Member’s Journal – February [Drill!] Camp
Camp this weekend went by very quickly. On Friday night, I arrived a half hour before sectionals ended because my friend and I couldn’t leave Tallahassee until 5:30 due to a class. She has a thermometer in her car we watched drop from the low 50’s in Florida to the high 20’s as we pulled into Jacksonville, AL around 11 at night. I didn’t expect such a chill because I was wearing gaucho pants and flip flops – bad idea! The only thing I did do on Friday was receive a drill number. Just like last year, I got the second mellophone drill spot, except I’m not longer M13. At night I had the worst time sleeping. Being back in Mason Hall, the girls were in the band room where not all the lights go off. I couldn’t get comfortable.
On Saturday morning it was still very chilly outside. We did conditioning inside with palates-focused stretching. I found some of the moves hard to do. I guess I have to build up more abdominal strength before the summer to cut it. After breakfast the high brass and low brass split up. The high brass went to visual first while the low brass went to music. With the high brass, we did basics for about a half hour before diving into our drill for the opener. I think it was quite a feet that we’re doing drill this early in the game. We put eight sets on the field in the morning. In music, the high brass just warmed up to get ready for playing the rest of the day.
In the afternoon the full horn line went to visual. We once again did some basics before putting more drill on the field. By around 3 we had 14 sets on the field. I’m hauling butt at my first step off; a 4 to 5 backwards! The tempo is in double-time, making it feel like 160 before accelerating to 180. I have no idea what the forms look like from up top. We didn’t march and play because we literally received the full opener music two days before camp.
In music we went to sub sectionals. We didn’t have a lot of time to do detailed work on the opener, but we did get to hear the mp3 of the source music. It was much nicer to listen to than the midi file sent to us the week before camp. I could tell the mellophones have the bulk of the melody throughout. Last year I felt like we were more in the background harmonies or being doubled by another voice. This year it’s a more “in-your-face” mello book. When the horn line came back together we didn’t get to play a lot of the opener before going to dinner.
In the evening everything was devoted to getting through the opener. We had a longer sub sectional. I thought it was very productive. The book is not so challenging that it’s inaccessible, but at the same time it’s a step up from last year. There are syncopated rhythms everywhere with off beats feeling like the on beat. I started to try to connect the visual with the music. However, I haven’t had a chance to mark everything in. When the horn line came together as a whole to chunk the opener, I was surprised how much I ended up enjoying the music. I think I came in skeptical with the midi file. Now I love all of the harmonies and melodies on top. I went to bed on Saturday exhausted and excited to put the opener together with the percussion. That night I got my act together and slept underneath a xylophone in the band room to block out the lights that won’t go off. I don’t think I woke up once in the middle of the night.
On Sunday morning I had trouble waking up because I was very comfortable in my sleeping bag on the floor. Conditioning was still inside because of the cold outside. I had a little more trouble doing the stretches. My lips looked slightly swollen from playing even though I used DCT.
When breakfast was over, the full horn line went outside to do visual. We put four more sets of the opener on the field. We did a full run of what we know a few times. I’d really like to know what the forms look like. All I have to go off of is a coordinate sheet. I need to get a dot book for next camp. I made sure I wrote in all the instructions on the piece of paper I did have so I’m ready to go. The rest of the morning we warmed up for ensemble in the afternoon.
After lunch the horn line chunked through the opener again, pushing more of our volume. We half-valved a couple notes to use more air and to crank more power. I’m excited about the improvement we made from the beginning of camp to near the end. It was amazing, especially when the percussion came together to do ensemble with us. They recorded what had been written so far to send to away for creative thoughts. I was able to check out a mellophone. I can actually practice my music now. It was my first time staying until the end of a Spirit camp. If we have part of the opener on the field now, who knows how far ahead we can be by move in. Camp went by quickly because of how productive it was. I wasn’t too sore afterwards, but I definitely wanted to curl in bed and go to sleep when I got home.
Publisher’s Note: Michelle is a member of DCI Division I corps Spirit of JSU, a music education major at Florida State University, and a member of the DCP Forum Support Team. Member’s Journal is a regular feature column of DrumCorpsPlanet.com – 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. Our thanks to her and the Spirit of JSU staff for helping make this column possible – and all the members of Spirit of JSU for a great season.