Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Audition with a World Class Drum Corps Pt2

After finally settling down and trying to understand what I possibly got myself into, I was able to fall asleep on the gym floor with all the other guys who were auditioning. As short of a night it was, actually got a good amount of sleep, but in the early morning, you could hear a few of the older members starting to stir and take their showers. This actually became a thing I would learn to listen for as the earlier you got your shower, the hotter the water was. The later your shower, the colder it was!

If you didn't wake up early enough, then your other 'alarm' was the *click-click-buzz* of the gym lights being turned on. I would use this as my back-up wake-up call later in the summer, and immediately go shower before grabbing breakfast. Many people chose breakfast before shower, but the lines to take a shower were always long, and some guys took longer than others.

Breakfast consisted of something hot, like eggs, or french toast, along with cereal. Once we were all done with breakfast, we would have to clear the gym at Rosemont school because this morning we would be learning the Cavaliers way of standing at attention, and posture. Of course, we would take about an hour to stretch. (This was before the Cavaliers hired a fitness guru. He taught the corps palates, and I'll be honest when I say that I'm glad I wasn't around for him! LOL)

After our stretching, it was a few hours of learning how to stand, heels together and toes at fists length apart. The instructors would be walking around our block and help us new guys with posture, often correcting us. Many would be leaning forward, some leaning backwards, some with their toes together, and others just not grasping the concept at all.

I can't imagine how difficult it is to re-teach all of these tentative marchers the style the Cavaliers want. You have many great musicians from all over the country, with so many different styles of marching, and now to teach them to properly stand. Once they felt we had decent posture, then it was time to take that first step.

Taking that step soon became something like a baby taking their initial step. It wasn't just move your left foot forward and then your right foot, we had to learn the step by breaking it down into counts, from placing the heel, rolling all the way through to the toe. The count would be sub-divided. Starting with 1-2-3-4, then 1e&a, 2e&a, 3e&a, 4e&a then start all over again with the next foot. All this while maintaining your posture and holding your horn. So many things are going through your head while extending your spine from the tips of your ears to your tail bone. Speaking of which, you'd be amazed at how much taller you become when you stand in place, take your hands and place them on the tips of your ears, and lift. This allowed you to grow at least an inch, if not more for those who often slouch.

Even though the picture above is on a lined field, we were doing these steps in a gym, trying to remember that it's 8 steps per 5 yards. When someone would mess up, we all had to stop, think of our posture, size of the step we were taking, how to roll through the step, extending the backs of your calves, pushing your foot down planting the heel of your foot while lifting your toes, rolling forward, lifting your back heel until your knee bends and all your weight is centered on your forward foot, while the back foot only has it's toe's planted.  Truly there is a lot to think about in just one step, but the instructors are trying to teach their style of marching.

One of the other top drum corps has a different style. They teach everyone to step off with the opposite foot than normal. Instead of stepping off with your left foot, they teach their members to step off with the right foot. As hard as it was to learn to follow through the marching, I just couldn't imagine stepping off with another foot, opposite from the one I was always use to.

After a while, we would stop with the marching, but then would learn how to hold the horn properly. In the attention, at-ease, as well as carrying the horn in our right hand only. This made sure that we wouldn't clunk the horns together while standing in warm-up arcs.

Finally after a full morning of learning how to march, we would break for lunch and enjoy something that the wonderful volunteers would make.

The afternoon consisted of going back over to Triton College and going over our music. It would be a full hour of warming up, then trying to learn some of the music. During this time, we would be doing our auditioning and one by one, guys would be leaving and entering the band room and playing the best they could. When it was my turn, I was nervous as all could be. Thankfully, I was told to just relax, the instructor knew that I was a Trombone player, and told me to watch his fingers as I was going through my audition. He was more concerned about my tone quality rather than what I knew of the baritone. I messed up a few of my notes due to not knowing the fingering combination, but he assured me that I did fairly well.

Before I knew it, we were taking a break for dinner. After dinner would be more horn time trying to learn more of the music. I was not use to warming up or warming down as we never really did this in high school. Sure, we did a scale, but we didn't take the time to open our throats in order to make a fuller, broader sound. Same thing with warming down, we would play notes that would relax our throats from playing, and to relax the lips from buzzing all day. That night, it was another light snack back at Rosemont school, then lights out.