Drum Corps International
Lehigh Valley Knights "ready and excited"

Lehigh Valley Knights "ready and excited"

by Drum Corps International

By Christopher Roland and Joshua Blake Most would say that summer begins June 21, but ask any LVK member and they'll probably tell you that summer starts the last weekend of April. Most people are just getting over April showers and the last-minute rush to file income taxes. College students are taking finals and high school students are preparing for AP exams and standardized tests. For those of us marching in a weekend Divison II & III corps, it's time to sacrifice our Saturdays and Sundays in order to field what we hope will be a championship-calibre show.

The Corps rehearses music and drill to the opener, "Dance Movements."
At LVK, it all started the weekend of April 23-25. Like every corps, we've had to deal with marchers having various school commitments such as finals, indoor competitions, and band concerts; regardless, this camp served as a transition between a winter's-long effort to formulate and define technique and actually putting a show on the field. By this point of the season, all the music is memorized and the fundamentals of marching are thoroughly engrained in each member, and everyone is ready and exited to learn the show. In one weekend's effort, the entire introduction and a greater portion of the opening number were put to the field. Even with the majority of effort put into learning drill, time was still found to engage in strength-building exercises such as the "Tower of Power" where, after rehearsal, each member of the horn line tries to out-do each other by seeing who can hold their horns up the longest with proper posture. This also reinforces a certain "hard core" mentality among the marchers, a personal demand to push oneself beyond his or her mental limits in order to reach true physical ones. Unexpectedly, this ran nearly 30 minutes past the midnight "lights-out" before a winner was declared, after a full hour at attention. The following camp was much like the previous, with time split between learning the show and doing exercises to focus and fine-tune technique. One exercise the color guard has been doing every Saturday and Sunday is called "5 & 5," which consists of 500 drop spins into 500 peggy spins, first on the left hand (spinning clockwise) and then the on the right hand (spinning counter-clockwise). This is an exhausting exercise that develops strength and emphasises proper technique and carriage. Typically we do this exercise standing still, but this camp we took it one step further and did "5 & 5" while marching in formation (tracking it) around the field. The drum line spent a greater portion of their day tracking their music across the field, and the horn line spent theirs focusing on the details of their music. This is in addition to time spent learning even more drill. Not a spare second was wasted. Over the next two weekends, we learned the rest of the opener, added the balled, and even began cleaning the earlier portions of the show. The sabre line learned the entire book for the opener, cleaned some flag work, we refined our movement techniques, eventually adding dance to the beginning of the show. The corps proper continued on perfecting their parts and putting more music to the drill. During this time, many of us moved out of our colleges, sometimes coming straight to corps with all our worldly possessions in the back of our cars. We figured it impressive, with some of us coming from as far away as southwestern Ohio and southern Virginia, but as far as sheer distance is concerned, nothing compared to the arrival of our bottom bass drummer, who moved in from Tokyo. Just last weekend, the corps was successfully able to run two-thirds of its show with drill and music. Some staging issues were addressed in the balled between the horns and drums, and the guard learned nearly the entire rest of book for the opener. The run-throughs of the show were exhausting, with some members being pushed to their physical limits, but as we become more comfortable with the show and mentally learn to surpass these limits, the production will look seamless. All in all, the show is coming along nicely, and will be ready for its debut at the end of June. We are far ahead of where we have been at this time the past two years, and with more hard work, hopefully we will have another equally successful championship week in August. For most of us now, a routine has been established. We leave camp Sunday afternoon sore and exhausted. We tend to go to sleep early that night, and still wake up Monday morning for school or work still sore and just as exhausted. We continue with our lives through the workweek, and Friday afternoon right after work or school we make the drive up to corps for sectionals. After lights-out, we fall asleep on the hard, cold floor and wake up early for stretch and run Saturday morning. We practice, we eat, we sleep, and we repeat on Sunday. Around 4 in the afternoon Sunday, we leave and the cycle begins again. This time of year can be hard, painful, and frustrating, but we are motivated by the thought of upcoming performances. In a few short weeks the effort will pay off. It is not too late to join LVK for the summer and have an amazing weekend Division II & III corps experience. If you're capable of learning fast and willing to expend the effort to become a great performer, there are spots open in the hornline for a soprano, a mellophone and a baritone. There are also three spots open in the color guard's flag line. Christopher Roland is a senior at University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, majoring in electrical engineering, and is a three-year member of the LVK color guard. Joshua Blake is a senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., majoring in computer science, and this is his second year as the drum major of LVK. In 2001, Josh marched contra with the Crossmen, and in 2002 marched contra with LVK. This year Chris and Josh will be two of the six age outs marching LVK.

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