By Joe Smith For the Colts' February camp, the weather while traveling to Dubuque, Iowa, was not a challenge at all. Rather the challenge during this camp was trying to find the school after dark. Trying to find the right street to turn onto was a bit of a challenge, especially since the last turn is onto what looks more like an alley than an actual two-way street.

Two action shots from the Colts' last camp. Photos by David Speer.
I was personally very excited for camp because there is nowhere I'd rather be on Valentine's Day than with my family, doing what I love. This was also the weekend we were scheduled to receive "John Henry/Threshers" musical piece, which would include the percussion break. During registration I saw many old friends once again, and met several new ones. I also got the chance to see the hockey puck that hit Chris "Firehose" Tanner in the mouth while he was reffing a hockey game a few weeks back. I also found out that Carl "Pip" Curtis, one of our tenor line vets, was truly a "pig" (in Beth Wilson's definition of commitment) because he was back from England for his second camp already this year. The camp started off with the usual sectionals for Friday night. After that we had snack and we split off to our two separate gyms for the guys and girls. The sleep that night would be much needed for the next day's hard work. Saturday morning we had a nice long horn line warm up, with some ear training mixed in. We then split up into sectionals to work on the opener, "American Overture." After lunch the high brass had the first visual block of the day. During this time we worked on slides, forward and backward technique. Then we learned "flip and fours" and the figure "8" block. We then finished out the afternoon with some jazz running. "flip and fours" is still my all time favorite marching exercise to do. After our visual block we went to sectionals where we received "John Henry/Threshers." The piece was everything I was hoping for. As we worked on this my anticipation for full ensemble grew even more. I'm always excited to play new pieces in full ensemble, and this time was no different than any other. After dinner that evening we had a full corps meeting. During this time they introduced the entire corps to the staff that was at camp for the first time, after which Greg and other staff members talked about the show. Then we split up into small groups containing members from every section of the corps and we introduced ourselves and talked about the great things to come for the corps. After this time we then split back up into sectionals. During our evening sectionals we worked on "American Overture" for a bit and then we started to work on "John Henry/Threshers" for the first time as an entire brass ensemble. While we were working through "Threshers," I realized just how fast camp was going, and how much I would miss it in the following month.

During the first part of full ensemble I decided to experiment and try using earplugs, since people always say that we can cause damage to our hearing if we're not careful. But I found this concept not to be for me. We worked on "Threshers" in full ensemble and I was quite impressed with the overall ensemble. I especially love the percussion arrangements. They explained to us that the beginning of "John Henry" is supposed to be like a train in the train station early in the morning, and once it was described as that, the picture was so clear in my mind. Klesch has done some amazing things with the arrangements of these pieces. After full ensemble ended we had visual block for the entire horn line. During this time we once again went over slides, the forwards and backwards technique, and did many across the floors with these two. We then did "across-the-floors" with "flip and flops," and then worked on the figure "8" block as an entire horn line. We then ended the evening with a nice, warm down-stretch with our favorite person in the world, Beth Wilson. Although many of us were sore from the day's activities we had a wonderful snack made by the volunteers, and then some of us even created a back massage line. Sunday morning after breakfast and calisthenics we split into sectionals. During this time we worked on the few changes we had in "Ol' Man River." Before lunch we had a short time where the full ensemble worked on a few parts in "American Overture," and then we went to lunch. After lunch we then worked on all of our show music so far for a bit in preparation for the "dog and pony" show that afternoon. This camp my new friend Tika Wrisner (a new soprano player) and I got the chance to watch the color guard perform. I was very impressed with the color guard performance, and I'm looking forward to getting to know many of the members. After the color guard performed we ran back to our gym to get our horns and music for the performance. We then performed the three pieces of our show that we have. Our staff thought the performance was a very strong way to end the weekend. I asked first year color guard member Dana Schwarz, 18, from Hastings, Minn., about the performance on Sunday, and she said, "At the end of the weekend performance, I sat there and I got chills from the music, and I thought, wow, in a few months I will be on a field in a costume, completely consumed by the music."

I'm looking forward to the March camp very much because last I have heard Boston Brass is supposed to come and hold a clinic for us. Now if only I could snap my fingers and it would magically become March 12.

Instead of what makes me "Furioso" this week I thought I would just wish everyone a "Thressing" good weekend.