Monday, June 28, 2010

First Audition with a World Class Drum Corps Pt1

What do I remember about heading to Chicago, IL to audition for a top World Class Drum and Bugle Corps? In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday, while other times I feel like it was so long ago.

After arriving to the O'Hare Airport Terminal 1 on United Airlines, we had to go to the departure level, last door, door 7. This was the easiest spot for the corps to pick up the guys traveling on all the different airlines. Now, they pick up at all the concourses. I don't know how excited (and nervous) of seeing the Cavalier bus pull up to pick us all up.

Thankfully, I was traveling with a friend from High School who knew the ropes. Even though I was nervous, he assured me that as long as I did what they asked, then I should be ok. Friday night was the start of auditions for all sections, the Horns, Drums, Pit, and Guard. You would think that the returning members would have a shoe-in for a spot, but it was assured to the 'new-guys' that each spot was in fact available.

After getting to the Rosemont school in Rosemont, IL, the home for The Cavaliers, we off-loaded our luggage, got into the school, signed-in, then immediately were told to hop a ride with those who had cars to Triton College the horn-line would be practicing for the weekend. The drum-line and guard would stay back at Rosemont for their warm-ups and auditions. Here is where I was completely nervous.

Fortunately, I was introduced to my high school friends seat-partner from the year before and he took me under his wing. We got to Triton College and got into the band room where there were horns lined up in the hall-way. There weren't that many guys there yet, so I was able to get a horn and start warming up with everyone else who was there. I think over-all, there were approximately 40 guys, but it's been so long ago now, I can't remember. Today, there are close to 500 guys coming to the auditions just for the horn-line. I do remember that everything we did was in fact being 'tested'. Now, it's more a clinic style to where you are learning how to play, or work on your technique. Even though you may not get a spot, you know what to expect for the following year, or when you do audition.

Coming from high school, we never did full, complete warm-ups. We literally would do pedal tones, and learn how to breathe, instead of doing a scale and then play. The weird part that I remember was when you were playing these low notes, it would expand your throat to allow more air to pass through. This often would cause you to yawn, and as weird as that sounds, it was a good thing! This meant that you were doing the right thing.

If you have been following my trip down memory lane, you know that I am a Trombone player. In Drum Corps, there are no Trombones, so the low brass consisted of Contras, Euphoniums, and Baritones. I was shooting for a Baritone, as it was the closest to the Trombone in clef. However, I would have to relearn the music as these 'Bugles' were all in the Key of G, not B flat that I was used to. Thankfully, they had charts to follow to help us new guys understand which key was for which notes. The one thing I can still hum today is the wonderful Clark Study that we had to learn.

Around 10pm, it was time to head back to Rosemont school and get a snack and go to bed. Once we got back to Rosemont, we all got some sort of snack, then we would have a quick meeting for the new guys with the Corps Director. Of course I don't remember everything that was said, but basically if there were new guys who marched any other corps, they had to be financially paid in full with their previous corps before they could march with another, as well as be sure to keep up with dues to help offset the food and transportation during the camps.

After our meeting, we were then taken into the gym and sat down with the rest of the folks there for the audition weekend. We sat down to listen to the what was expected of us, as well as the possible music that we were going to play, which would follow along the musicality of composer John Rutter. The pieces they played for us were clips of music and it got everyone excited for the not only the next day, but the summer as well.

Then it was lights out! What a first night it was, and definitely an exciting one to think, "Here I was, at a top seeded drum corps audition camp". (of course, I still didn't have any sort of spot, but I was still there!) The only problem I could see for myself was learning how to hold this G Bugle. Even though it was only 8 1/2 pounds, it was much different than a Trombone, but hey, I know I'll learn!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment