System Blue Educational Event featuring the Blue Devils

  • Educational Events
  • Leadership
  • Percussion
  • Color Guard

Eden Prairie, Mn :: July 6–7, 2018

System Blue Educational Events provide an opportunity for students, educators, and fans alike to hone their performance, leadership, and teaching skills under the instruction of the finest educators in the marching arts.

Student Clinic: $160
Educator Workshop: FREE

Price includes:

  • Instruction and materials
  • Some meals (see schedule)
  • T-shirt
  • Admission to DCI Minnesota
  • Access to discounted friends/family DCI Minnesota tickets

Group rates: 5% discount for 5-9 people; 10% discount for 10-14 people. Groups of 15+ contact erik@systemblue.org

Eden Prairie High School map
17185 Valley View Road
Eden Prairie, Mn 55346

HOUSING: This is a commuter camp. There are many good hotel options near the event site should you need overnight accommodations.


Friday, July 6
11:00 am
Registration Opens
12:00 pm
Afternoon Session Starts
4:00 pm
Dinner Break (meal provided)
5:00 pm
Evening Session Starts
9:00 pm
Camp End for the Day
Saturday, July 7
10:00 am
Session Starts
2:00 pm
Camp Ends
4:00 pm
DCI Minnesota Show Starts

Please bring a completed medical form with you to the event. You will not be able to participate in the event with out a medical form. If under 18, the form must be signed by your parent or guardian. Download the form




Leadership / Drum Major Clinic

System Blue Leadership Clinics are for students, ages 14 and up, in all sections of the marching band, including woodwind, brass, color guard, percussion, and drum majors. Each System Blue Leadership Clinic is designed to be highly experiential, and to give students tools and concrete strategies to help make an immediate difference when they return to their own bands. Specific content includes:

  • Procedures and strategies for effective peer teaching
  • How effective leaders communicate
  • The three components of leadership effectiveness
  • Seven levels of learning and awareness
  • Characteristics of high-quality leaders
  • Conducting skills (for drum majors). Note that System Blue Leadership Clinics do not address mace or military-style baton skills.

One of the unique and most exciting components of System Blue Leadership Clinics is the personal interaction with the instructors and members of the 17-time World Champion Blue Devils. At multi-day leadership clinics, students will have the chance to observe and rehearse with the brass, percussion, and color guard sections of the Blue Devils.

This camp features breakout sessions specifically for drum majors and for returning System Blue Leadership campers. Drum major breakouts include:

  • Conducting fundamentals
  • Understanding how pulse and tempo maintenance are affected by staging
  • Rehearsal management and pacing

Breakouts for returning leadership campers include:

  • Advanced communication skills
  • Advanced teaching skills
  • Level 7 Learning

Instructional Staff

Willie Veenstra

William (Willie) Veenstra splits his passions between several classrooms. Willie is a full time Algebra II and Calculus BC AP teacher at Cypress Ridge High School. He also is Visual Caption head and co-coordinator for the Cy-Fair HS Marching Band and helps with their indoor drumline. Willie was performing member of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps, playing trumpet for two year (2011-2012) and serving as drum major for three (2013-2015). He is now going on year three on visual staff with the Bluecoats and works with Monarch Independent Indoor Drumline. Willie graduated with his BS in Petroleum Engineering from The University of Texas and was a three-year member of the Longhorn band. This will be Willie’s 2nd year with System Blue helping with leadership camps and Drum Major training.

James Rocillo

Over the course of two decades, James Rocillo has cultivated a diverse curriculum vitae in music as a performer, educator, and competition adjudicator. His formal music education spans the campuses of Long Beach City College, Citrus College, and California State University, Northridge. Throughout the years, he has had the great privilege of receiving instruction from renowned trumpet artists Bobby Shew, Tony Lujan, Ron Stout, Sal Cracchiolo, Rob Roy McGregor, Bob Slack,Charlie Davis,Clay Jenkins, Kye Plamer, and Wayne Bergeron. Consequently, James himself has become an internationally accomplished musician and can easily shift between the genres of classical and jazz. His performances have taken him around the Pacific and back again, traveling through California, Hawaii, Canada, and Japan.

