aging out of drum corps and indoor is ‘what is next’?” remarks Spevak. “After completing over 180 drum corps shows, I was faced with the question of ‘how can I share this experience?’”

“I received my BDPA emails and became aware of their Special Needs Guard, as well as saw the Free Players at DCI finals. I was touched by the experience that was being created for these performers as well inspired by the organizers of these groups.”

Spevak never envisioned himself organizing a special needs group himself until the day he heard the song This Is Me from The Greatest Showman. The lyrics inspired him as they spoke about marching to the beat of your own drum. His current drumline, Iron Wolf Drum Line, had been searching for the next experience. They wanted to be able to attract more attention in order to the organization. Aaron wondered what could be next for his group. In an effort to add another dimension of creative energy, he soon incorporated the basketball team’s professional dance squad. This enabled him to bring additional excitement to both the performers and the crowds as they built the program.

Recently, Aaron received a call from LKL, which is the equivalent of the NBA in Lithuania. They offered a contract to Iron Wolf Drum Line to perform a half-time show at an all star game. Over 10,000 people would be in attendance and a half million would watch online. Given the magnitude of the opportunity to create a remarkable halftime show, Aaron decided to include special needs performers on this incredible stage. He reached out to local programs and quickly recruited special needs drummers and dancers. Spevak had much support and was able to include state-of-the-art sound and lighting to the performance.

In addition to the overwhelming support from many different partners, Aaron also received some remarkable help from another fellow Blue Devil alumni, Preston Howard. Preston traveled to Lithuania and donated ten days of his time to this incredible cause. He staged the entire performance via 3D animations. This was Preston’s second self-funded trip to the Baltic State of Lithuania.

“He contributes his time and resources with a kind, professional, and highly motivated heart – a common trait of a Blue Devil,” according to Aaron.

Sixteen special needs performers paired up with the drummers and the dancers to pull off an incredible show that wowed the audience. The performance had such a profound impact on all the performers. They are ready to hit the stage again and again. Aaron Spevak and his drumline are awaiting the next opportunity to bring these performers together once more.

“I promised all of them that I would take time out of my schedule to find us another opportunity,” says Aaron.

All of Aaron’s passion and energy are helping to create more awareness and support for the marching arts. His program has inspired a yearly drumline battle which brings groups from all over Europe to compete. Included in the competing drum lines is a group from Central Europe. This program is headed by educator, Samuel Kmotorka, who also attended the System Blue Educational Event over six years ago. Two years into the drumline battle, Samuel’s group, spawned from Slovakia, has won the Gold Medal in Lithuania against some healthy competition.

Aaron is building something special and unique in Europe. He is using his skills and education from drum corps and the Blue Devils to make an impact. Every year there is growth and more performers who aspire to march in a World Class Drum Corps or in an indoor drumline. Special needs musicians and dancers are anxious to perform again. His journey started out as a performer and a Blue Devil age out and now he influences so many aspiring performers all over Europe.

We are proud of the work Aaron is doing and are excited to see what the future holds. We too are inspired by Aaron’s drive and passion and love to see the remarkable work of our Blue Devil age outs.

See the finals performance of Iron Wolf Drumline  →

Check out some rehearsal coverage from Lithuanian television station, BTV →

WGI Solo & Ensemble powered by System Blue

Last week, we promised you an announcement on something you would love!  This summer, WGI Sport of the Arts, the world’s leader in producing indoor marching arts events for color guard, percussion ensembles and winds groups, will launch a new educational performance opportunity for marching arts performers—WGI Solo & Ensemble powered by System Blue.

Positioned in WGI’s typical off-season—and before the start of summer band—WGI Solo & Ensemble offers a venue for performers of all ages to showcase their skills as an individual or small ensemble. Unique in its format, WGI Solo & Ensemble will welcome any and all performers, including those not currently or previously affiliated with a WGI-performing group.

Split between two age classifications and four performance categories, performers will present a short piece in front of a judge to receive personalized, recorded commentary and an overall rating. Although performers/ensembles will be split between two distinct age groups, there will be no age limit in any performance category. Performance categories include Color Guard, Percussion, Winds—Woodwind, and Winds—Brass.

“We are excited to offer an educational performance opportunity beyond WGI’s winter season,” said Ron Nankervis, WGI Executive Director. “In opening up the competition to all performers, WGI Solo & Ensemble powered by System Blue is staged to critique a dynamic mix of talents – continuing a passion for music performance for some, and introducing WGI to others.”

WGI’s newest presenting sponsor, System Blue, is the “Powering Partner” of WGI Solo & Ensemble.  “We are proud to partner in this unique addition to the indoor marching arts, and look forward to seeing it develop into the future,” said David Gibbs, System Blue President.

Dates and locations for these new competitions will be announced throughout the 2019 winter season. Visit to learn more about the competing categories of WGI Solo & Ensemble, and sign up to receive updates as more information is announced.

Have questions? Send us an email at!

System Blue Partners with WGI

Posted on Categories News

System Blue announced today the creation of a strategic partnership with WGI Sport of the Arts, the world’s leader in producing indoor marching arts events for color guard, percussion ensembles and winds groups. Effective immediately, System Blue will serve as a Presenting Sponsor of WGI.

“It is important to find opportunities to strengthen our relationships with companies who focus on music education,” said Bart Woodley, WGI Director of Operations & Sponsor Relations. “Aligning a partnership with System Blue is a strong step forward in the indoor marching arts activity—especially with the new, exciting educational projects we have on the horizon, which will be ‘powered by’ System Blue.”

