By Allison Owen My fellow guard members at school don't understand the commitment level that a drum and bugle corps will require. This year, I began to practice outside of school everyday and it has made me better at guard. I work hard to clean up my technique and basics, and then it makes me perform better with our guard than I did compared to last year.

The SHHS guard, sporting Blue Devils-inspired uniforms.
For example, drop spins are a basic guard move that can be done with either the right or left hand, and are a requirement of auditions at some drum corps. Every day in class, our guard tries to do either 100 or 200 on our right hand. When I go home, I do either 500 or 1,000 on each hand. So this week, when our director tried to push our endurance and make us do 300 in class, I didn't have a problem doing it, while some of the members struggled to make 300. Even after events like this, my friends don't understand why I would want to spend my free time practicing. I was asked this week if I wanted to go hang out somewhere and eat before the football game, and when I told them that I needed to practice instead, they were amazed and asked me "Why?" I couldn't come up with a reason ... but I wanted to practice, because I know that if I don't spin outside of class, I can't get better. I have to push myself beyond the level of a high school marching band if I want to march a drum and bugle corps. Recently I started to get discouraged and I wondered if practicing was really helping me –- especially since my friends were beginning to stop asking me if I wanted to go anywhere, because they knew I'd say that I had to practice instead. Well, Thursday evening our band performed at a nearby university's home halftime show. After our performance we got many compliments, and one person in particular stopped me and said, "Hey, you look like a Blue Devil." They were referring to my guard uniform, which our director designed based on the Blue Devils' guard uniform from 2002. I decided that I would take this comment a step further than that. After much consideration I decided that if I want to be like a Blue Devil -- a champion -- I needed to work hard to reach my goal. My conclusion is that practicing each day is what I have to do to accomplish my goal of marching in a drum corps. It's easy to get discouraged and question your hard work, but it's what has to be done to reach your goals. So, if you'll excuse me, I have some more practicing to do -- after all, auditions are only a couple months away. Allison Owen is a sophomore at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tenn., who plans to audition for a corps in November. "I'm in the SHHS guard and I like writing, dancing, performing, traveling, photography and having fun. As for after high school/college, I don't know what I want to do ... I just know I would like to do something dealing with color guard, computers or writing," Owen said.