By Jared Reno
The weather was generous for our camp and allowed us to practice under great conditions. This year our music and show is quite a bit harder than last year's. Even us vets, prepared as we were for the strenuous activity, found that some parts of it were just more than the body could handle. A few members had muscle sprains and strains as a result. As we moved closer to our first show, the training of our bodies and demands of our drill started to converge, so we are down to only one strain at the time of this article. Sometimes the rigors of touring are too much for those who are new to the activity. One of our new members stepped off the bus in California, flipped open his cell phone and disappeared in a taxi 20 minutes later. In the old days, he would have had to search for a pay phone, so progress does make life easier for those who find out drum corps is more work than they expected. Although our housing facility was great, we had no hot water for two weeks, and the hotter it got outside, the colder the water was. Washing hair and bodies became a multistep process -- get wet, turn off water, soap up, turn on water, rinse a little, turn off water, warm a bit, turn on water, rinse a little more, turn off water, warm, turn on water, final rinse. When the water takes your breath away, it's TOO COLD! Then there was a main practice field that had fungus on it, which had to be treated for chemicals. So instead of being able to use a good field, we ended up with one of the "rocky road" fields. Bring in the harder drills and presto, you get sprains and strains. I must say though, that the best facility we have had so far has been at Grant's Pass, not that the others were bad by any means -- Grant's Pass was just better! With all of the music and drill changes it has really been a challenge for our guard to modify their routines to match the music. They have all done a great job in working to accomplish this task. Each and every one of them is determined to do their very best and is putting in extra time to make the changes. This is my age-out year and I guess as some special treat from the powers that be, my habitat is on the guard bus this summer. I am one lucky mellophone player! The horn line, pit and percussion are working more as a unit now, rather than individual ensembles, and the further we get into the tour, the closer we are getting to that elusive goal. It feels good to know that everyone is finally reaching that point. California was great and we were so glad to finally be able to perform, to see the reaction of the people at the shows and finally get feedback as to where changes needed to be made. I also got a chance at the Hayward show to see one of my friends, a French horn player for Renegades, whom I went to high school with. We are getting stronger and better every day, and as the music and drill changes, we are becoming more adept in incorporating the changes into our performance. It's a little harder on the rookies though. One asked me after the Vancouver show, "How do you do it?" My answer was something like, "Remember the things you did right and remember the things you did wrong. Think about what YOU are doing, be aware of the others, but don't concern yourself with their individual issues or performance problems, only your own; because it is the staff's responsibility to handle the tough love. When you know you've done something right, build on it and enhance it. When you do something wrong, think about what you need to do to make it right, then let it go. Stay positive!" For instance, towards the end of our performance at the Hayward show, I anchored a turn for the mellophones at the 50 and a pothole ate my shoe. (Negative.) I knew I had a job to do to finish the drill without the shoe. (Positive.) I "let it go" by putting it into a positive memory. When I get old, I can remember -- I'm the one that left the shoe at the 50 in 2003!