Member Handbook

Welcome to the 2021 Mandarins

Membership in the Mandarins is a profound personal growth experience. We require your best effort, a great attitude, a total commitment, and both personal and financial responsibility. You will receive the same in return from the Mandarins.

Our MISSION is simple, yet powerful…
Transforming Lives Through Performing Arts

Our History, Our Philosophy

We celebrate our 58th anniversary in 2021.  The Ye Wah Drums & Lyras Corps’ first rehearsal was on March 23, 1963 and in 1967 our name was changed to the Mandarins Drum & Bugle Corps. The Mandarins are a Drum Corps International (DCI) World Class two-time finalist (2018 & 2019) drum corps and participate in DCI’s “Marching Music’s Major League” summer tour.  The Mandarins have taught thousands of young men and women the values of Respect, Excellence, Personal Responsibility and Service to Others — values which are carried through school, careers, and back to the community — with a true sense of purpose.

Competition is intense in drum corps, and it will be an exciting part of your experi­ence, but it is not our primary mission. We look at competition as a way to pace each other to new levels of excellence. You will learn that to be truly successful, you must first meet your own standards, and that the most demanding judge you will ever encounter should be yourself. We, as the Mandarins, are successful when we give you an environment in which it is safe to take risks, try new things, and experience amazing breakthroughs. You will find you are capable of much more than you ever realized.

We will help you set and achieve goals, and we will help you set new standards and expectations for yourself that will last a lifetime. You will find here a safe place to discover who you really are. You will come away from a summer with us more mature, motivated and self-confident, and with new, lifelong friends.

A key facet of our success is our consistent and committed teaching, design and support staff. Combined with tremendous support from our community and many volunteers, the Mandarins continue to grow and succeed.

We build the Mandarins one member at a time. We are committed to providing a positive, healthy and supportive atmosphere for you and your entire family.

Dear Member of the Mandarins,

Congratulations! You have taken a big step toward an incredible experience as a member of the Mandarins!  Enclosed is information about our program – what it offers and what it requires. The next step is to attend one of our Experience Camps:

Our preseason schedule is limited, so attendance in all activities is important. Attending part of an event is better than not at all. If you have conflicts, communicate with us. We will work with you, but communication is critical. You do not have to choose between school obligations and the Mandarins during the school year, but you must communicate with the staff early and often.

Membership in the Mandarins is an amazing experience for you and your entire family, but it takes tremendous dedication, hard work, commitment and personal responsibility. A life-changing summer of travel, achievement and success awaits you in 2021!

Yes, the 2021 season will be challenging in ways that we have never before imagined. That is a true statement in every aspect possible. And yet, I also believe that it will be one of the most rewarding experiences any of us will ever be a part of. You, the members of this drum corps have an opportunity to reshape the look, the feel, the heart of your drum corps. To make it more inclusive, more engaged and, with more equality for everyone than ever before. I also believe that you, the members of the 2021 Mandarins will re-define the who, the what and the why, of the Mandarins drum corps is for many, many years!

Finally, ALWAYS double-check the Mandarins Website, and Facebook Page for regular updates and or schedule changes.


JW Koester
Corps Director

You Can Be A Mandarin!

Young people ages 16 through 21 are eligible. (If you turn 22 after June 1, 2021, you are eligible for this season). Our average age is about 19 years old.

NOTE: DCI waived the age-out rule for the 2021 season, allowing members who would have aged out in 2020 to participate in the 2021 season. This is a one (1) year only exemption for 2021.

The majority of our members are from California, but many more come from other states, and other countries as well. We start the season as many indivuals and end the season as a single family.

Our member return rate is typically 50% or more. This is an important endorsement of the Mandarins experience. All positions are open, and will be awarded to the people who demonstrate their strong desire to be successful.

If you haven’t yet joined our Mandarins 2021 Member Group on Facebook, please do so now! And, your Caption Head will also want you to join your caption- specific Facebook page.

 We also use Slack to communicate once we move in for the summer – more details on the what, how, and when as we get closr to the summer.

Some of your best friends are here; you just haven’t met them yet.” You won’t regret being here! If you attend one of the virtual events nervous and unsure – GOOD! This means you’re normal. Everyone has had similar feelings at his or her first event and it can feel intimidating.

Parents Invited... Needed

Members! Please share this information with your parents.

We expect parents to have lots of questions and the best way to get the information you need is to attend with your student. Parental attendance is strongly encouraged in our activity.