James' experience as an educator is threefold, instructing at the high school, college, and drum corps capacities. From 2000-2010, he was the Assistant Director of Bands at the BOA Grand National Finalist Ayala High School in Chino Hills, CA. Concurrently, he began his tenure at Nogales High School in La Puente, CA where he worked with the marching band, concert band, and jazz ensemble. In 2007, James joined the staff at Riverside Community College to lead the wind program for the world famous Marching Tigers and serves as director of The Lab Jazz Ensemble and Community Concert Band. In 2010 James became the Director of Bands at Colony High School in Ontario, California. Here James directs the Titan Regiment Marching band,wind ensembles and jazz ensembles. In 2016 James accepted an assistant Professor position at RCC where he will continue his duties with the jazz and concert programs and serve as the Director of the RCC marching Tigers.

Moreover, the sum of such a career has lent itself well to the role of adjudicator and clinician, which he has also fulfilled during several marching band competitions and jazz festivals in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma,Seattle, Malaysia and Guatemala. James is an adjudicator for the Western Band Association (WBA) and a member of the Southern California Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA)

Over the years, James has had the pleasure of working with several Open and World class groups including Yamato Drum and Bugle Corps, Concord Blue Devils B, and the six-time DCI World Champion Santa Clara Vanguard. He has also held the position of Brass Caption Head at Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps and Esperanza Drum and Bugle Corps. 2008 marked the beginning of a new and exciting chapter as James' first year on staff at the eighteen-time DCI World Champion Concord Blue Devils. James is proud to be apart of six DCI Championships with the Blue Devils (2009,2010,2012,2014,2015, 2017) and three Jim Ott awards for Best Brass performance (2008,2010,2014)

James earned his Bachelor of Science in Business/Marketing from the University of Phoenix in February of 2008 and his Masters Degree in Education from National University in May of 2013. James resides in Eastvale, CA with his partner Sara their son Miles and their adorable dog Aki.

Todd Ryan

Todd Ryan began marching with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps in 1975 before becoming an instructor in 1982. Todd taught Les Eclipses and the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps until 1989 when he became the Show designer and Visual Caption Head for the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps, a position he held until joining The Blue Devils in 1994. Todd consults, writes and judges for various marching bands around the United States and is currently teaching and writing for Japanese drum and bugle corps.

Todd was elected into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame in 2012, recognized and revered as one of the finest marching and visual teachers in the activity.

Kevin Ronan

Kevin Ronan is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Performance degrees. While a student at ASU, he studied with Sam Pilafian, world-renowned pedagogue and co-author of "The Breathing Gym". Kevin also served on the instructional staff of the ASU Athletic Band Department for five years, where he worked closely with another one of his mentors, James G. Hudson.

Mr. Ronan works year-round as a music arranger and copyist. Proficient in Sibelius and Finale, Kevin has over a decade of experience in transcribing, arranging, copyist work, and preparing/engraving pieces for publication or distribution. On the marching field, bands performing his arrangements have been recognized as State Marching Finalists and Champions.

In 2018, Kevin will begin his 12th year as a brass instructor for The Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. Prior to teaching The Blue Devils, he was a member of the hornline and served as tuba section leader. Currently, Mr. Ronan resides in Lewisville, TX where he is a private lesson instructor at Marcus and Hebron High School.

Percussion Clinic

System Blue Percussion Clinics are for students who are enthusiastic about marching percussion technique and performance. The clinics are designed for beginner, intermediate, and advanced performers, ages 12 and up, and include instruction on snare, tenor, and bass. Focus will be on establishing solid technique and applying it to individual skills and ensemble performance. Specific content includes:

  • Extensive overview of Blue Devils technique
  • How to prepare for live performance
  • Exercises in creating consistency through technique
  • How to set proficiency goals and achieve them
  • Exploring improvisation in tempo
  • Exposure to diverse styles of drumming
  • Q&A session with Scott Johnson and BD drum line
  • Tips on how to prepare for an audition

One of the unique and most exciting components of System Blue Educational Events is the personal interaction with the instructors and former members of the 17-time World Champion Blue Devils. At select multi-day drum clinics, students will have the chance to observe and interact with the Blue Devils drum line.


Instructional Staff

Rodolfo Garcia

Loves chicken and waffles, enjoys quaint walks near sleepy creekbeds, and drum corps. Lots, and lots, of drum corps.

Brandon Gedalje

Brandon Gedalje, at the age of 15, began his drum corps career playing snare drum with the Concord Blue Devils “B” Drum & Bugle Corps (2008-2011). He continued on to perform with the Blue Devils “A” Corps (2012-2014). He served as section leader for both corps. Brandon was also a member of the World Champion RCC Indoor Drumline in 2012.

Not limited to competitive drum corps, Brandon Gedalje has performed as member of BD Entertainment since the inception of his drum corps career. He performed overseas with BD International in 2015 as well.

