By Rachel Traczyk There are some benefits to living close to a corps camp site -- you don't have a long drive, you can work out last-minute kinks in your life before you leave for a weekend, you can get enough sleep the night before, and arrive refreshed and ready to go. However, this comes at a price at times. I happen to live right near the Minneapolis airport, and therefore I tend to volunteer my afternoons and evenings to picking people up and being a taxi for a couple members of the corps. Did I mention that I drive a Geo Metro, and that I've been playing contra lately? My camp weekend started off with picking up a color guard member from the Greyhound station, and then picking up a staff member from the airport. To make an unecessesarily long story shorter, I ended up with my contra in my "trunk," my bags packed carefully around it (protection), a flag pole sticking up near my shifter back to my rear window, two passengers (both covered in luggage), and absolutely no visibility because of the fog that formed on the windows from our breathing and conversation. Despite some challenges -- and an incredibly small amount of space -- we all arrived safely. The horn line spent the first night in sectionals, working on our warmups, exercises and the music we'll be playing for concerts. The staff dealt out the constructive criticism -- use more air, watch your attacks and releases, etc. We focused greatly on proper tone production, the mechanics of playing, and also on the mental game of drum corps. Saturday morning began with a horn line/drum line combined stretch. As usual, Jeff made the morning far more interesting with his sense of humor and style of stretching. This year, however, we are focusing more on conditioning – correctly -- earlier on in the season. So, instead of tens of hundreds of pushups during stretch, we only did five. But I know that I am far more sore today than I've been in a long time from those five pushups than I've ever been from the hundreds I did on tour last year! We spent a majority of Saturday working on music, again, working on the fundamentals of playing, and then meeting together to put together the concert pieces and exercises. Later on that evening we had visual rehearsal in which we reviewed a lot of the fundamentals of marching and really touched on some key ideas specific to our high brass/low brass sections. Sunday we woke up and stretched as a corps, again, enjoying the time we get to spend with each other and bonding as a whole corps before we went our separate ways to prepare for show and tell. The horn line warmed up in sectionals first. Later we met together to do a combined marching and playing session of across the floors. It was really awesome to be able to watch from the sidelines when there was a group marching; it's a position you don't normally get to see as a marching member -- the growth and capabilities from an "out-of-the-block" perspective. I was thrilled to see the talent and growth in our horn line. After lunch, we got together for show and tell and were able to play for our corpsmates. During one of our concert pieces, I had the chance to glance up at the percussion and guard members in the audience, and I noticed a good friend of mine being brought to tears by our playing. It's moments like that that I live for as a musician, and I was nearly drawn to tears as I was playing. However, I maintained my composure and finished the song. When we were finally able to play the corps song, the power and growth of the corps finally struck me. Not only was there enough emotion in the sound of the horn line, but the feeling of really being a horn line, a corps and a family really hit me. And I'm sure it helped that we had the largest amount of horns at this camp in Blue Stars history! After we finished playing, we had the chance to watch the percussion and color guard perform for us. We finally have our battery decided on, which is awesome! The color guard is achieving a level of performance that I think is phenomenal, especially after only having a weekend of interrupted and crazy space to learn a segment of work in. All in all, I'm very excited for what the corps will be bringing to the table this year. The feeling of being a family, the tradition and hard work ethic we've always worked towards, and the feeling of being part of something larger than yourself is as strong as ever. I'm thrilled to be a part of the 2005 Blue Stars season and can't wait until we get on the field! Rachel Traczyk is a second-year member of the Blue Stars, and is presently studying music education at the University of Minnesota. More camp logs can be found at www.bluestars.org.
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