Drum Corps Diary 2010: My First Show

2nd entry in this Summer 2010 series

This weekend has gone by so quickly and part of me is glad that it is over. You would think after doing this so long that I wouldn’t be nervous for my first performance in uniform but I guess not. This week we had been rehearsing at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, CA and on Friday night we had our fifth show of the season–but it was my first. For a show day, I thought rehearsal was pretty hard; that was the first day we did full production runs before doing our actual run through, but we pushed through it. The show that night was in Vista, CA and it was where I took my first step onto the competition field for the 2010 season.

We arrived at the show site a little early and had time to shine our horns, eat, and change before we went into warm up. The warm up area was pretty far from the stadium; that never really bothered me before but things change. Whenever we get to a show site now I seem to notice how far the warm up area is and I dread the walk. After carrying my tuba in one hand for an extended amount of time my arm starts to hurt and that night I could barely hold my horn when we got to the gate. When we got there we went right onto the field and I remember the first note of the show being played and that’s about it, it went by so fast.

As we marched off the field, some of the vets in my section were laughing at me because they knew I was dying holding my tuba–but I was trying my hardest. My posture that night was terrible and I am sure anyone could see that I was struggling by the expression on my face, not to mention the fact that I had to use my whole body as leverage to hold the horn. Overall the corps had a pretty good show that night, but we of course still had work to do.


The next day was a very special day for all of us, it was our home show. That’s the show where pretty much everyone we know and everyone associated with Pacific Crest comes out so see us. The rehearsal always starts off the same that day, the corps shows up to the site a little early to number all the seats in the stadium–which only takes about ten minutes when the whole corps participates. After that we go into our normal rehearsal routine.

I thought the horn line had a productive day when we chose to focus in on what we were doing. During the morning visual block the horns did not rehearse well and I think that we let the battery down because they were working hard. The rest of the day, however, went very well, and the whole attitude of the corps changed during ensemble; we made some good progress. During our run through that day we wore shakos, which made me very happy so I could get used to it. It never hurts to do a shako run now and then.

After rehearsal we showered, ate, and shined our horns, then went off to warm up. There were a lot of alumni around to watch us and we knew what this night meant to them and they knew what it meant to us. When we took the field the stadium was packed and in the center of the stands at the top were our alumni, friends and families; this show was about them. We do this show to demonstrate what their support allows us to accomplish and that it means more than words can express.

To Honor America

After we performed our show we also performed an encore. We basically arched up in front of the pit and battery and played our show music as well as “The Way You Look Tonight” & our corps song “Ave Maria.” “Ave Maria,” is the song that brings everyone to tears and remains a part of us all. That was a great night and we even got to sleep in the next day before heading to the Rose Bowl for Americafest.

The morning started my day off very well. I went out to breakfast with my friends Cameron Land and Albert Godinez (both trumpet players in the horn line) before we headed off to meet the corps at Mount SAC. When we got there we loaded all of our horns and equipment underneath the buses and headed for Pasadena; we did not rehearse at all that day which was a nice change of pace. The show was at the Rose Bowl and all the corps there performed in exhibition. Our performance was ok that day but it definitely wasn’t representative of where we were as a corps this late in the season.

As we marched off the field under the stadium we had our corps meeting and then we had to wait around for the finale; an encore performance from each corps’ horn line and then a mass horn line performance of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” In the meantime we were allowed to use the restroom, get water, and wander closely around where we were waiting. I was having a very bad day and all I wanted was to be alone, which was virtually impossible in drum corps so I just had to set aside my feelings and go on with my day. The night turned out to be considerably more fun than I thought it would be. After the encore all of the corps went into the audience and watched the fireworks together. I have some good friends in the Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard, so it was nice to be able to hang out in uniform and just be with friends, regardless of the uniforms we were wearing. Great weekend, and I cannot wait to see where this summer takes us!

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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