This past weekend was the final installment of Phantom Regiment's "winter season." Although it was the last, it was most certainly not the least. This camp was by far one of the most productive camps that I have experienced in my years with the corps. By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, we were able to successfully complete a marching and playing run-through of nearly half of our 2005 production, "Rhapsody."
I said it last month and I'll say it again: I love Jamey Thompson's drill! I'm actually upset that this will be my only opportunity to experience it. Of course, it certainly does help that I have quite a few drill sets that are prime candidates for those Jolesch "candid shots." Thanks, Jamey! During our final hours of rehearsal, an audience steadily amassed along the front sideline. It was exciting to see so many people interested in what we were doing. However, it was also a bit on the intimidating side. Now, we had outsiders watching us, forming opinions about us. Our performance that afternoon would be their first impression of the 2005 Phantom Regiment, and I certainly wanted to make sure that it was a good one. Rehearsal went rather smoothly, and as our time wound down we heard those fateful words, "Set it up for a run-through." Now, if those were the last instructions that we would hear, life would have been pretty nice in my world. Unfortunately, upon completion of our run, we heard the word that all drum corps kids love to hate: "Again." Much to my dismay, we heard that word more than a few times that day. By the time we set up for our final run-through, I was thoroughly exhausted. My arms, which had cooperated rather well for most of camp, decided to end camp without notifying me first. Every moment of that run-through was an all out war between my body and my mind. By the time I reached my final set, it took everything that I had just to keep my horn from dropping. Of course, this is where my drill and the audience collide. My final set was a mere six steps from the front sideline. The same sideline, that is, that held all of our spectators. It was absolutely humiliating. I knew that I was struggling. I knew what kind of nasty sounds were coming out of my horn. But worst of all, I knew that I was completely exposed. Anything about me -- my horn carriage, my posture, my playing -- was in perfect position for critique. And right then, I was not portraying the image of the Phantom Regiment. While we waited for comments from the box, I could only hang my head in shame. I was far too embarrassed to look any of the spectators in the eye. After all, I had just let them down. Although no one was expecting to see August perfection, I'm sure no one was expecting to see some skinny little blonde girl that couldn't hold up her horn either. This sort of humiliation has always been a huge motivating factor for me over the years. If I had only listened to the screaming pain in my shoulders, I would have never succeeded in conquering the horn. But my stubbornness, combined with a healthy dose of vanity, has allowed me to push beyond the limits of my body. I'll admit it: I don't want to look bad in front of others. I don't want to be the "weak link" in the section. My willpower can only push me so far. From there, I need something like humiliation to give me that extra push over the edge. Although humiliation, embarrassment, and self-doubt can eat away at a person's well-being, I've been able to use my drum corps training to twist these motivators into a positive result. I'm not afraid of a little hard work. In fact, tell me that I can't do something, and I'll work even harder just to prove you wrong. There's something special about the 2005 Phantom Regiment, and I want to be a part of it. Perhaps this experience was the kick in the pants that I needed to make this the best season yet. I'm not about to let my corps mates down, and you can be sure that I'm not about to let you, the fans, down either. There are 26 days left until move-ins, and you can be sure that I'll be making the most out of each one. Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native) with a political science degree, and will age out in 2005.