In addition to teaching System Blue Clinics, Brandon also works as an Accountant for a $7B Real Estate Investment Trust. Brandon enjoys journeying to new places, cycling, and photography.

Brandon Zackey

Color Guard Clinic

System Blue Color Guard clinics are for students who are enthusiastic about contemporary color guard technique and performance. The clinics are designed for beginner, intermediate, and advanced performers, ages 12 and up, and include instruction in movement, flag, rifle and sabre. Focus will be on establishing solid technique and applying it to individual skills and ensemble performance. Specific content includes:

  • Extensive overview of Blue Devils equipment technique
  • How to prepare for live performance
  • Exercises in creating consistency through technique
  • How to set proficiency goals and achieve them
  • Exploring improvisation
  • Exposure to diverse styles of choreography
  • Understanding and identifying performance quality
  • Q&A session with Blue Devils Color Guard alumni
  • Tips on how to prepare for an audition

One of the unique and most exciting components of System Blue Educational Events is the personal interaction with the instructors and former members of the 17-time World Champion Blue Devils. At select multi-day color guard events, students will have the chance to observe and rehearse with the Blue Devils color guard.


Instructional Staff

TJ Doucette

T. J. Doucette grew up in a Massachusetts drum corps family. She marched for 17 years, before teaching a number of drum corps and winter guards in the Boston area. In 1982, she moved to California to pursue other interests, but stayed connected to the activity working part-time with the Blue Devils "B" winterguard.

In 1986, TJ shifted to full-time work with the Blue Devils "A" Corps in order to return to school, and has been the lead equipment technician for the "A" Corps colorguard since. T.J. also worked with the Blue Devils World Winter Guard, the Blue Devils Twirlers Winter Guard, the San Marino Academy, Fantasia, and the Raiders World Guard.

Current projects include James Logan and Amador Valley High Schools. TJ has presented clinics in the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. Much of her travel has been to Japan where she has been teaching the Tokyo Renaissance Vanguard since 1998. She also developed two training videos for Winter Guard International.

T.J. received a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley in 1994.

T.J. was inducted into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame in 2017.

Esperanza Tovar

Esperanza"Espi " Tovar has performed in and taught color guard for the past 13 years. Upon Graduating from Madera South High School, she went on to a 4-year career in Drum Corps International, which included: Vanguard Cadets, Mandarins, Santa Clara Vanguard, Blue Devils, and Blue Devils International Corps. She performed for four years with the Imbue, a world-class winter guard based out of Modesto. She is also the director of the Colorguard for Fresno State University Bulldog Marching Band. As a cast member of Blue Devils Entertainment, she has performed in the pre-game show of Super Bowl 50 and has taught color guard clinics in Guatemala, Mexico, Taiwan, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Jacob Tortorete

A Corps 2012-2017
Color Guard Captain 2016 & 2017
Imbue WG 2014-2017

Educator Workshop

System Blue events for educators are relevant, content-rich sessions intended to be of immediate use to educators and their students. They are also designed to integrate seamlessly with System Blue student events so that educators and students are prepared to work more closely immediately at the conclusion of the event.

Each year, a slate of presentation is created based, in part, upon directors’ suggestion from previous years. However, directors are highly encouraged to contact Frank Troyka, System Blue Director of Education, with any specific requests for session topics. He will work to create an opportunity to address your specific needs.

Educator session topics vary by event and include:

  • Understanding staging and timing
  • Contemporary trends in marching technique
  • Show design for bands of all sizes and levels of experience
  • Effective training and use of student leaders in rehearsal
  • Strategies and exercises to strengthen the percussion section
  • Adapting the Blue Devils marching technique for the high school band
  • Effective rehearsal technique and pacing
  • The Blue Devils approach to intonation in the outdoor environment

Instructional Staff

Brandon Wickham

Brandon Wickham is an visual designer and clinician from California.

Since 2008, Brandon has had the opportunity to work with several award winning high school programs throughout California and the Mid-Western United States. From 2011-2015, Brandon worked as a designer and visual caption head of the 2011 and 2012 WBA Champion and 2013 BOA Grand National Finalist, Ayala High School Band and Color Guard, as well as the 2013 WBA Champion Upland High School Marching Band and the 2014-2105 WBA class champion Cerritos High School. After the 2015 competitive season, Brandon moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where he has since joined the staff of several prestigious high school programs including the Avon Marching Black and Gold, Ben Davis Marching Giants, the Center Grove High School Marching Band.

