Joe Smith, a frequent contributor to last year, will be contributing essays to on a regular basis. If you have been or will be in drum corps, performing must be something that you really enjoy, or at least be willing to deal with on a regular basis. For a long time I was never very fond of getting in front of people individually to perform, if you want proof just look at my solo contest ratings.

Over time, though, I found drum corps has helped me in many ways to learn to really enjoy performing for small and large crowds alike. Although I won't just stand up in front of a crowd and play a piece, I do love to sit in an ensemble to play some really deep music, or even just a couple funk tunes from the 1970s.

Joe Smith (left) and his seat partner, Steve Beatty.
This past weekend I had the chance to escape the frigid weather of Iowa and head out to the West Coast to try my luck at something I have dreamed of for a very long time. There was only one thing about the weekend that I was not looking forward to -- my individual audition. Performing is fun, but walking into a room by yourself, knowing that you're about to play for two guys who want to rank you, can sometimes get in the way. All in all, though, I believe I did very well for being nervous.

Luckily my audition time was on Friday night, so the rest of the weekend I had to worry about nothing but what was happening in rehearsal. Throughout the weekend I met a bunch of wonderful people and played some very deep show music that I hope to be able to play this summer. We also, as a horn line, had the chance to play a piece that has deep tradition within the corps. Performing all of the pieces on Sunday afternoon for the people of the color guard and percussion sections was a rush that reminded me of tour when I had the chance to be on the field in front of thousands.

Performing this weekend was only the beginning of a week full of performances. Tuesday night I played with Drake University's pep band as we faced one of our biggest rivals, the University of Iowa. Unfortunately we lost 75 to 90, but keeping the spirits of the audience up was a blast. The people in the band had a great time playing classics such as "Iron Man" or "Pick up the Pieces," and we also had the chance to heckle the head coach of the University of Iowa's men's basketball team.

The week isn't even over yet, either. There's still more fun coming my way. Friday night there is a concert scheduled for the Drake University Wind Symphony and Concert band. I'm very excited, as this will be my first concert playing principle French horn for the concert band, and also I will once again get to perform with two people that I marched with this past summer. The performance is looking as though it will shape up quite nicely, and will lead us into a wonderful season in the concert band.

I still have several more opportunities to perform this month, as there will be more pep band performances, and in only 15 days I will once again head out West to see how things shape up this month for second auditions. I'm looking forward to having fun with it all, and hopefully everything will turn out positively.

To those of you who auditioned this last weekend and got a recall or a contract, congrats, and I wish you the best of the luck this season. To those who still have to audition, good luck and have fun with it. 2004 columns by Joe Smith: A Hectic drum corps week Right where you left off The Other side Preparing for tour Getting away from it all: Report from a Colts' camp Strong winds, early sunset: Report from a Colts' camp Meet the visual tech New challenges in Dubuque My favorite place: Alfred, N.Y. Freezing rain, full ensemble: A report from Dubuque Discussing drum corps over the holidays