Richard Hinshaw’s Journey Up the Ladder of Drill Design

Richard Hinshaw’s journey to drill design was paved with many steps — he ventured into a few different career paths until he realized the line of work he was most passionate about was undoubtedly, visual design.

He grew up in a small town out of Central Indiana. His high school band program really embraced the marching arts, exposing him to world class drum corps at a young age. While performing in state championships, watching DCI on PBS every year, and traveling to watch high-end groups perform, Richard continued to gain deep interest in the marching arts.

Although he was enamored in music and performing, Richard had always imagined his career would revolve around history, social studies, and the law. So, he attended Xavier University in Cincinatti as a history major. While in school, he decided to fulfill a dream he long had and joined the Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps. Richard fully intended on marching for just one summer… But after that first season, he was hooked.

When he began dabbling in drill writing and teaching small bands throughout the summer, he was able to experience his passion from a different perspective — the design side. Richard transferred to Indiana University to study Music Education but shortly thereafter, realized he did not want to be a band director… He wanted to fully commit to visual design.

Richard now has 19 years of experience as a full-time drill designer. For the past 18 years, he has worked with 3-time Grand National Champions and 13 straight top three placements of Bands of America, Avon High School Marching Black & Gold. He is also the drill designer and lead visual instructor for Avon’s Indoor Winter Percussion, WGI Scholastic World Finalists for the past seven consecutive years.



He has worked with Gateway Indoor Percussion and each year Richard was on staff as Drill Designer, they ended the season as WGI PIW Finalists. He was the staging designer for the 2017 and 2018 WGI Scholastic A Color Guard Finalists, Colerain High School Winter Guard and Drill Designer for WGI PSO Gold Medalists, Sparkman High School. He has written for The Colts Drum and Bugle Corps and is currently the Drill Designer for The Cavaliers and Visual Designer/Program Coordinator for Monarch Independent Percussion.



Richard attributes much of his success to the group of mentors who guided him up the design career ladder such as Daniel Wiles, Leon May, Michael Raiford, Michael McIntosh, Don Click, and Jay Webb — some of which he still works with today.

His mentor, Leon May, introduced Richard to Pyware in 2001 when they were both working for Phantom Regiment. He would watch and learn as Leon used the software and eventually, he purchased his own license. Pyware does a have a steep learning curve, but Richard found a way that expedited the learning process for him — a practice method he encourages all aspiring designers to use.

“I cannot stress enough to take high-end, world class shows and transcribe them for new math,” he said. “That experience taught me not only compositional things but also the mechanics of the software.”

He consistently practiced and studied the software while Leon helped him book several small gigs. After a few years, Richard had mastered the program and has been using Pyware ever since.

“It is so cool that the software continues to grow with us; that is one of the best things the Pyware team has done,” Richard stated. “You all don’t stop. The activity is constantly evolving, and the software is too.”

As the pandemic has caused seasons to be cancelled and training postponed, Richard is hosting zoom sessions with many of the bands he works with. He has used this time as an opportunity to share his background with drill design and his experience with Pyware along the way.

“I show them the evolution of Pyware by taking drill from my website ( from back in the day with the early generation of the software with the red, blue and green triangles until now,” Richard said. “I show them the evolutions of my stuff, as well as Pyware’s and what the software can do now.”

Richard Hinshaw will be joining our Pyware Homeschool Master Class, TUESDAY JUNE 16th at 9pm CT to share his journey up the ladder of drill design. This is a great opportunity, especially for young, aspiring designers, to ask him questions and understand how he reached the level he is at today.

Click here to register for his Zoom session:

Make sure to have your questions ready!

Eric Robertshaw, Pyware’s Social Distance Drill Challenge Winner

Eric Robertshaw inspired us all with his work in Pyware’s first-ever drill writing contest, the Social Distance Drill Challenge. The panel of judges consisted of prestigious designers Michael Gaines, Tim Fairbanks, Kevin Nix and Bob Buckner. After reviewing all the submissions and selecting their favorites, the panel came to a consensus that Eric’s drill earned first place!



Eric is incredibly active in several avenues of the music profession. As his predominant vocation, he serves as a Master Hearing Instrument Specialist for Beltone Hearing Aid Centers. Eric is a freelance trumpet player in the NYC metropolitan area and a conductor of two community bands in New Jersey — Old Ridge Community Band and The Colts Neck Community Band. He also plays trumpet for the “Asbury Brass,” a popular brass band of the Jersey Shore.

For roughly 20 years, he has been a visual designer, writing for high school marching bands, drum and bugle corps, and indoor ensembles. Although Eric started his career hand-writing drill, in 2002 he shifted to Pyware and has been using the software as his sole drill design tool ever since.

“My experience using Pyware has been incredible!” he stated. “The customer service from Dustin and the entire team at Pyware is truly something special. The software continues to evolve year after year and I know when there is something I’m struggling with or just wish there was a different, faster way to do something, I can always reach out and get help.”

As seasons were declared cancelled due to the pandemic, our team wanted to present designers a competition to stretch their imaginations, practice writing skills, and explore different Pyware tools during this time of isolation.

“The Pyware Social Distance Drill Challenge was a lot of fun! Just like every other visual designer right now, I don’t know what the future will hold for our activity in the near future,” Eric said. “I thought taking part in this contest would be a great opportunity to learn a new skill.”

Eric discussed his approach to writing for this contest remained the same in terms of planning for effects and staging the musicians successfully. Although, he admitted keeping all the performers at a 6-foot minimum distance throughout the drill was not an easy task.

He said, “The challenge came in the actual manipulation of forms at a bigger interval than I would have chosen. Different design choices had to be made and a lot of refinement went into making sure everyone would be at a safe distance.”

The competition gave Eric the opportunity to practice using more animation within the color guard, as well as choreography in the winds and the percussion — techniques he does not ordinarily have much time to focus on.

The Pyware team was thrilled that our first drill challenge proved to be a fun way for designers to test their creativity and exercise their skills with Pyware, especially throughout this unconventional time. We also want to thank our judges for taking the time to be a part of the challenge!

Eric said, “I would like to thank Pyware for bringing in an incredible panel of judges. I was truly humbled by their feedback.”

We asked Eric if he would be interested in participating in another Pyware Drill Challenge… He responded, “Absolutely!”

Well, good news! Our team has decided to host another competition. Details to be announced soon!

Congratulations, Eric Robertshaw, for earning first place in Pyware’s very first drill challenge!