By Allison Owen In some weird way I've been waiting two years for this weekend to arrive. Now it's only days away.

On Friday I'm off to Rock Hill, S.C., for the 2006 Carolina Crown auditions. In a way I've never been more afraid of anything in my life. But in another sense, I feel somewhat at ease. I think in the past two years I've learned to relax more. I know that I can only do the best that I am capable of doing, nothing more. I've come a long way since my first audition, so I guess we'll see how it all turns out.

Allison Owen
In these past few months I've talked to a lot of new corps people. Mostly I've answered basic questions for rookies and explained how a general corps audition goes. I love to try to help people anyway that I can because I remember how nervous and scared I was before my first audition. I see so much of myself in some of these people. They help me to realize how far I've come and how far I still have to go. As much as I enjoy it, it's kind of hard for me to try to help other people accomplish the same thing I'm attempting at the same time. I can't tell them exactly what it's like to audition for [insert corps name here.] I can't tell anyone what it's like to march in the top 12. I haven't done that before. I can't tell them how to do something that I haven't even done myself. I do, however, know the basics to a drum corps audition. I've been to three -- technically four -- drum corps auditions before, so I've experienced the general flow of an audition. I know a basic idea of what a weekend audition camp schedule will look like. I have a pretty good idea of the basics a color guard auditionee would need to know. But every corps has its own way of doing things. The only way to find out how a specific corps does things is to go there and see.

The best advice I was given before my first audition was to keep an open mind and have a good attitude. I try to pass this helpful information on to anyone who is auditioning for drum corps for the first time. Attitude is everything in this activity. I've realized that if I don't know something, but I have a good attitude and open mind, the staff will help me learn. Another helpful piece of wisdom: Make friends, especially in your section. In 2003 I felt extremely uncomfortable and didn't really make friends or talk to anyone in the guard. I talked to people in the drum line and horn line, but I only saw them at meals and before lights out. You spend the majority of your time with your section, so try to put forth the effort to meet new people. If you are coming to auditions with a group of friends from home, make new friends too. Don't just stay in your group of people from home. I truly believe that drum corps people are the best in the world. You could potentially meet your new best friend at this audition camp, so don't close yourself off. These people will change your life for the better if you let them, so open up to new people and ideas. You never know what might happen. Probably the most common question I've been asked -- in relation to any corps – is, " How can I find out how many people are going to be auditioning and how many vets are returning?" I know this is a frequent question in the average new person's mind because I've wondered the same thing myself -- and I'm forcing myself to keep from doing it now. My answer to this question would be not finding out. I've found it better to worry only about myself. Whenever I think about my "chances" or who else is going to be there, I get distracted from the task at hand. My best advice is to concentrate only on you. There will probably be a lot of people auditioning wherever you go, try to focus only on yourself.

Ahhh, it's drum corps time again. Another wonderful season awaits us all. I can't wait. I'm really excited to see how this weekend will go, because this is another new experience for me.   I wish everyone the best of luck in their auditions during the coming weeks.   Try to remember that "success is a journey, not a destination." Enjoy it! Allison Owen, 17, is a senior at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tenn. She was assistant conductor at Southwind, and she enjoys dancing, performing, color guard, writing, English, and having fun. She plans on attending Western Carolina University next fall...