Member’s Journal – First Week of Everydays
20 May 2007
I have just setup camp in the dorm. This year Spirit is staying in Curtiss Hall, right across from Paul Snow Stadium. The girls are on the third floor, meaning I had to carry up a mellophone, horn, big rolling duffel, and my smaller duffel. There is no elevator here. None of the dorms have elevators. It will be easier to transport everything during the summer. Somehow I got away with not getting charged extra at the airport. I checked my horn at the gate instead of the front desk. So far nothing appears damaged. I’m just glad I got everything back in one piece. We start rehearsal at six. My schedule says we are doing conditioning at night… I’ll see how I like that. I’m exhausted from living off of three hours of sleep, I might as well take a nap now!
20 May 2007
The first rehearsal block went really well. I love the vibe from everyone here. I know it’s barely been a day, but I think good things are happening. It’s surprisingly cool, it’s supposed to stay fair weathered for the remainder of the week – I think this weather is nice compared to South Florida. The music rehearsal could have been better, but things will come together once everyone’s on the same page. Our everydays schedule is amazing. We get to wake up whenever we want, as long as we’re eating breakfast and make it to the first rehearsal block on time (in my case, early!). I’m going to wake up at eight every day, because I do things like fill my water bottle the night before, to leave plenty of time to make the 9am start.
21 May 2007
Today was the first full day. When they were knocking the doors to wake us up, I held mine open – I hate that sound! My roommate and I went back to sleep for fifteen minutes. Oddly enough, we were ready to go to rehearsal early. After breakfast, we had a lighter stretch and Pilates routine than expected. In the basics block I tripped over myself and fell down during jazz running. I got right back up, surviving with only a knee scratch. My mello had hit the ground, but I didn’t see the dent until we started drill. I felt horrible about it, especially since it was my own fault! In brass we spent a majority of the time blending. We didn’t work on the show music until the last 45 minutes.
I ate a big dinner – two plates of spaghetti and salad! In ensemble, we marched and played the first part of the opener, and also did a musical run through of the ballad. I felt just as bad as when I dented my horn when I had to tell another mello that I was playing in the small ensemble (they missed last camp). I would go back and let them have the drill coordinate if I could. I still have three years; this is their ageout. I don’t know what I can do about it. I’m a sheep… I’m only following what I was told. The final portion of the night, we had intense basics block instead of running. It wasn’t too horrible- now it’s time for bed!
22 May 2007
Today dawned on a much better note than yesterday. I woke up in a good mood and I didn’t bother holding the door open when they knocked to awake us. I put my pillow over my ears and woke up to my cell phone alarm instead. At breakfast, they had two toasters hooked up to an electrical unit – I was thrilled with two pieces of toast with crunchy peanut butter on them. Stretching/conditioning was even more bearable. I still don’t enjoy leg circles, though! It pops my legs out of their hip sockets. The basics block broke down the backwards technique. I felt I improved, especially with my step-size accuracy. During drill, we worked on another part of the opener. For me, it is the most difficult section, with lots of backwards momentum.
At lunch, I checked out another mellophone, that is not dented. I felt much better with it. In brass we introduced the concept of ‘bopping’. I’ve done it previous years, and as a whole we made our time and note accuracy greater with it. In ensemble, we marched and played the drill sections we covered yesterday and today. By the final run-through I was a little winded- that’s not even the whole opener! The rest of the night, we worked on two specific drill sets, and also on timing and technique at fast tempos moving forward. We keep improving- I love it!
24 May 2007
Yesterday we covered the low brass feature in visual and began the ballad drill. It was a very productive day, though very busy. In brass, our caption head had to leave to perform in Atlanta. Freddy Martin showed up to help us out. The mellophones were lucky enough to have a sub sectional with him. We worked on immediacy of sound and sufficient air stream. Freddy passed out balloons to the horn line. We put the balloons on our mouthpieces. It was amusing when the air came out of the balloons. It made a whistling noise out of the trumpets and mellos. In ensemble we put together 53 sets of the opener; it was quite exhausting. I couldn’t breathe by the end. Before lights out, I called my friend from Crown only to discover she was on her way home because her foot was bothering her. Last year she broke it on tour, and it never healed correctly; she didn’t want to take the chance of any more damage. Now I’m the only one from my group of friends on tour now.
