Member’s Journal – Let the tour begin!

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13 June 2007
Wednesday, 10pm
Abingdon, VA
We’re finally on tour! Monday was the last full day of all days- it made up for my horrible Sunday performance. I marched and played to the very end of the show with ease. I spent all evening up until lights out packing for our departure Tuesday night. I was expecting another long day of rehearsal, but we stopped 10 minutes to noon to clean the stadium. We had an hour long corps meeting after lunch, discussing rules about tour, cell phones, etiquette, etc. Since I’d already packed, I loaded my horn and shako on the equipment truck and took the afternoon to relax. I read the rest of the book I bought on Sunday. After dinner, I went to get ice cream with some other mellos and trumpets. I found a packet called "Backseat Driver" at TCBY Treats and picked it up. Right before I was going to put my luggage by the bus, we were told to go back and clean the dorm. I found a color guard stressing out about packing all her stuff, and went through her room, figuring out ways to reduce the space she would take up on the bus. I also gave her some bungee cords, so she could hang things up. Finally, we were ready to get out of Jacksonville.

The very first bus ride was interesting- I tossed and turned, unable to find a comfortable spot to sleep. I then looked down by my feet, where my floor space had completely disappeared. I reached back in the dark to find the person behind me’s bus box pushing mine all the way forward. It’s little things like that on the bus… I have a bubble- please don’t pop my bubble. Around 2am, I decided to sleep on the floor, and slept soundly until we pulled into Abingdon, VA at 6:30am. We got four and a half hours of floor time before breakfast at 11. Visual and brass were back to back, with a 15 minute snack break inbetween. Ensemble ended when the sun went down. The girls showered in the field house; I was expecting warm showers- that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Girls were using the freezing cold hose, instead of the Antarctic showers. People were screaming and running before going to dry off. It was a mad house. Tomorrow is rehearsal day number two before we leave for our next housing site.

15 June 2007
Friday, 10:50pm
Springdale, MD
Two more rehearsal days down- no more to go (at least until Monday)! On Thursday, we woke up around 7 or 8am for breakfast; the schedule was switched up a bit – brass in the morning and visual in the afternoon. We had two high schoolers watching us during the Breathing Gym, and one of our techs invited them to join. They experienced the ‘highs’ of air. The rest of the day ran smoothly, though halfway through ensemble, as we worked on the ballad, a nasty line of storms threatened. We bailed to the gym. We were told to start rolling up our stuff until further notice and a half hour later our corps director came in and said the weather radar didn’t look good. We were to continue packing up and eat dinner. Instead of leaving at 9pm, we shot for 8pm. During dinner, an ice cream man visited. I went out in the pouring rain to buy a SpongeBob popsicle. Later, when I took a shower in the functional girls locker room, it was still freezing cold- surprise surprise. The girls only had two working shower heads. My tour job is to clean girls showers; the other two girls and I had to wade through a flooded locker room. Then we were instructed to go out to the field house to check on those showered. We walked in and heard male voices. We left briskly…

The drive between Abingdon and Springdale was about six hours; we arrived around 3am this morning. We had floor time until 8am, and once again had a strange schedule. To make up for yesterday’s lost ensemble time, we had a warmup and ensemble block until noon. The field we used was a swamp, with clumpy grass. In the afternoon, we had visual and brass back to back again. We used a dusty field that became a sandstorm with every marching step. In the evening we had a second ensemble block- two full runs today! It was very hard to breathe by the end, with all the dust we’d kicked up. I felt like a dustball was sticking to the back of my throat. Tomorrow’s schedule is kind of crazy, too. It’s finally the Annapolis show! I took a sink shower, because once again we had cold showers…

17 June 2007
Sunday, 7:23pm
On the bus to North Carolina
We’re done with our first show and free day. Yesterday, for the Annapolis show, we woke up at 7:30am for breakfast, stretched at 8:30, and brass warmup from 9-10. Ensemble went until noon- we were marching and playing fairly well. I was so glad it was a show day and not a rehearsal day. The brass had until 1:30 to load buses and head to the show site for National Anthem Project rehearsal. I took another warm, sink shower- boo coldness! From 2-5 we rehearsed with other corps hornlines in the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. No one was in uniform yet, and I enjoyed the rehearsal. I met some cool people from the Crown and Bluecoats mello lines who stood around us. Dan Acheson came over to ask us how we were doing on the field. Well, we were told to memorize our positions on the field; Spirit doesn’t dress form technically, so we were joking around about what our dots were. We couldn’t hear the singers, with both the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, and other DCI corps playing. Coincidentally, the three corps with totally new uniforms (Crown, Bluecoats, Spirit) were lined up on the same side during the actual performance of the National Anthem. Spirit went straight into show warmup after that, as we were the first corps on for the 2007 season!

