Member’s Journal – Final Drill Camp!

| |

Finally, the last camp of the 2007 season is over. The weekend was rather eventful and productive. This time I drove up to camp with my parents because I had to move out of my dorm on Friday for the end of the semester. My parents volunteered at a Spirit fundraiser at the Talladega Speedway while I stayed in Jacksonville for camp. This was the first time my parents ever came to a drum corps camp together.

On Friday evening, I arrived shortly before the first visual block ended. I looked over to see everyone with the new King horns. I grabbed the Kanstul mellophone I had been playing and checked out a brand new horn. I also noticed all the other mellos had different mouthpieces; the Hammond mouthpieces had come in too. I made sure I picked up one of those before standing in the brass arc. New horns and a new mouthpiece – it felt like Christmas. The best part was blowing in the King horn and finding out how much easier it is to project your sound. I could tell this weekend the horn line would be playing on a different level. I went to bed at lights out excited for the next two days.

On Saturday morning, we woke up for conditioning at 7 o’clock. We did the pilates-based stretching and then a decent amount of running. I was more prepared for this camp physically than the rest. My friend and I at school had been going to the gym two to three times a week to work out. We especially made sure we did the beloved plank. Doing the plank during conditioning was a lot easier, even though I still need to buy new shoes.

After conditioning and breakfast, the high brass went to visual. We reviewed the first 24 sets of the opener that we hadn’t touched last camp. The rest of the morning the high brass was in music rehearsal to warm up for the day and start reviewing the opener.

In the afternoon the horn line went to visual first. We put the last five or six sets of the opener on the field. We marched. A lot. Towards the end of the block, we did a full visual run through of the opener. I need to build up my stamina just to make it through marching-wise! In one of the last sets of the opener that we ran a couple times, I kept on nearly getting run over by a trumpet in the move. I hope I get better at marching that set so I don’t fall during the first show.

The next words I heard were to set up for a “short warm up.” By now, I know that “short warm up” = marching and playing rehearsal. We made it through about the first minute of the opener. Once again, I can tell I’m going to have to build up a lot of stamina just to make it through that because I was winded after the first 30 or so sets marching and playing.

After dinner, the horn line looked pretty exhausted. It’s not that the visual block was necessarily hard; it’s just that it was our first time running through things continuously. I know that by the every days, parts of the show that seem difficult at first will get much easier. We had a corps meeting to discuss part of Spirit’s history and the details of move in. Freddy Martin was actually the person telling us about Spirit’s beginning. We also saw the final edition of the new uniform that will be debuting on the field in June. The rest of the night we fine tuned our playing as a horn line. Most of the warm up was Freddy telling us how to approach playing with relaxation and letting the air flow. I was excited when we went to sub sectionals because Freddy was with the mellos as well as our caption head. I think we made great progress as a section despite not even having everyone there at the time. We got to play through Salvation, the opener, and the ballad when the horn line came back together. I don’t remember if it was Saturday night or Sunday when we sang Salvation, but I could tell some people were emotional the first time we sang through it since it is the “corps song.” It was my first time singing it since finals night in August. It made me think of that wonderful feeling I had after that last performance of the 2006 show. I can’t wait to move in to get this show on the road!

On Sunday morning, we once again had conditioning. I didn’t do as well as Saturday because of my aches and pains, but I still made it through fine enough. After breakfast we had a good brass warm up before going out to march and play parts of the opener again.

In the afternoon, the full time was devoted to the music. We did more detailed work on the ballad, and I found out I do get to play in the brass quintet in it. Putting the ballad together with the percussion was interesting because the whole turmoil vs. calm in the music made much more sense. I have a better idea of where the third piece in the show must be heading. At the end of camp, we did the traditional “show and tell” by playing the ballad and opener. The color guard also did a routine that they’d been working on. Everything went over very well. The brass sounded so much better; I can’t describe it in words how things have improved. Come to a show and find out for yourself.

There are 20 days until move in now. I have to buy new luggage, new rehearsal clothes, and possibly a new sleeping bag or air mattress. I have to fly into Atlanta because driving there takes a little too long for my patience and attention. I have decided that I am bringing my French horn on tour. It’s not that I want to take up more space under the bus with my gear; it’s that I have things to practice with an expected two juries in the fall and spring semesters next school year. I’m thinking about entering the French Horn I&E with a prospective jury solo just to force myself to practice over the summer during my limited down time. The next time I will be writing will be after a week or two of move in. I think it will be a wonderful summer regardless of what happens.

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 – 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.

Posted by on Monday, April 30th, 2007. Filed under Member's Journal.