I received the following e-mail a few weeks ago from Nathaniel Hine, a member of Magic of Orlando. He wrote this essay for his English 1101 class. Another perfect day
by Nathaniel Hine My life over the summer was entirely devoted to a common goal that I shared with a group of 134 of my peers. I was educated in a special field that many people never experience. I was a professional musician who performed for thousands of people. Things such as TVs and the Internet had no value in my life because I dedicated myself to becoming a better person. I did more activities in one day then many people did their whole summer. Throughout the summer, I was a member of the Magic of Orlando drum and bugle corps. Being in drum corps meant that I chose to give my life to this organization and received the benefits they provided. People other than me planned my daily life, and they told me when to do something and how to do it. I had three basic parts to my day, which were well planned and carried out. A typical day involved wake-up, practice and then the show. The daily life of a drum corps member is a physically and mentally demanding one, and changes one's life forever. Above me, I saw a dark figure telling me to get up. The smell was a distinguishable odor that reminded me of a football locker room. I woke up, with four other people, an hour before the rest of the corps, because I had to line three fields for practice. Lining the field was a task that was enjoyable if I willed it to be. I took pride in lining fields in which my peers would practice upon. Out of breath from running up and down the field with a paint can, I diligently finished my duty to the corps. I then proceeded to participate in running and stretching with the rest of the corps. While jogging as a group in a block, we loudly sang our cadences of pride. Simple things such as jogging created a sense of unity amongst us. I was part of a group that became a family over a three-month period. The final thing I did during wake up was eat; I ate breakfast in a rush in order to arrive to practice on time. The most intense part of the day was practice. My goal for practice was to be as mentally and physically drained afterward as possible. Accomplishing this goal was relatively easy to do with a block of five hours of continuous practice. Practice began in the morning with basic marching techniques. I went through many exercises that helped to increase posture while relaxing the body. The most physical part of my visual warmup was circle drill. I had to execute every stride to perfection, while keeping my body in a uniform position. While marching in a circle may sound pointless, it was an exercise that kept me moving continuously for about five minutes at a time. Five minutes may not sound that long, but when you are marching at a tempo of 200 beats per minute it is not an easy task. Circle drill required great balance and mental awareness. Throughout the exercise, I saw the intensity in other people faces that were doing the same thing. I was in so much pain throughout my body, that I felt a burning in my arms from holding my 6-pound baritone for an extended amount of time. The five minutes concluded, and we continued to do this until the next part of practice. After I was physically drained from all the visual practice, I had music warmup. Everything we did during this period had to be perfect; if it were not, then we would do it until it was. My instructors pressured me constantly to perform what I was doing. Waiting in the warmup arc, I was alone in my own body and mind, free to think only about one thing -- being perfect. I placed my baritone to my lips, and I felt a sense of excitement when we produced the most beautiful sound I had heard. The sound was the loudest thing I ever heard in my life, and it seemed to get only louder. At that point, I wanted to march and play in the show. When we put the full corps together and played for the last two hours, my practice got even better. Throughout ensemble, people commented on us on how well we ran a section of music. In between running to our sets and doing it again, we did physical workouts to help strengthen us. I did so many pushups it was unbelievable. That day we showed how much of a family we were and how we had grown together. After practice, I got ready to perform that night at a show. The period between the end of practice and leaving on the bus was called "Eat, shower (and) load." The corps gave the members an hour and a half to be on the buses ready to depart the housing site. There was very little time for all the things I had to do. My main priority was to clean my horn and eat. Once I completed that, I waited in line to take a cold shower. The food was better for lunch, and it was well earned; I worked hard and I ate well. While eating was a nice way to spend some time, I also needed to get my personal belongings under the bus before I left. If I did not accomplish this, then I would be required to ride with all my bags in my seat, which would not have been comfortable. I climbed into my cramped-up seat with my baritone, backpack and uniform. I felt like a pea inside a pod. There was limited room, so I had to make the best out of what space I did have. The bus ride to the show was a way for me to relax and enjoy myself. I usually caught up on sleep, and then talked to my friends. We listened to music and sang out of tune; I loved the way of life. The bus ride was about defining who we were. As we arrived to the show site, I folded my uniform jacket and placed it upon my shako. I rose out of my seat, and I was prepared to put on a successful show that evening. As I entered the stadium, I heard the speaker announce our names in front of several thousands of people. I walked onto a lush green field where I was to perform for 15 minutes. The ultimate reward for all my hard effort was the rush of anxiety that flowed through my body and hearing people scream for Magic to play. I received the best feeling in the world when my performance was over. After the competition was over, we had an hour to spend with friends, family, and other people who came to the show to see us. Once the hour was over, it was back to the buses. The next day was to bring many more challenges ahead of us, and we had to go to our next housing site. One thing that can never be replicated outside of the actual place was the atmosphere on the bus. The long trips across many states left us many hours to do as we pleased. A bus ride that took 20 hours had many stories to be remembered for my lifetime. The beauty of the places we passed through was indescribable, and nature seemed so special. Eventually, I always managed to fall asleep on the ride to the next housing site. The worst part was waking up with a stiff neck, sore back, and my legs cramped from being in a seat for hours on end. At the end of the ride, I picked myself up off the ice-cold bus, and stood outside in the warm yellow sun that greeted us with another day. I found myself in another gym that held its own new stories. The daily life in drum corps does not make for a typical summer. I faced things I never wanted to face, and I learned how to face challenges and conquer them. I met many people who faced the same challenges as me, and they are now life-long friends. Having very little time to myself allowed me to realize how valuable life is when you only have such a short time to enjoy it. Living in conditions that would cause people to go crazy only strengthened me. Because of the physical and mental demands that were placed on me, I now can transfer my experience to other situations. I now am able to appreciate many aspects of life that others do not realize because they take it for granted. The daily life of drum corps caused my life to change in the most unexpected ways. Fanfare archives Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.
He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition.
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.