The Mandarins program cannot survive without parent volunteers!!! We need parents to volunteer in a number of areas. Your help is appreciated during any and all weekend rehearsals, for any number of important tasks!

In any given season, many hours of invaluable volunteer time is contributed. Volunteerism is cherished in the Mandarins and is critical to our continued success.

Parents are invited to join our 2021 Parents Facebook page and our Fandarins Facebook page. On the parents page we share lots of corps specific information regarding tour, schedules and parent- specific information. The Fandarins page is a great way to stay in contact with the corps and the organization with pictures, story updates, and general information.

Participation in corps activities is a parent’s opportunity to see our program close-up and get to know the people who make it work. Also, your help is needed in the kitchen with meals for the weekend, work sessions in the Mandarins Music Center, uniform fitting, clerical help, sewing, vehicle work, and other special projects.

Cost of Membership

Member fees cover less than 50% of the over  $8,500 it costs to place one member on the field.  You will find Mandarins fees compare favorably to quality summer music and other camps, and to other top DCI corps.

We work very hard to keep membership fees as low as we can and still provide an amazing experience to all members. We are committed to keeping your membership affordable.

The corps’ costs include show design, music arrangement, instruction, equipment, uniforms, props, other performance costs, equipment repair, facility rental, camps, food, travel and transportation, and other administrative and support costs needed to field a corps at the International Championship level.

The $8,500.00 figure does not count the many hours of voluntary work and donations provided by parents, boosters and members. To help offset these expenses, the corps runs multiple weekly bingo sessions per week as well as other seasonal fundraisers.

2021 MEMBERSHIP/TOUR FEE: $3,850.00

Returning members receive a $100.00 Discount for each year that they have marched in the Mandarins.  This discount has already been calculated into your fees owed / paid.

Additional costs include an optional Corps Jacket ($75.00), occasional meals during laundry, free time, etc., laundry (each member does their own several times throughout the summer), and personal spending money (souvenirs, toiletries, free time activities – movies, subway, etc.)


Once you have received your offer to become a member of the Mandarins you must submit your completed CorpsData form, proof of date of birth, and medical release / background information.

And, you must pay your initial $750.00 Membership Fee / Tour Fee within 10 days of receiving your contract offer.   

NOTE: The initial $ 750.00 fee is non-refundable.  Only then will we secure your spot in the Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps.

Payment may be made on-line here, or can be made by cash, check (payable to Sacramento Mandarins), or credit card (Visa, Discover, MasterCard, or American Express) in person at camps. Please make sure you get a receipt.

Your Membership / Participation Fees & Tour Fees must be paid in full by June 20, 2021 before the competitive season begins. The monthly payment schedule is below:

Monthly payment due dates:

  • Initial payment $ 750.00 – contact acceptance
  • 1st payment $1,000.00 — April 30, 2021
  • 2nd payment $1,000.00 — May 20, 2021
  • Final payment $1,100.00 — June 20, 2021

NOTE: Returning members receive a $100.00 discount for each year that they have already marched with the Mandarins: 1 year = $100.00, two years = $200.00, three years = $300.00, four years = $400.00

All members are required to have all fees paid by June 20, 2021, prior to Spring Training Move In!

If you have questions regarding your payment account status, please contact our personnel manager, Samantha Oddo (her contact information can be found at the back of this handbook).

Although you may not attend all camps, you must still pay your tour fee payments on the dates indicated. You may pay online at the Mandarins website or mail your payment to the Mandarins, P.O. Box 22297, Sacramento, CA  95822. Write the member’s name in the memo section of the check.


If, for some reason you decide that you need to leave the drum corps prior to the start of the season (June 24, 2021 spring training move in), the following refund schedule will be offered:

  • Prior to May 1, 2021:  $500.00 will be retained by the corps for expenses incurred
  • Prior to June 1, 2021: $ 1,000.00 will be retained by the corps for expenses incurred
  • Prior to June 20, 2021: $ 1,750.00 will be retained by the corps for expenses incurred
  • On or after June 20, 2021: No Refunds Offered

In order to provide the best experience for members who seriously commit to the Mandarins, we regret that, if you do not meet your responsibility and pay your fees by the posted deadlines, you may be dropped from the Corps.

Returned checks will be subject to processing fees. If you have more than one check returned, you will be required to pay the rest of your fees by cash or credit card.

