We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan Nelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordan, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Simply put, the performers of Phenom Drum & Bugle Corps are the biggest factor toward any form of success I have achieved up to this point. These young adults work tirelessly day after day to chase excellence and improve themselves through the art of marching music. It is truly humbling and inspiring to be surrounded by such amazing people that will undoubtably go on to change the world around them. Without the dedication of these members, I do not believe I would be as inspired to create this platform for them to grow and flourish. Everything has come as a byproduct of the work these performers share with me and the world. So, they need to be recognized as the major catalyst for Phenom’s growth and success.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am the corps director for a pageantry arts group called Phenom Drum & Bugle Corps. If you are unfamiliar with this activity, a modern drum and bugle corps is a musical marching unit of 150+ members, consisting of brass instruments, percussion instruments, color guard, and choreographic movements. Typically operating as independent non-profit organizations, drum corps perform in competitions, parades, festivals, and other civic functions throughout the summer months. Participants range in age from 13 to 22 and have to audition to obtain membership positions within these groups. In my role as corps director, I oversee that the operations of the ensemble allow for the students to be at their most successful. This includes design and educational oversight, planning of rehearsals and touring schedules, and anything else that is needed to ensure the continued operation of the ensemble. My personal journey in this realm began just like many as a member of my high schools marching band. This led me to learn more about the drum and bugle corps activity and go out an audition. After participating as a performing member, it was clear that the drum and bugle corps activity was far more than just marching and playing music. It encompasses so many intangible qualities about life and growth as a person that I was simply hooked and wanted more! After my time as a performer concluded, I jumped into logistics, administration, and education for various groups across the country. All of these experiences brought forth new challenges and areas of personal growth that I wouldn’t trade for the world. However, the most important aspect of all of this was building my knowledge base to be able to create a new experience for Arizona musicians, and that was the goal I went in with when founding Phenom for the summer of 2014. The biggest takeaway I would want people to have is to simply learn more about the drum and bugle corps activity and what it offers for so many young performers across the country. Often being on the inside of any activity, you expect people to know about what you do, but we all know this is not the case. I have found that few people know anything about drum and bugle corps, so I want to do what I can to help educate people about who we are and why we are here! If people take away nothing else from this Shoutout, I would hope they would now have drum and bugle corps in their vocabulary and understand some aspect of the importance this activity has for the growth and development of thousands of young performers across the country.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I would want to take them through a typical week in the life of Phenom Drum & Bugle Corps. This would focus on educating them about what we do and why we do it, so they can develop into supporters and fans. Our rehearsal days run from 9:00am – 9:00pm (correct, that is a 12-hour rehearsal day!). In the mornings there is a focus on the visual aspects of what the performers do. This gets them the basic information they will need to create the formations on the field and march around at the highest levels possible. They will work these techniques until 12:00pm, where they get an hour lunch. When they return, they will get into some more focused music and equipment technique times, with the percussion, color guard, and brass getting into sectionals with their individual staffs. They will use this time to hyper focus on specific areas of growth needed in their sections until 4:00pm. They again will take an hour break to rest, recover, and get some food. Once they return for the evening, we begin to put together all the pieces the sections have been working on throughout the day. This is where you will see the full ensemble on the field working through specific chunks of the production to clean and refine how they perform. This process then repeats over the next couple days growing stronger and stronger every opportunity they get! There is truly nothing more exciting or rewarding than to see these young men and women striving for excellence in everything they do. It amazes me every day to see these people following their passions and igniting the airwaves with their music and movements, and it would no doubt be felt by anyone who witnesses these amazing performers. So, in addition to checking out a rehearsal day, I would encourage anyone and everyone to get out and see Phenom Drum & Bugle Corps perform when we take back to the field in 2021. You will not want to miss these performers. We will see you there!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wanted to recognize the umbrella organization that Phenom Drum & Bugle Corps operates under, the Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts. This organization supports multiple performing arts ensembles including The Academy Winter and Summer Youth Guards, The Academy Drum & Bugle Corps, and Phenom Drum & Bugle Corps which I am the corps director. This organization reaches so many youth performers in such a positive and long-lasting way that everyone should know about what AAPA does and also about the entire drum and bugle corps activity. The current crisis in the world has put a huge impact on the drum and bugle corps activity and our ability to operate as normal. As with many non-profit organizations this directly impacts our ability to sustain our operations, and during this time of crisis we need the love and support of everyone now to ensure we can continue to offer these life changing experiences to hundreds of performers each year. The more I can help teach people about why our organization is important and get greater exposure on this amazing activity, then hopefully they will want to support us through volunteerism, patronage at our events, and donations.