Drum Corps International
On performance

On performance

by Andy Dittrich

People talk about performance in a lot of ways. It's a very general term. We deal with it on a daily basis. Our teachers and professors who give lectures are performing, but performing didactically, and at 9 a.m., we don't usually consider that we are at that moment a part of a performance.

Andy Dittrich
On the quad sometimes I see a guy strumming a guitar. In the lounge downstairs sometimes a girl will be practicing on the baby grand. We all have preconceived notions of what a performance is. As drum corps members we tend to think of it on a grand scale, where every time we step onto the field, rehearsal, performance, or otherwise, we are performing as well as we possibly can. Posture, presence, accuracy, emotion, and any other performance qualities are things that we attach so closely to our activity. I've seen a lot of performances -- a lot of drum corps, a lot of musicals and plays, a lot of concerts, a lot of recitals. I like to think that I gain something from every one of them, something that I can do better, something about their performance that I lack in mine. I went home this past weekend to see a close friend's senior recital. Melanie Braxton is 17 years old, and is a student in musical theatre at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. Her mother is the piano accompanist for the choirs at Romeoville High School and another important figure in my life. Mel's brother played in the snare line at RHS, and was in indoor line with me as well. We can always question things about every performance we see. We can make our comments about pitch accuracy, lack of presence, bad posture, bad stamina, and a lack of emotional response. But I couldn't make these comments about Mel's recital. It was almost as if I saw everything I want to be in a performer that night. Of course I can't nearly sing nor dance very well, and I'm really not one for acting or piano playing either. But I learned more about what I want to be as a performer that night than I think I have in my whole life. Not to say that my instruction has not always been great, but I think there are things that people have to see for themselves to totally understand. Melanie is a pretty small girl. She probably stands around 5'3", 5'4", and is very slim. But Mel looks 12 feet tall at any moment that she is on stage. She commands the stage, and she demands to be noticed. Anyone watching pretty much cannot take their eyes off of her, because it feels like you are left without a choice. It's almost as if every word and every step is directed squarely at you, almost speaking to you, telling you to make sure that you don't for a second think that you can move your eyes to anyone but her. I want to perform like that. Not to stick out, and demand that people watch me, but that I can be great enough to demand that you watch Southwind.

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