If you foresee any difficulty in paying your Membership / Tour Fees, please speak to JW Koester, Corps Director, as soon as you can. Do not wait until the last minute!

2021 Is A Changed Season

The 2021 season will require an immense degree of focus, increased dedication, tremendous perseverance, and the ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations. Everything that we do or, have done in the past will be reviewed and, quite possibly changed to adapt to our new environment. COVID-19 has forced us to revisit how we manage pretty much every aspect of the drum corps operations including:

  1. Our food services operation – no more self service for corps members and staff. The volunteer kitchen crew will serve all food portions.
  2. Interactions with each other – masks will be a requirement at all times.
  3. Our expectation is that we will develop a drum corps bubble with limited access to and, with the outside world. Laundry and “wal-mart” stops will be different as we work to minimize interactions with non-Mandarins bubble people.
  4. Travel – we will still ride buses wherever we go. However, how we manage our rest stops and fleet fuel stops will be different. No more go wherever you want to buy what you want.
  5. Rehearsal blocks will be managed differently as we will need to allocate more time for meals, transitions to different rehearsal sites and sleep time.
  6. At drum corps events – interactions with other drum corps, with the general public and, with family members will all be kept to a minimum. Why ? Because we don’t know where they have been, who they have been with or, their health condition. We simply can’t take the risk that they could infect us with something that could shut us down and end our season.

More Covid

Yes, COVID-19 has changed the way we manage the drum corps and, the requirements to participate in the 2021 season:

  1. Vaccinations are required for all participants of the Mandarins drum corps who will be onsite with the drum corps at any time, Yes, that means: corps members, instructional staff, design team, admin staff, kitchen crew, drivers, volunteers, support staff.
  2. All participants will be required to show proof of vaccination prior to being allowed “on campus” and interacting within the Mandarins bubble going into spring training.
  3. Daily temperature checks will be a part of our daily routine.
  4. Weekly testing will be required for the first couple of weeks and, perhaps later in the season once we start touring may also be required.
  5. Other safety protocals as determined by the corps director and the Health & Wellness team as the season progresses and, may be required by local authorities.

Enhanced Safety Protocols

For the 2021 season we have generated a COVID-19 Pandemic Safety Protocal Guidelines packet that the drum corps will utilze throughout the season to ensure that we are providing all participants with the safest experience possible. The packet provides the guidelines and information for how we will operate our food services program, how we will travel, how we will or, will not interact with the general public at public events and a host of other requiremrnts that All participants (corps members, instructional staff, volunteers, and drivers) will need to follow in order for all of us to experience an awesome summer!

Help in Paying Fees

The Corps has set up some ways to help you pay your Tour Fees. Please take advantage of them and make them work for you.

The Corps provides each member with sponsorship forms to help you solicit donations from family, friends, neighbors, social groups and businesses. They can also sponsor you by submitting donations using the Sponsor a Mandarin online form.  These non-refundable donations go directly towards your Tour Fees. Some members have used the sponsorship program to cover all of their Tour Fees. All Sponsorships must be turned in by June 20, 2021.

Mandarins Scholarships:
The Corps provides a limited number of partial scholarships to deserving members with financial need. Applications will be available in April (typically at the April camp.)

Returning Member Discount:
Returning members will receive a $100.00 discount for each year that they have marched with the drum corps. This discount recognizes both the contribution you have made in your Mandarins career, and the contribution we expect from you in terms of leadership and setting a good model of what a Mandarins member should be.


Kitchen crew is both hard work and a wonderful and rewarding experience. You will shop for, and prepare meals. You become an integral part of the behind the scenes preparations, and see how the members put together their fabulous shows. If you are interested , talk to the Tour Director, Keith Sanpei, as soon as possible (Contact information available at the back of this handbook).

Support Vehicle driving (pick-up truck, RV, or van) is a critical part of supporting the Mandarins. The trucks and trailers carry all of the members’ performance equipment as well as food supplies and cooking equipment. You will typically be driving with another volunteer driver, and you usually will be in a convoy of trucks and buses. Your ordinary valid driver’s license is all that is required. Contact JW Koester, Corps Director as soon as possible (Contact information available at the back of this handbook).


