Drum Corps International
Reflections

Reflections

by Drum Corps International

By Matthew Smith
Seattle Cascades
First off, I would like to apologize for not being able to connect with you all this summer; due to lack of Internet at the various sites the corps stayed at. Each paragraph here is a reflection from my experience with the Seattle Cascades.

Matthew Smith
This is a summer I will never forget. There were so many laughs, cries, and even some venting sessions in the back of the bus along the road. The one thing that I looked forward to all summer, besides performing, was getting to know the individuals in the corps (specifically my section) a bit more. I also looked forward to meeting the band geeks that I talk to over the AOL instant messenger after hours at the various regionals and local shows. That may sound a bit bizarre, but I love meeting people who share their love for music as much as I do. The most important thing about this summer was that I grew as a performer on my baritone. Now I am still not the best baritone player by any means, but I feel as if I have achieved much more than I would have anywhere else. The major hit that sparked off the competitive season for me was that our first performance in front of a large crowd was at University of the Pacific's Tiger Stadium. That is the same stadium that my high school marching band performed finals in when I was in high school. That brought back many memories of when I marched on that same field. Since the Seattle Cascades obviously didn't tour in Fresno, the Stockton show was my "home show" and many of my friends, and supporters came out to see me at that show, as well as the other California shows that weekend. We also got to have dinner with the Phantom Regiment after the Concord, Calif., show. Being that I am a huge fan and supporter of Phantom Regiment, I made sure I made good use of that time by meeting some of the members. I had always heard rumors "Don't mess with Phantom!" but they were all friendly! They even helped eat some of our leftovers, before we had our ice cream social. I also got a chance to meet another cool kid I chat with online who marches mellophone in their corps. What a class act they were. Some of the students I taught at Hoover H.S. for marching band and a brother of mine from Kappa Kappa Psi (Iota Alpha) marched in the Vanguard Cadets this summer. That was amazing seeing them at some of the shows, and them telling me what new "stuff" they learned. I wasn't expecting to see the students I taught marching, they could have at least waited until I had aged out of drum corps (laughter), now I don't have anything to teach them, because they've learned it this summer (more laughter). If there is one thing that I have learned all summer, it's NOT to be lazy! Not that I was beforehand. But there are things that we do in our everyday lives that we let slip, or put off. At least with the corps, there was always a schedule, and for the most part it was the same everyday with a few adjustments here and there. I'd like to think that I was one of the people who were always where I was supposed to be on time. My band director used to talk about "If you're early you're on time, if you're on time you're late, if you're late you're fired." Doing drum corps definitely added that extra responsibility of stretching out every last inch of time in a rehearsal day. I think we all learned we have to treat 1 hour, as if we only have 20 minutes; that's the only way time can really be maximized to its fullest. A minute doesn't go by when I don't think about "The Death Block". Our brass caption head, Steve Menefee, used a portion of our show (the opener) which had a block formation, and made a warmup out of it. This consisted of us marching and playing "Remington" exercises starting at moderate tempos, and increasing to prestissimo and beyond tempos. One would probably think, "Oh, it's just marching and playing whole notes." But the kicker to this "death block" was it was non-stop, except for the resets, and even then, everyone had to run back as fast as they could because we all "loved" this block. I never thought fatigue could set in so quickly. Heck, I never thought he would pull this block out of nowhere in the middle of the Texas heat. It felt at times as if he were trying to kill us. But he was only trying to get the major feet problems out of our sound, while working on excellent tone quality. This tour wouldn't have been classic without our Totem Coach buses breaking down or having malfunctions numerous times. I started the tour off on the horn line bus, which was also the bus that had its first malfunction on the way from all-days through California. All I can remember was falling off to sleep, and hear the bus shut off every couple of hours, because of a computer glitch or overheating. Totem Coach #503 would no long be with us on tour after California. That bus didn't have enough overhead stowage space anyways! When 503 left us, we got an even bigger coach, which had better air conditioning, more overhead space, along with better seats. I was in heaven, and this coach didn't have any problems on tour, and lasted until the end. However, I didn't last on the horn line bus for too long -- the majority of my friends were in the PIT! Strange how that turned out, but that's how it happened. I ended up moving to the drum line/percussion bus, which had no air conditioning on the passenger side for three-fourths of the tour. I sat on the left side, so it didn't affect me as much. This bus was the same make and model as 503, so I had to cram all of my snacks, and other small items, into the small space allotted. I'd have to say I would have rather been on the color guard bus, because it smelled so much better all throughout the tour ... but what's drum corps without stinky feet, body odors, sweaty arm pits, old food and dirty shoes hung from the overhead vents? That's exactly what the drum line bus was, but it was easy to deal with. At least the air conditioning was fixed on our three-day journey home from Florida to Seattle. Can you imagine three days straight in what was just described to you? There are so many things that come to mind when I think of drum corps, and the Seattle Cascades, but those things I mentioned here today, are things that I captured and held on to, because they meant a lot to me (and I'm not saying that everything else didn't). But we always have those few things that stick out to us the most. This summer was amazing, and it saddens me that I have to age-out next year, and leave the performing portion of drum corps behind. But I guess I will have to do everything in my power to go out with a
BANG! Stay tuned to Accelerando, more corps members will be adding their reflections of their corps tour here as well. Musically yours, Matthew J. Smith

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