By Allison Owen If I had just one question I could ask after this weekend it would have to be, "Does the wind ALWAYS blow in Mississippi?" Friday afternoon, after a long, eight-hour drive, I was prepared for being dropped off at rehearsal, but instead my grandfather met us in Memphis and there was a surprise for me. Memphis Sound's horn line and drum lines were performing at the Memphis Grizzlies NBA pregame. It turns out that my parents had worked it all out so I could go to the game and watch the corps, as well as spend time with a relative I haven't seen in two years.
I made sure that we would be there with time to spare for the performance. As I sat there waiting for the corps to come out, I had the wonderful experience of explaining drum corps to my grandfather. He didn't really understand, especially the "sleeping on the floor" aspect. It was a great feeling for me to watch the ensemble perform our opener for the crowd; it was so cool to be able to say that I march with them. Something I was worried about for camp was my wrist. I found out recently that I have carpal tunnel syndrome. It's caused by repetitive motion and there are times when my hands just go numb. When I first found out I was devastated at the thought that if it were to get worse I might not be able to march. There are different options for fixing carpal tunnel and hopefully before next camp I will have gotten it fixed. I arrived at the school where the corps was rehearsing sometime Saturday morning. It was my first time being in Mississippi, so I tried to take in the surroundings and enjoy the scenery. The first thing I noticed was the sectionals that were taking place all over the school grounds. It was obvious to see that the wind was blowing by watching the music on the stands. As I glanced at each section I noticed the lack of clothing and the pale skin. Once I checked in I was told that the guard was in the cafeteria, so I headed in that direction. When I came in everyone gave me a warm greeting, and I realized just how much I love my guard. Kristin, the guard tech, told me to stretch out because I was just in time to start across-the-floors. After about an hour of body work, the guard headed outside to begin visual rehearsal. It was a nice breezy day, not too hot or cold -- just right for being out in the sun. Our visual tech, Jeremy, took us through an hour of marching basics. The time passed by rather quickly, in my opinion, and I learned the things that I missed at last camp due to my illness. I really enjoyed our visual rehearsal, one of my favorite things being marching boxes. (Interesting fact: I took a survey and more than 75 percent of the Memphis Sound guard seemed to enjoy marching boxes.) During the lunch break I was able to talk to my friends in other sections who didn't know I was at camp. It was a nice time to relax and just talk. We started off by tracking after lunch. The wind was extremely fierce at some times, but the guard pushed through. Since my wrists and hands were giving out at times I stayed in the back of the line. I would march along and cheer the rest of the guard on as I attempted to get the feeling back in my hands. We tracked around the school a few times, passing the horn line and drum line every time around. Later that evening some said we looked like a giant centipede as we went by. After tracking we worked on flag exercises. The wind was still blowing, but we pushed through. Once again I was in the back of the block because I would have to air some the work due to my numb hand. We worked on flagwork for a few hours and then headed into the gym to learn some show work on rifle. This was the first time I had learned a rifle routine, so I was excited to try something new. As we headed to dinner break I saw the horn line and drum line coming inside. Following the dinner break the corps walked to the school's stadium. We sat in the stands for a little corps meeting about what would take place in that very stadium exactly three months from that day -- our first home show. It was exciting and a little nerve-wracking as well to think that in less than three months we will be at the end of our first tour. We just sat there for a few minutes, just imagining how much of a different atmosphere there would be the same school in June. Once the corps was dismissed to sectionals the guard went tracking again -- this time we were even more together than in the afternoon. "Arts and crafts" was next. This consisted of us stripping the flagpoles and retaping and weighting them. As we worked we talked about drum corps and guard-related things -- it was a good bonding experience. That night before snack we had a corps meeting, covering some more basic drum corps information. For snack there were six different ice cream cakes that were each decorated in our corps color: Purple. A few of us quickly devoured our cake so we could get a shower first -- there were only four stalls -- before lights-out. Sunday morning found everyone sore and tired. We had worked extremely hard the day before, but there was still work to be done. We spent the morning rehearsing various things, including jazz runs with the horn line and cleaning the show work. During the lunch break we began cleaning the cafeteria. Then we rehearsed some more and before I knew it, it was time for show and tell. Show and tell went very well; the ensemble played the majority of the show. The guard tossed triples and quads -- quite a few of us have never spun weapons before corps -- and performed our show work to the opener. After a few minor cleaning details it was time to head on home. The weekend was very productive and I had a lot of fun. Of course the pain might not be fun and it's easy to get frustrated, but I've reached the point where I just love working hard to make the drum corps better. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really tired and sore, but no one could wipe the grin off of my face when I left Mississippi on Sunday. I met so many more people at camp this weekend and I look forward to meeting even more. This camp was the hardest I've worked in a long time and I know it won't be the last. However, the effort that I had to put out this weekend only makes me want to practice harder and be ready for the next camp. Hopefully I'll be getting my wrists taken care of soon, but until then I've got a lot of practicing, stretching and running to do.
A Saturday afternoon rehearsal block.