For the 2021 season you will need to provide the Mandarins Admin team with the following documents:

  1. Copy of your vaccination document. Yes, you know that you need to be vaccinated in order to participate this summer. And, we need to be able to confirm that you have been vaccinated. We will advise when and how to provide this document.
  2. Copy of your health / medical insurance coverage. Yes, you ARE required to provide your own health / medical coverage for the entire time you are with the Mandarins this summer. The Mandarins will provide you with some potential options to research in order to acquire your own health / medical insurance. We will advise when and how to provide this document.
  3. Copy of your drivers license, state identification card or passport so we know who you are and can verify your date of birth for Drum Corps International. We will advise when and how to provide this document.

2021 Season Schedule

Dates subject to change. Please keep checking our calendar on the corps’ web site, as it is updated as more information becomes available.

Mark these important dates in your calendar:

  • Camp April 24 – 25, 2021: Virtual (Full Corps, All Sections)
  • Camp May 21 – 23, 2021: Sacramento, CA area (Full Corps, All Sections)
  • June 24, 2021: Sacramento, CA area. Spring Training Move In (Full Corps, All Sections)
  • August 14, 2021 – Indianapolis, IN. 2021 Tour Complete.

Note: Meals and lodging are provided for all overnight camps.

The Summer Season

We will be in Spring Training for approx. 4 weeks and on the road for approx. 3 weeks, traveling thousands of miles through many states and performing to hundreds of thousands of people.

As we get closer to spring training move in (June 24, 2021) we will procide you with a list of the essentials that you will need for the summer such as: how many days to pack for (between laundry days), how many pairs of socks, how many pairs of shoes, bus box supplies, shampoo, tooth paste, deodorant, sleeping bag, type of air mattresses (that you can and, can’t bring) – single wide only, hats, sun glasses, non-prescription medications (aspirin. Tylenal types), prescription medications, phone chargers, etc.

And, yes, we will also provie you with a list of items that you shouldn’t or can’t bring such as: laptop computers (not recommended), cots (not allowed) full, queen or king sized air mattresses (not allowed). 

DCI Tour: late July through mid-August

Our tenative DCI tour includes perfomances at DCI sanctioned shows in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas and Indiana.  The season concludes August 12 – 14, 2021 with the DCI Showcase at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

NOTE: in 2021 the corps will NOT provide bus transportation back to Sacramento, CA for members / staff. All members are responsible to schedule / pay for their own transportation back to their hometown or school. The Mandarins will provide bus transportation to the local airport in Indianapolis (IND).

Mandarins Marching Member Code of Conduct

Mandarins Values

Respect, Excellence, Personal Responsibility, Service to Others

  1. Be on time to all rehearsals. If you are going to miss a rehearsal, inform your instructor well in advance. It is yourresponsibility to know when and where rehearsals are. Check the e-calendar on the web site
  2. Arrive at rehearsals prepared and ready to rehearse. Start and end on time. Know and understand the objectives/goals for each rehearsal. If you don’t know, ask!
  3. Swearing and abusive language will not be tolerated. Rehearse and perform professionally. You have the right to expect the same professionalism from the instructional staff.
  4. You are a role modelfor other corps members. Remember that fact at all times. Other corps members will act and behave as they see you act and behave. This role model responsibility applies at all times — on the rehearsal/performance field and off.
  5. Set high standardsfor yourself. Ensure that you know and understand the Corps director’s and instructional staff’s expectations for the year. If you don’t know their expectations, you will not meet or exceed them.
  6. Smoking and / or vaping in front of other corps/staff members is not acceptable. This includes rehearsals, performances, bus rides, and any other functions associated with the corps. Most of the schools and facilities at which we stay/perform are tobacco-free campuses. Please respect their regulations.
  7. Alcohol use is not allowed at any time. This includes at rehearsals, performances, bus rides and any other functions associated with the corps. Most of the schools and facilities at which we stay/perform are alcohol-free campuses. Please respect their regulations. A violation will result in dismissal from the corps.
  8. Illegal drug use is not allowed at any time. This includes at rehearsals, performances, bus rides, and any other functions associated with the corps. All of the schools and facilities at which we stay/perform are drug-free campuses. A violation will result in dismissal from the corps.
  9. Take care and respect your uniform, your equipment and your rehearsal/housing facilities. If something needs repair, please advise an instructor, a support staff member, or the director. No climbing fences. Leave the premises cleanerthan when we arrived.
  10. Treat other corps members as you would like to be treated. Respect their personal needs and requests. This awareness applies to rehearsals, sleeping areas, and the bus. Tolerance is paramount. Ensure that your relationships with others include no inappropriate behavior. If you have a concern with someone, please advise the corps director for further support or action. Hazing and bullying will NOT be tolerated in the Mandarins
  11. Stealing is not tolerated in the Mandarins. Taking property belonging to other people, the Corps, or to our practice/housing sites, etc. will be dealt with severely.
  12. Treat your Drum Major, sectional heads, instructional staff, support staff, drivers, boosters, othercorps, parents and fans with respect. Support staff, drivers, chaperones, etc., volunteer their time for your benefit; most of them work full time and often use vacation time for the benefit of the Corps. Treat them with appreciation and respect for the dedicated work they perform. When you need their help, be courteous and ask politely.
  13. Remember that any unhappiness or anger with other corps’ behavior is dealt with at the Director level. Corps members and parents may be tempted to log on to newsgroups and forums to complain about others, but this is NOT the way the Mandarins do business. Don’t dishonor the Mandarins’ good name by posting negative comments that can be interpreted as representing the Mandarins organization’s opinion. Don’t start flame wars, even if you think you’re right. If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say it. Staff is serious about protecting the Mandarins’ reputation.
  14. Leave nothing to the last minute. Plan ahead of time to get things done.
  15. You represent the Mandarins at all times. It doesn’t matter where you are — rehearsals, performances or other non-corps related functions. If someone knows you are a member of the corps, then you represent the entire organization. Make that action happen with pride and class!
  16. Failure to adhere to the Mandarins Code of Conduct could lead to your dismissal from the corps and a forfeiture of your Tour Fees.

