James Elvord taught some of the very best horn lines in the drum corps activity, while providing insights on ways to improve brass judging that helped move the adjudication model away from counting errors (ticks) to an evaluative system. He pioneered and developed the system of adjudication used in SoundSport competitions during DCI national championship events.
While he was brass caption head and program coordinator, Madison Scouts won the DCI world
championship in 1975, and won the high brass caption award three years in a row in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Madison Scouts were also US Open champions in 1970. Since 1974, he has been a brass consultant with a dozen well known corps in the United States, Canada and Japan.
He was named a member of the DCI Hall of Fame in 1997. Many people he mentored are also members of the DCI Hall of Fame, including Dan Acheson, DCI executive director and Scott Stewart, former Madison Scouts director. Both are also World Drum Corps Hall of Fame members.
He has served on the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national judging panel; been DCI brass adjudicator since 1982; served as music adjudicator with Central States Judging Association and Bands of America.
While serving as brass caption head or consultant from 1968 to 1980, he worked with Madison Junior Scouts and Explorer Scouts, Capitolaires All Ladies, Chicago Cavaliers, 27th Lancers, Santa Clara Vanguard, Colt 45s and Erie Thunderbirds. His drum corps activity began when he played French horn with Madison Junior Scouts in 1962 and 1963, then French horn and baritone with Madison Explorer Scouts until 1970.