Drum Corps Diary 2010: A Rough Day

3rd entry in this Summer 2010 series

Today was definitely an exhausting day but in the end it was well worth it. The day started off with the usual stretch block with the horns and battery, but about halfway through that I had to go get refitted for my uniform jacket. I had only worn my jacket a few times because I wasn’t in the first 4 shows and it was a little tight. Every time I brought my horn up, one of the buttons holding the baldric in place would come undone. The fitting went pretty quickly–the uniform lady is good at what she does and gets us in and out so we can rehearse.

From there I went straight back to the field. The horn line had just finished up stretching and was forming the basics block, so I had gotten there just in time. We learned a new marching exercise, which I really enjoyed. The exercise worked on hitting your dot while still guiding to the form, which we do in the show. The exercise also translated well into the next part of rehearsal, drill cleaning, which is pretty much the same concept.

The morning block went pretty well, we cleaned a lot of the closer and it was looking a lot better now that everyone was paying more attention to their guiding responsibilities rather than just going to their dots. We finished off the block with a run of the closer, which maintained the things we had cleaned, so the block was a success.

After that we had lunch for an hour, nothing really eventful, just ate quickly and went to set up horn arch early. Today was the first day that our brass caption head Brad Davis was back. He had been go for a week or so, I am really not sure of days anymore–drum corps makes it really difficult to know what’s going on out there in the real world.

Tuba Time

We warmed up like usual and then went into sub sectionals. Our tuba tech is Brandon Johnson, but he has been gone, so Eugene Fabiero is taking over in his absence. After meeting this guy once he made me want to play tuba. He is one of the coolest techs that I have ever had, and our section sound has grown tremendously since has been with us.

His trick is to just work on the basics; we spend most of our sectionals playing long tones in the lower register as well as other fundamentals to build a solid foundation for us to play well. He wants us to become better musicians so that the show music is cake; and when we leave the corps at the end of the summer we will have grown. I can literally go on and on about what I have learned from him in such a short amount of time.

The last couple minutes of the sectional we put in a few musical changes in the opener and then we met up with the rest of the horn line to march and play the changes. After some time doing that we went into music ensemble with the battery and pit. Before that though, I found a little time to spread a rumor just for fun.

Heard it Through the Grapevine

The rumor wasn’t about a particular person or anything like that. I like to mess around a fair amount at rehearsal, and I thought that it would be funny to spread a rumor around the horn line–that at the end of the block we would be doing a full run of the show minus the guard. It doesn’t seem bad doing another run during the day, but we had just starting doing multiple runs in our full ensemble block two days ago, so it felt a little much.

Turns out that I spread a rumor I had made up, but it ended up being true. After working through some kinks in the alignment of the brass and percussion parts, we got some water and our drum major told us to set up at the top of the show. I was a little surprised and confused at the same time because I didn’t tell him about the rumor. As it turned out, we had to roll with the punches and put on a show as if there was a crowd in the stands and judges on the field.

After the show, one of the rookies in my section Dominic Pultz asked me how I always knew what we were doing during rehearsal before anyone else–which made me laugh because I don’t. A lot of times it’s just me assuming and making what I would call educated guesses, but he didn’t know that so I said it was my fourth year here; you learn a little something.

Persevering for Progress

After dinner we had ensemble rehearsal and the whole corps went into warm up for our ensemble block. After we had our re-warm we had a short break and then we were back in the field for our second performance of the day. That run was very difficult, my arms and shoulder were killing me, but thankfully the horn line only bopped that run through so it didn’t kill our chops too.

After that run we had another water break, then more rehearsal. We cleaned some drill and ended up having to align some stuff with the battery and pit parts with the horn line again. Ensemble goes by so quickly with the additional run of the show, and after working for what seemed to be a really short amount of time, it was time for our final run of the day. The corps was really tired but we pushed through and it showed in our run. Another day gone by, changes were made, things were fixed and we are progressing steadily.

About author

Robert Gagnon

Robert D. Gagnon is a student at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, Calif., working toward a bachelor’s degree in music education. He was the editor-in-chief of “The Legacy” yearbook at Orange (Calif.) High School. Robert has performed on a multitude of instruments including trumpet, clarinet and timpani with organizations such as the Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps and the Riverside Community College.

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