2019 Drill Writing Season – A Retrospective

Now that I’ve wrapped up drill production it’s time to take a look back at this 2019 season.

This year’s clients:

As with previous years I try to offer my services again to previous clients to make sure they have their spots reserved on my schedule before taking on any new work. This year I had 8 groups take me up on this offer and I added 2 new groups to the mix.

I hardly advertise my drill writing services but some of my work seems to be spreading by word of mouth. So I had 2 new groups, from different parts of the country, that reached out to me about writing their drill. So big thanks to everyone who have been recommending me!

I break my clients down into 3 group sizes:

  • Large: >100 performers
  • Medium: 51-99 performers
  • Small: <=50 performers

Each season I like to take a mix of groups sizes, usually 2-3 large, 2-4 medium, and 2-4 smalls. This usually works out great for my schedule and doesn’t cause me to much crunch in the summer (my wife would disagree with this!).

Key takeaways:

  • This year saw a lot of my returning clients with larger groups than the previous years. This means that their programs are seeing growth which is a great thing for the marching band arts and music!
  • I had several groups (even the small schools) give me numbers early this year so I was able to get a good chunk of my drill writing done earlier in the summer!
  • I had my first client that tried using Ultimate Drill Book as a way to distribute drill. This was an interesting learning process for him and I. But, I appreciated his effort to going green and embracing technology as an effective teaching tool for drill.
  • This was the first year I fully used Pyware’s production sheet for all my shows. Gone are the days of me having to create a text box with on the chart with all the instructions. Now everything goes on a nice spreadsheet and each set gets its instructions, measures, and counts automatically added to the bottom of the page.
  • Rewrites… they are inevitable. While I know not every group will need them, there were a lot this year across multiple clients. I don’t mind doing the rewrites but there seemed to be more this year than in previous years.
  • While I had several groups get me numbers earlier in the summer, I had about 1 month gap where I had no numbers from anyone so I was unable to proactively write drill. This lead to a point where I had 3 clients give me numbers all at the same time and caused me to go into crunch to get them done in time for camp. I’m hoping to help mitigate this in the future with my production schedule.
  • Small/rural schools are starting to have harder times enforcing their numbers. I plan on writing a larger blog post about this soon.
  • I need to remember to leave one spot open in my schedule for that last minute client. There is one every year so I can better prepare for that.

Summary:

Overall this summer was my busiest. At certain points I felt stretched pretty thin but I was able to make it through. There are definitely changes coming next season to the way I approach drill. I would like to be able to compose during the summer again so I might take a few less clients. There are tons of great groups out there and I’m happy that I get to write drill for them. Good luck to all my clients this season and I’m already looking forward to next season!