“From our full line of educational offerings to our innovative percussion, brass and concert percussion instruments, System Blue strives to provide everyone involved in the marching arts with the resources and skills they need to pursue and promote musical excellence,” said David Gibbs, System Blue President. “Our partnership with WGI and their educational programs allows System Blue to fulfill our mission and dive even deeper into offering engaging, accessible and interactive educational opportunities for all.”

Watch for more exciting news from this new partnership in the weeks to come on


WGI Sport of the Arts is the world’s premier organization producing indoor color guard, percussion, and wind ensemble competitions. It is called the Sport of the Arts because it brings music to life through performance in a competitive format. As a non-profit organization, the sport continues to evolve and grow every season. In 2019, there will be more than 46,000 participants at the regional level, and more than 15,000 participants at the WGI World Championships in April 2019.


System Blue is backed by over 100 years of experience and knowledge and proudly delivers the products and education only few have dared to dream. With a mission to engage band directors, teachers, staff, designers, performers, and marching members to promote musical excellence all over the world. Designed by Champions and played by champions, our products are tested and approved by the marching arts’ elite. System Blue’s products are matched by superior sound, performance, comfort, and safety. System Blue offers a full line of Marching Brass, Marching Percussion and Concert Percussion instruments.

Congratulations BAC – 2019 Best In Show

Posted on Categories News

We want to wish a heartfelt congratulations to B.A.C. Musical Instruments “Best American Craftsmen” on their incredible achievement of winning Best In Show – Company To Watch at the 2019 NAMM Show. We are proud to have you as our business partner and distributor and we look forward to our continued journey together. Thank you for all you do in the music products industry.

Learn more about this prestigious award →

The Connecticut Hurricanes Join System Blue

The Connecticut Hurricanes

System Blue is proud to announce the addition of The Connecticut Hurricanes to the DCA roster of artists.

The Connecticut Hurricanes Drum & Bugle Corps is an All-Age Drum Corps performance organization based in Seymour, CT. The Corps prides itself in being the only World Class All-Age Drum Corps in New England, and draws its members from throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, as well as New York State and the New York City metro area.

Founded in Derby, Connecticut in 1932 as the John H. Collins American Legion Post Fife Drum & Bugle Corps, the Hurricanes transformed to the competitive arena in 1955 as a drum & bugle corps and became a charter member of Drum Corps Associates (DCA) in 1963. They are the oldest, continually active organization in the DCA.

System Blue is backed by over 100 years of experience and knowledge and proudly delivers the products and education we’ve only dared to dream of. The team of designers have walked the very path you walk now. They  are the same dedicated performers and educators that you are. System Blue offers a full line of Marching Brass, Percussion and Concert Percussion instruments.

Review from James Densley – Director of Bands at Fremont High School (Utah)

Posted on Categories News

I promised a post-marching season follow up review on my new System Blue drum line purchased this summer, for any curious directors out there. So here it is.. (happy reading if interested!) keep scrolling if you don’t care

First of all, just so you know where I’m coming from, I am a percussionist, and have been teaching marching percussion even longer than I’ve been a head band director, and as a performer I’ve experienced many different levels of marching performance. I’ve ALWAYS been a Yamaha guy, so this is a big deal for me!

Guys….these drums are great.

Pros: professional level instruments, but not as heavy as comparable professional instruments. They sound great, less hardware components, so less repair on small annoying parts like lug casings. Easy, EASY ON2 wrap installation. They look super cool

Cons: Not *really* a con, BUT they do have their own idiosyncrasies, and you cannot approach the tuning scheme the same way you do traditional Yamaha, Pearl, Mapex, Dynasty, etc. drums. I tried it at first and couldn’t get a great sound out of them.

To fix the tuning issues, I contacted Scott Johnson at Blue Devils since he’s had a few years to work out the kinks, to ask about how he gets them to sound their best, and he was SOOO.. open with me. I followed ALL of his advice (suggested heads, bass muffling, tuning the individual snare guts, scoops, tuning pitches/intervals, etc.), and when I did they sounded INCREDIBLE! HUUUUGE step up.

SB’s customer service: A-MAZ-ING. That’s it.

ON2 compatibility: SOOOO easy, and fast to install! If you wanted to, you could change snare wraps part way through a show (like BD did with these drums in ‘17)

My students LOVED them. Partially for the weight, partially because they are just super cool looking haha and the students loving them is worth it. Because they felt great about it, AND they took SUCH good care of them.

Weight: snares and basses are SO light! The snares are seriously about 9-ish pounds. The tenors only come in the large option with a 14” 13” 12” 10” 8” 6” sextet. So they ARE pretty heavy in their own right, BUT they are lighter than the same type of sextet set-up from other brands. If you buy the tenors, you WILL want the Randall May carriers with the ABS back support. I made the mistake of ordering basic tubular J-bar carriers for the tenors, and the weight was just a little too much, but once we replaced them with the ABS carriers, they had absolutely NO weight problems.

BOTTOM LINE: these are game changers. I know a LOT of people have been skeptical of them, but most cynics are people who have never personally experienced them. Most of them watched a video or something of BD’s battery, or took secondhand info from someone who heard from someone who worked with a group who used them. I’m telling you, as a Yamaha EVERYTHING guy (and we all know how percussionists are with their loyalties) I love these drums. If for no other reason (although there are TONS of other reasons)than the fact that my students loved them, and felt awesome-physically and mentally-using them.

If you are skeptical, please feel free to DM me with questions. Please don’t base your opinions on “well I heard _______” also, System Blue gives me nothing for doing this haha this is a 100% honest review.

Let me know if you have questions!