Outside of the competitive fall season, Brandon works with several different indoor percussion ensembles throughout the western and mid-western United States. Over the past several years Brandon has had the opportunity to work with the percussion programs at Ayala High School, Center Grove High School, Etiwanda High School, and Ben Davis High School, as well as a number of other scholastic A class and open class drum lines throughout the U.S.

When he is not teaching in the United States, or near home, Brandon works as a visual designer and clinician for several groups across the United States as well as international groups in China, Taiwan, South America, and England.

As a visual designer, Brandon has designed drill for several groups across the U.S. as well as marching ensembles overseas. Brandon’s work has been performed and awarded at several local and state competitions around the United States and has also been performed at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, IN.

Brian Dinkel

For over 17 years, Brian has been in demand as a performer, teacher, composer and arranger based in the Southern California area. In that time, he has performed with internationally renowned artists such as Peter Erskine, Alex Acuna, Tom Scott and the late Ed Shaughnessy. Brian attended California State University, Northridge where he studied with John Magnussen, Karen Ervin-Pershing, and Jerry Steinholtz. In addition, Brian has had the privilege of teaching and designing for some of the most highly decorated programs in the world.

Brian has been on the staff of the 17-time DCI World Champion Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps since 2009, and is currently the Front Ensemble Caption Head as well as Director of Front Ensemble programs for BDPA.

Since 2004, Brian has worked at Riverside City College, in Riverside, California. Currently, Brian serves as the Front Ensemble Caption Head and Designer for the internationally renowned RCC Marching Tigers, and as the Front Ensemble Manager for five-time WGI World Champion - RCC Indoor Percussion.

Brian resides in Tustin, California where he is the Director of Percussion at Woodbridge High School, and the Music Designer for Mission Viejo High School. Additionally, Brian is the director of the Southern California Percussion Ensemble Festival, held annually in Irvine, California.

Brian is a member of the Percussive Arts Society, and proudly endorses Pro-Mark, System Blue, Evans, Planet Waves, Meinl & Zildjian.

www.briandinkel.com

James Rocillo

Over the course of two decades, James Rocillo has cultivated a diverse curriculum vitae in music as a performer, educator, and competition adjudicator. His formal music education spans the campuses of Long Beach City College, Citrus College, and California State University, Northridge. Throughout the years, he has had the great privilege of receiving instruction from renowned trumpet artists Bobby Shew, Tony Lujan, Ron Stout, Sal Cracchiolo, Rob Roy McGregor, Bob Slack,Charlie Davis,Clay Jenkins, Kye Plamer, and Wayne Bergeron. Consequently, James himself has become an internationally accomplished musician and can easily shift between the genres of classical and jazz. His performances have taken him around the Pacific and back again, traveling through California, Hawaii, Canada, and Japan.

James' experience as an educator is threefold, instructing at the high school, college, and drum corps capacities. From 2000-2010, he was the Assistant Director of Bands at the BOA Grand National Finalist Ayala High School in Chino Hills, CA. Concurrently, he began his tenure at Nogales High School in La Puente, CA where he worked with the marching band, concert band, and jazz ensemble. In 2007, James joined the staff at Riverside Community College to lead the wind program for the world famous Marching Tigers and serves as director of The Lab Jazz Ensemble and Community Concert Band. In 2010 James became the Director of Bands at Colony High School in Ontario, California. Here James directs the Titan Regiment Marching band,wind ensembles and jazz ensembles. In 2016 James accepted an assistant Professor position at RCC where he will continue his duties with the jazz and concert programs and serve as the Director of the RCC marching Tigers.

Moreover, the sum of such a career has lent itself well to the role of adjudicator and clinician, which he has also fulfilled during several marching band competitions and jazz festivals in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma,Seattle, Malaysia and Guatemala. James is an adjudicator for the Western Band Association (WBA) and a member of the Southern California Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA)

Over the years, James has had the pleasure of working with several Open and World class groups including Yamato Drum and Bugle Corps, Concord Blue Devils B, and the six-time DCI World Champion Santa Clara Vanguard. He has also held the position of Brass Caption Head at Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps and Esperanza Drum and Bugle Corps. 2008 marked the beginning of a new and exciting chapter as James' first year on staff at the eighteen-time DCI World Champion Concord Blue Devils. James is proud to be apart of six DCI Championships with the Blue Devils (2009,2010,2012,2014,2015, 2017) and three Jim Ott awards for Best Brass performance (2008,2010,2014)

James earned his Bachelor of Science in Business/Marketing from the University of Phoenix in February of 2008 and his Masters Degree in Education from National University in May of 2013. James resides in Eastvale, CA with his partner Sara their son Miles and their adorable dog Aki.