24 May 2007
Today was the day where everyone hit a mental block. It is usually the fourth full day when everyone hits it, and we certainly hit it. My block mostly affected my chops. Throughout the day it got harder to play. The good news is that all 62 sets of the opener have now been put together both playing and marching, and we have 20 sets of the ballad on the field, but we haven’t put together drill with music yet. My section leader has been telling us to be enthusiastic about our section mascot: Randall the Rhinoceros beetle. We each will take care of Randall for a week, as there are 12 weeks in the summer and 12 mellophones- I’ll get him the week before finals. The drum majors are trying to steal Randall!! While setting the ballad drill at night, we saw JSU’s football team having a banquet. It was very distracting, especially as we were all hungry.
25 May 2007
Today was awesome. In visual we set the rest of the ballad drill, followed by a full run of the show thus far, air-in-valve. I wasn’t as exhausted at the end as expected- that’s a good thing. So far the food from the food truck has been superb – we had beef stroganoff for lunch, mmm…. The hornline sounded sweet in brass, especially as we worked on releasing together. Unfortunately, the mascot game took a turn for the worse, when one of the drum majors managed to steal Randall. We got him back at ensemble when one of the mellos ran and grabbed him out of the drum major’s backpack during a water break. During ensemble we ran the opener and ballad, Spirit has never done that this early. I had a horrible brain fart in the opener and missed a set; I quickly ran back to my place. I’m looking forward to Sunday, when we’ll do this for the alumni, family, and friends.
27 May 2007
It smelled like smoke when we woke up this morning. Apparently there are brush fires in Georgia. It was hard to breathe during visual block. During lunch, there was a little boy playing a pocket trumpet. He was adorable as he tried to imitate his dad played Carnival of Venice on a trumpet. The little boy did horn moves and standbys as his dad called them out. At the afternoon brass block, it was too difficult to concentrate with the smoke in the air. We didn’t make as much progress, musically, as yesterday, but we did get the third movement, which is an original composition. The mello part is very odd, with accidentals everywhere, and weird interval leaps. I was relieved when we sat down to play it. For dinner we had yummy quesadillas and the new souvies were on display. I put duct tape over my dot book and drew two deltas on it. Ensemble seemed to last forever – the last chord of the opener was the loudest it has ever been. It was rewarded with cheers from our growing audience. Tomorrow – well, today, is the day we’ve been looking forward to all week.
27 May 2007
Today was pretty awesome. We got to sleep in until 10am. We had eggs, bacon, and cake for brunch. Yum! Rehearsal started at 11; it was very hot and bright with the sun beating down on us. The brass warmed up in the end zone and we did a short basics block in the middle of the field. Unfortunately, our surroundings were distracting. Between the Dr. Beat hits, we could hear the pit warming up with a gock block, and the guard moving with claps. We were frustrated, but finally the whole corps came together for an hour of ensemble. We had an even bigger audience than last night. We chunked through the opener and ballad and eventually did a full run. At 1pm, we went to the annual BBQ with the family, friends, and alumni. I also polished my horn before we went back out to the field at 2:30. We had another short brass warmup.
At 3, we set up for the performance of the opener and ballad for our audience. We made a backfield arc and played through “Salvation is Created.” The full run went very well. We finally had applause and even a standing ovation, instead of the staff calling people out from the box! At the end we made another arc to play through our corps song twice. Everyone had a great time, and we had the rest of the day off. I went out to eat with another mello girl and her mom, then we went to see Shrek 3 at the movie theater. Ironically, last year’s horn sergeant was working the box office. I accidentally held up the ticket line by talking to him. I also saw the visual staff come in, plus trumpet section leader. It seemed Spirit was taking over the movies! Afterwards, we made a Wal*Mart run. I can’t believe how much progress we’ve made in one weeek. One hundred sets- half the show- marching and playing- wow!
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.