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Other Important Information

Social Media responsibilities:

The Mandarins expect all members of the organization: instructional staff, members, volunteers and drivers to be responsible and respectful regarding all postings made on any / all social media platforms, ie; facebook, Instagram, twitter, blogs, forums, etc. Failure to maintain respect within those postings for the Mandarins organization and its members can result in disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal from the corps.

Whistleblower Actions:

The Mandarins have an active Whistleblower feature located on the main Mandarins web site where corps members, instructional staff, volunteers, parents, and drivers can go to anonymously submit a report or complaint regarding a concern or other issue relative to: harassment, bullying, hazing, embezzlement, safety related issues or inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature from one person to another regardless of age, sexual orientation or status within the organization. The Mandarins take this responsibility very seriously and we investigate every whistleblower submittal quickly in order to maintain the highest safely standards possible.

After completion of all whistleblower investigations a determination is made:

  • was there credible evidence of an incident?
  • was there no credible evidence of an incident?
  • was a crime committed?
  • was the Mandarins code of conduct violated ?

Based on the specific determination multiple actions may be implemented, up to and including dismissal from the corps and possible criminal reporting to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Yes, submittal of a criminal report may be required because the Mandarins are a Mandatory reporting organization. Yes, we are bound by California law to report any incident that breaks California or Federal law. And, it doesn’t matter where the incident took place, e.g.; in another state that doesn’t have the same laws as California. It doesn’t matter, as we are required to follow California law at all times, in all places.

All members of the organization are responsible to do the right thing at all times – if you know something, if you see something, if you hear something, you Must report it to a higher authority within the organization so that it can be investigated. Perhaps nothing comes of the investigation. And yes, that happens. And yes, if there is something going on it has to be stopped for the good of the individual and the organization.

The Mandarins Family

Thank you for expressing interest in the Mandarins. You will find a family atmosphere committed to excellence, success, achievement and support for you and your entire family. Contact us for anything you need to make your membership a reality.

Sacramento Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps
9792 Business Park Drive,  Sacramento, CA 95827

President and CEO – Dr. Dan Fong 
916-956-0948 •

Corps Director – JW Koester
408-921-6231 •

Assistant Corps Director – Santiago Sabado
530-545-9140 •

Kitchen Manager – Tyler Allin
916-548-0765 •

Tour Director – Keith Sanpei
209-518-7615 •

Corps Personnel Manager – Samantha Oddo
916-879-5434 •

Social Media Manager – Joseph Khalifa
530-314-9761 •

2022 Staff to be announced

Creative Director – 

Brass Arranger – 

Visual Designer – 

Battery Arranger – 

Front Ensemble Arranger – 

Sound Design – 

Visual Caption Manager – 

Percussion Caption Manager – 

Brass Caption Manager – 

Color Guard Caption Manager – 

Please also see our entire instructional staff listing, along with email links here.

A pdf copy of this Member Handbook is available here.

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