Member’s Journal – April Fool’s Camp

| |

This past weekend (March 31-April 2) Spirit had our second drill camp. It was my craziest drum corps camp yet. I flew out of Florida in the afternoon on Friday and arrived in Atlanta for a connecting flight to Birmingham. When I arrived in Birmingham around 5 pm I patiently stood next to the baggage claim awaiting my luggage. About 45 minutes passed and my bags were nowhere to been seen. I had brought my sleeping bag and rehearsal bag as my carry-ons. I went into the baggage service center to report my lost baggage. These items included my corps horn, my running shoes, and all my clothes for the weekend. The airline said the items would be in later that night. I had to call the travel coordinator to explain my dilemma. I could stand back and laugh at the situation, but at the same time I was annoyed I didn’t have many necessities for rehearsal that night.

When I was finally picked up before 7 it had began raining. I arrived at the camp around 9 and had to check out an old JSU mellophone. I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops. I kicked off my sandals so I could do the basics block. Surprisingly I got complimented on my backwards technique, but I have an inkling it was because I wasn’t wearing shoes. My mellophone arrived back between 10 and 11. I got a ride over to the showers and feel asleep fairly quickly.

On Saturday morning we woke up to conditioning indoors because it was still raining outside. Some of the work outs were hard for me to do because I had not done them in a while. I will admit I’ve been distracted from doing physical exercise outside of camps because of schoolwork and my own job. I made it out of conditioning with sore legs and a hunger for breakfast.

After breakfast the hornline walked together to JSU’s stadium for the morning basics block. About 20 minutes into it I was called off to the side. I was informed that someone had told my dad that I have a high fever and should be sent home immediately. I was baffled because I felt perfectly fine. I found out later that day that there is more than one Michelle in the hornline, so I had to call my parents and insist that I’m okay. Later on in the block I tried my best to not get called out for bad marching technique. By having a year of experience elsewhere I have a good idea of my strengths and weaknesses as a marching member. Last summer I worked hard to improve my most outstanding fault: a fast internal pulse. This year I haven’t been called out once for fast feet. In fact, some times I’ve been called out for being late. It’s not a good thing per-se, but it shows I’ve relaxed instead of being tense all the time.

We began reviewing the drill learned last camp. For whatever reason I had a few brain farts, but I paid with self-inflicted push ups. The most critical person of yourself is…yourself. I’m especially keen on this.

Spirit does not have the food truck at camps because of the dining hall being open on campus at JSU and the location of many food places nearby. Lunch was an hour and a half and I went out to eat with the girls in the mellophone line. This has become one of my favorite past times at each camp because I’m getting to know people faster than last year.

After lunch we went to brass arc and worked a bit on the third movement of the show: Waltz of the Mushroom Hunters. It is technically demanding because of the tempo and dissonance at certain parts. I’m looking forward to the drill because there’s a choice to march the quarter note, the hemiola, or the dotted half note. If we march the quarter I think I’ll feel like I’m dancing. We were pushed to our limits as our brass caption head had to go to Birmingham for the afternoon for a jazz band concert. The trumpet tech took over emphasizing to play the dynamics to their maximum value now. In other words, why hold back? My lips were getting shot. Unfortunately, my arms started to hurt too even though I march the 2nd dinkiest instrument in drum corps.

We did some marching and playing to review the opener once again on the field. I’ve been donned the nickname “Squirrel” by a fellow mello because of my enthusiasm. It’s a personality trait I have, so I took the nickname light heartedly. It’s always fun when people forget your real name on tour and only refer to you by your nickname.

Before dinner we reviewed Georgia and Let it Be Me. I was ashamed of my performance of the pieces because of their high stature in Spirit’s legacy. I know I didn’t practice them enough, and went down right away to do pushups at the end. I’m coming to the next camp knowing those songs backwards and forwards because I want to be able to perform them with a sense of pride.

For dinner we out and had Chinese food. It was better than the fast food from lunch. During camp weekends I do watch what I eat because it’s not cool to come back and to have gained weight even though you’re doing more physical activity than normal. My fortune cookie said I should go out and party. How about not?

The rest of the night we worked on music. In the trumpet/mello sectional we got an informative session about the instruments. I had the chance to play a cornet mouthpiece plus adapter in the mello. It was much easier to hit the notes in the lead part than the Mello 6 mouthpiece while retaining its darker tonality. I’d buy one if it didn’t cost $85. By the end of the night I was in arm and leg pain. I stayed up a little later than Friday night, but made myself go to bed knowing we were losing an hour because of Spring Forward.

On Sunday I woke up and didn’t want to move. In visual I had more brain farts than Saturday such as marching in duple time instead of triple (hemiola). I tried to not get frustrated when I messed up. We did another brass arc until lunch, this time playing the third movement for the battery. My mellophone kicked my butt.

I could only stick around for another hour before having to leave for the airport during the afternoon block. When I was leaving the stadium with the other people going to the airport I heard the corps still doing marching and playing run throughs. I got the rush of stadium lights because it reminded me of the times of tour when you’re walking towards the stadium and hear corps playing. I don’t know why, but I like that feeling.

My flight home was successful, and I got all my baggage. Next camp is the last one before move in. This summer is going to be an amazing experience.


Publisher’s Note: Michelle is a member of DCI Division 1 corps Spirit of JSU, a high school senior from Florida, and a member of the DCP Forum Support Team. Member’s Journal is a regular feature column of – following the journey of a drum corps member thru rehearsals and the competition season … providing our readers with a sense of the committment, challenges, and rewards associated with membership in a corps.

Posted by on Sunday, April 9th, 2006. Filed under Member's Journal.