No 'Fear': How Claudia Taylor Johnson's Band Balances Competition, Art

As the mastermind behind one of the most dynamic bands in the nation, Claudia Taylor Johnson director Jarret Lipman is well-acquainted with the current clash of ideologies in the marching arts.

While some say bands should welcome a culture of competition like traditional sports, others want to check this mindset at the door and perform music solely as an art form.

In an interview for the upcoming FloMarching film "All Access: Claudia Taylor Johnson," Lipman explained how competition has become such a taboo subject in marching.

"I think there's a lot of fear in band that we're going to get over competitive and kids are somehow going to be devastated or that they're going to love music for the wrong reasons," Lipman said.

Amid these concerns, the idea of eliminating scores and trophies altogether in favor of organized marching festivals has even been mentioned.

However, Lipman feels CTJ and other marching programs can avoid burned out performers by finding a healthy balance between both mindsets.

"I think if we were not to compete our kids would still love music very much, and I don't think that's the only thing that drives them," Lipman said. "But I do think [kids] love to compete, and it's a part of what drives the sports culture."

"We love competitions like the Olympics and [other] sports. Kids are competitive about grades. I think we balance it out with a love for music and a love for entertaining but also a love for what we do. If you go to a competition, it's OK to compete to win, and it's OK to compete to be really good."

Ahead of each show, Lipman and the Claudia Taylor Johnson staff reinforce to the band that it is competing in an artistic world that is graded on subjective tastes -- sometimes the judges simply aren't going to like what CTJ puts on the field.

In those instances, Lipman stresses that his performers put their show in perspective.

"We talk a lot about competition at Johnson," Lipman said. "We aren't afraid to talk about winning. We talk about the excitement that comes with a win. We also talk about the fact that it's OK to be excited about pursuing excellence and pursuing winning. And we also talk about the sun is going to come up if you don't win."

Stay tuned to FloMarching to watch the first full-length episode of "All Access: Claudia Taylor Johnson" on Wednesday, Dec. 21.


FloMarching's hottest content, delivered to your inbox

Don't miss breaking news, feature stories, event updates, and more. Sign up for the FloMarching mailing list today.

Oregon Crusaders Will Not Field Corps In 2019

The front page of Oregon Crusaders' website is completely bare aside from three sentences:

DCI's Voting Membership Revokes Pioneer's Membership

Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps will no longer be allowed to participate in Drum Corps International after a vote this afternoon at the DCI Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN. They will, however, be allowed to reapply for Open Class participation in 2020.

DCI "Jannuals" Focus On Health, Wellness & Safety

This year's DCI Annual Meeting is underway with about 350 attendees meeting in Indianapolis, IN with a focus on health, wellness, and safety. 

DCI's Open Class Will Look A Lot Different In 2019

Since 2009, only three drum and bugle corps have earned the Open Class World Championship trophy: Blue Devils B, Vanguard Cadets and Oregon Crusaders.

Tarp vs. Turf: Comparing Indoor Percussion To Outdoor

Dan Schack is the Battery Coordinator/Choreographer of Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps and the Creative Director of George Mason University Indoor Drumline. Outside of his musical endeavors, Dan is pursuing a Ph.D. in English at the University of Delaware.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloMarching!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Rose Parade Welcomes Bands From All Over

One of the most coveted parades of the year, the Tournament of Roses Rose Parade, is only days away. Nineteen groups will perform in the 5.5-mile parade—ouch. The parade travels through Pasadena at a leisurely pace and often includes horses and floats among the marching ensembles.

College Football Playoff 2018: Battle Of The Bands Final Results

No one was standing in the way of Clemson's football team this year—or their band. After last night's win in Levi's Stadium, it seemed like it couldn't get any better for Clemson fans. But wait, there's more. The final results for the CFP Battle of the Bands are here and we have our winner: the Clemson University Tiger Band!

A Very Special Marching Arts Holiday Season Spectacular

It's the time of the year where you pull out your 2012 DCI World Championship finals DVD and annoy your friends and family with that iconic Cadets show "12.25." 

The 2018 FloMarchies: Vote On The "Best Dressed" Of 2018

It has been a crazy year, and it's just about time we celebrated all of the amazing performances that we saw in WGI, DCI, and BOA in 2018!

The 2018 FloMarchies: Vote On The "Best Fan Favorite" Of 2018

It has been a crazy year, and it's just about time we celebrated all of the amazing performances that we saw in WGI, DCI, and BOA in 2018!