Drum Corps Diary 2010: The Beginning

1st entry in this Summer 2010 series

My name is Bobby and after a long year full of mistakes and life lessons, I found myself caught up in a “Maze” both figuratively and literally. Deciding to march this summer was the best decision I have made in a long time. This summer is going to be my 4th season marching Pacific Crest, the first three on trumpet, and this year (my age-out) I am marching tuba.

I should also say that the tuba spot I am marching was a hole that I filled about two weeks ago, and I did my first full run of the show tonight at rehearsal! I am so excited to be back on the field and to be doing it with people that mean so much to me. I still have so many things that I need to fine tune with my show, but the plan is to be ridiculous.

I can only imagine when I look back on my life that there will be things that stand out more than others, and I already know the years I have spent on the field will be some of my greatest memories. The strange thing is that I thought about giving up my last opportunity doing what I love to stand on the sideline and watch. Now I know every day why I love drum corps so much, and why I couldn’t give it up.

Getting Back in Shape

The past two weeks have been very eventful for me. My first day back with the corps, we started the day off with physical training, and I really wanted to throw up during the run. The sad thing about it is that we only ran a mile, and I was a vet. I should’ve been at the front of the block, but I was so out of shape.

That was a rough day, especially when I picked up my horn for the first time. It was so heavy, and I really hated my friends for convincing me to march. Thankfully we were learning closer drill that weekend, so most of the time I didn’t even have my horn with me, but when I did, I wasn’t marching the horn, it was definitely marching me.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted. For the next five days I had never been so sore in my entire life; my body ached just sitting down and even more when I had to stand back up. Needless to say things got easier, at least in terms of my ability to hold and march my horn as well as the physicality expected of us.

Medical Emergency

I learned the show my first week, but due to some strange circumstances, my first full run of the show wasn’t until tonight. At the end of rehearsal last Thursday, the corps director was talking to us about some logistical stuff about our site and our upcoming shows. I yawned because I was tired. I soon found out that was a huge mistake because my jaw dislocated. My jaw literally would not close; it was stuck wide open, and there was nothing that I could do about it. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t want to tell anyone, so I got up and ran to the bathroom to try and fix it myself, but of course that would’ve been too easy.

Then I had to run back to the corps director, and I tried to explain to him what happened but it was really difficult because I couldn’t move my jaw. He rushed me to the nearest emergency room, which was luckily only a mile away, but my jaw was still stuck open for two hours. When I got to the hospital, everyone there was so calm, and I was stressing out. I just wanted everyone to move faster and fix me.

I surprisingly had a really pleasant experience at the hospital; I had a lot of firsts that day. I wore my first hospital gown, got my first IV put in and heart monitors hooked up, and even got put to sleep for the first time. That was what the doctor had to do to put my jaw back into place but that part was actually pretty funny. I remember after they reset my jaw, I was still out of it because of the meds, but I got really excited and started moving my jaw a lot and got it stuck again. The nurses were mad at me, and the doctor had to fix it again, and then they wrapped my head up, so I couldn’t talk. They let me sleep for about an hour, and then I was released; I just had to follow up with my doctor in a week.

It turns out I have some condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, and I couldn’t play my tuba the whole weekend until I saw my doctor. I am good to play now; I just have to limit my amount of jaw movement and try not to get it stuck again; otherwise I will be right back in the ER. I was really scared it was going to happen again, and I just wanted to go home and see my mom, but I couldn’t. After getting out of the hospital, I only had two hours before the buses left to go to Northern California.

I was talking to my friend Cameron (he’s a trumpet player in the horn line), and I told him I was stressing out about what happened because my jaw muscles were really tight and I could barely open my mouth. He called his mom and talked to her about what happened; she was a dental surgeon. She put my mind somewhat at ease because she said it would be sore due to how long it was open for, and soon enough we were at our housing site.

Looking Ahead

This weekend went by so fast; I learned the whole show. The first two times I did the show, I chose to do it without my horn for a couple of reasons. I was not yet comfortable with my drill; I was using a mixture of dots and guiding to my drill buddy Mike Jones. He and I are next to each other pretty much the entire show, and he really helped me out a lot when I was learning my drill.

Also, I was scared of my horn. It was heavy for me. I had only been there a week and a half, and switching from a 2.5 lb. horn to almost a 42 lb. horn was not an easy transition. Plus I was not used to the visual impairment that the horn had. I was used to being able to use my peripherals to guide left and right, but now there was a big horn in my way.

Needless to say I was very glad that I didn’t chicken out and go home because of what happened with my jaw. That was a great weekend! I was extremely proud of where the corps had gotten, and I can’t wait for tomorrow to see where we go as a corps …

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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