Dear Mr. Dallenbach
A long time ago I saw you and Canadian Brass perform in Lansing, Michigan; when the show was over, I gave you a hug because your music is what made me want to be a tuba player. I was very young at the time and now I’m twenty-nine and still play the tuba but so much has changed. In High School, I was in a band with a director that cared about normal functioning students, winning trophies, and money rather than helps the most vulnerable people in his band who struggled. I struggled with the ensemble and wanted to learn and be accepted by people who would respect me as a person with high-functioning Asperger’s who just wanted to be in a band because they wanted to learn music and to have friends. After High School, I joined the Flint New Horizons Band and unlike the High School band, there were people who wanted to have me there and supported me as a tuba player should be.
One of the tuba players was a man who I miss very much since I can’t be in that band anymore due to my parent's divorce. His name is Brian and he is the most friendly, funny, kind, and emphatic person along with our directors, Leo and Nancy who were worried about my playing at first until I got better and developed my voice as a tuba player through hard work and private lessons with my instructor Chuck Russel who taught me even through rough times and transitions from trombone to tuba at fifteen.
I wanted very badly to be a music educator to help people like myself and other special needs know that they can love music and learn to play despite their disability and not be treated as a token like I was in High School. However, it did not become a reality because instead of studying music, every day felt like torment because of the director at my community college who threatened me and discriminated against me because of my impairment. She made me feel alone and vulnerable, anyone who stood up to her was bullied and verbally assaulted, and on my jury, she threatened me all because I had a three-valve tuba and because I was not classically taught like most people. On the last day of rehearsal, she slammed the doors to the stage and locked them in front of me. My dean who is the kindest person saw that I was suffering because of her and told me to pursue a different major, but she also said that I could still love music and still play my tuba. This was the saddest and hardest decision I had to make and it led to me creating r/FlyingCircusOrchestra so that performing artists that are victims of abuse, assault, hazing, harassment, and discrimination have a platform where they can be believed and not be trolled for doing so.
At first, I was constantly trolled and harassed online by students and music educators; until thirteen brave young women came out to tell their story in the Philidelphia Inquirer of how they were groomed and assaulted by the director of Youth Education for the Arts director Gorge Hopkins and how they have turned away from reporting to police because of his status in the Drum Corps Hall of Fame. In Wisconsin members of the Pioneer Corps were neglected by their director and had an instructor who should have been in jail for pedophilia but instead moved to another DCA corps. Drum Corps International and Bands of America call themselves non-profit to make profits on young and vulnerable people who want to learn about the performing arts; imagine if it was your son that was hazed in a marching band, imagine if you had a daughter that was abused and assaulted by a director or staff member in a DCI or BOA affiliated group, imagine if a disabled or impaired student that did not get their needs met or are mistreated and assaulted because of who they are.
Now imagine a place for students where these things should never happen, where they have a safe place to go when harmed or hurt by another person and feel safe, where they can be themselves as performing artists, where they have a bed to sleep on at night, where they don’t have to rely on a packet for food or go on a diet, where they can learn about other performing arts they never heard about, and be able to create shows and ideas that inspire others and encourage a child to one day say, “I want to be a performing artist too”. I want that place to become a reality for all students of the performing arts no matter what their race, sex, disability, body type, or ethnicity and I want you to want the same thing for all artists.
u/MaryKMcDonald or Christina Bishop