Warmup went very well, and the show itself was personally great – I walked off with a smile on my face. I only changed into halves afterwards, because all the corps would be playing America the Beautiful after the show. I got a chance to watch the Cadets show before heading to the buses to change into full uniform. Once again I talked to Crown and Bluecoats mellos. The lineup was a bit strange, because Crown is marching 16 mellos, versus Spirit and Bluecoats’ 12. One of the Crown mellos starting beatboxing while we were on the field. I honestly did not want to hear the scores announced; I knew I’d personally done well and nothing could bring me down. I will admit I was a little distraught after the announcement, but figured it will all work itself out by season’s end.

After getting back into comfy clothes, I felt very weird. This is the first year I’m not waiting on Crown and Bluecoats, to hang out with friends. Instead, friends found me. Spirit went back to our housing site for the night, and today I woke up at 8:30 to take a nice shower. I straightened my hair, and got to look like a normal girl. We arrived in Washington DC at noon for our free day. We had an hour to check out the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument, Vietnam War Memorial, and White House. It was exciting for me, because I’ve never been to the Capitol before. I took pictures of /everything/. Then we went to Union Station, where I had fun hanging out with one of my best friends for five hours (whoot shoutout from the girl who’s typing this for Michelle- I had an amazing time with you, too). I got dolled up in the Body Shop, and got a wonderful massage from a chair in the Discovery Channel store. I called home to wish Dad a happy father’s day, and now we’re on our way to Leland, NC.

19 June 2007
Tuesday, 11:48 pm
Leland, NC
Two rehearsal days down; one to go. We’ve been pushed mentally to retain things at a faster rate. On Monday I was striving to avoid the "Your head is still in the free day!" speech. We actually managed to do that! I was expecting the worse when we woke up for visual. Instead, we worked on extended step sizes backwards. I felt like I got a lot better through that. Who knew pushing the right foot would work? Brass was my favorite part of the day. We had over an hour of subsectionals; I was having a very good chops day, and we spent a majority of the sectional time on two impact points, but I felt we had become a different hornline through it. We got to listen to the field brass and GE Music tapes from Saturday. I enjoyed the field brass judges comments about the mellos. Ensemble was nice; the sea breeze from the ocean came in. I was excited for the full run and performed even better than Saturday.

Today, however, it was harder to wake up. Sometime in the early morning the AC went off, and the room was hot by wakeup. I had trouble concentrating in visual; unfortunately, we did the diamond drill that I loathe. We also learned a cool visual for a hold in our third movement, although I only had five minutes to learn the last ten counts of it. During lunch, my partner and I reviewed the body work. In brass, once again we went to subsectionals. Sometime in the middle of the block, our brass caption head directed us into the gym for 30 minutes, in the AC. I thought the staff must’ve been smoking something- who takes a half hour break inside in the middle of rehearsal? Us, apparently. We had story time until the caption head made the call to go ahead and have brass in that gym for the rest of the block. Apparently it was over 100 degrees outside, with no shade. Ensemble was strange, as we had an exhibition performance for a small crowd. I felt like throwing up before going out on the field. I was disappointed with my performance, and the rest of night, as we couldn’t play past 9pm due to noise ordinance, we did basics and worked on drill.

20 June 2007
Wednesday, 11:30pm
Leland, NC
This morning, we woke up at 8am, as this is once again all days. Since there was a prediction for 9 inches of rain, the schedule was switched up. We had ensemble in the morning. It was rather brutal; if we made a mistake, it was lap time. I completely messed up at one point, and before they could call me out, I took off running. I used my inhaler twice in the morning, but even then I couldn’t breathe halfway through the lap and wound up wheezing by the end. I used it again, but I don’t know if it’s a great idea to keep taking more. I’m mad at myself for messing up- I haven’t made such a mental break since my first corps season.

Luckily, one of our mello girls helped us mentally. She makes ‘worst-case scenarios’ during really bad rehearsal blocks. For example, an asteroid would hit the field, or cockroaches would come, or the showers would be freezing. Today’s scenario would be that we’d have three ensemble blocks. Ironically, at the end of first block, they announced we’d be getting back together at the other field for another ensemble.

Halfway through that block, it did start to rain, and we rushed the pit off the field, though we still got soaking wet. Brass spent the time on body work for a third movement hold. After that we did basics, working on backwards technique. Dinner was delayed; it was amazing, though. We had banana pudding, one of my favorite things, and I got seconds! After dinner we had a brass block, and played the same segment 17 times in a row, as we are unable to play the correct rhythm – we only got it right a couple times, because the focus just wasn’t there. Different people messed up each time, making it harder to improve. After that, we worked on gym cleanup, since we won’t have a lot of time tomorrow- the show site is apparently far away. After cleanup, we had more visual. I was exhausted, but pushed through it because, well, we just need to get better. Then yet another corps meeting was called, and we were all a little trepidatious- things haven’t been the most pleasant. However, we were surprised by a Wal*Mart run! I didn’t have any money, so I wound up standing in line at Subway for a friend, and she bought me food. Yay!

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 Thursday, June 21st, 2007. Filed under Member's Journal.