By Robyn Brody A report from the fourth Blue Stars camp of the season. The season is upon us! Well, not really. But it sure felt like it this weekend! The Blue Stars had a full corps camp this weekend in Mounds View, Minn.
Now I can officially say that I have risked my life for my corps. We had a warm week here in the upper Midwest, but by mid-Friday were back to sub-freezing temperatures. This meant super-slick roads. I believe we passed at least 25 cars that had spun off or flipped onto the side of the road. Needless to say, it was slow going, and by the time I got to the camp site at about 10 p.m., only about 75 percent of the corps had made it. The horn line was in rehearsal when I arrived, so I immediately set my stuff down in the hall, grabbed my mello, and joined them in arch. Even with only three-fourths of the horns there, the sound was full and potent. One of our assignments from last camp was to memorize one of the chorales we've been working on, the horn line arrangement of our corps song and the opener. So we got to it. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it sounded from my vantage point, it didn't really sound any different than when we had music. Of course, it wasn't perfect (I'll admit that there were a few notes here and there that I kept getting tripped up on), but there are a lot of notes in that opener, and I was proud of the horn line. They obviously had all worked on the materials in between camps. We were told to bring swimsuits to camp, because our school facilities included an indoor pool that we were able to use after rehearsal! Of course, I had music theory homework and Central Asian History readings to slave over, so I personally did not partake in the aquatic festivities. Snoring in the night was greatly reduced from last camp. This I was happy to discern as I snuggled into my air mattress and mulled over how much I loved being around the people in the corps. It's funny how you can go months without seeing your corps friends, but when you finally do, it's still obvious that they know and understand you better than everyone else. All the private jokes and stupid sayings that no one else understands retain their full comedic value; big huge hugs are the standard form of greeting; a certain enigmatic quality of ardor begins to fill the empty space. Well, Friday night always kind of sets the tone for the weekend, and Saturday was quite a fulfilling day of rehearsal. It was a standard drum corps day: Up early, stretch, run, visual basics, subsectionals, full sections, ensemble (some eating in there as well). We had some excitement of getting the final two tunes of the show, plus an extended ballad. I've said it about our music already, but "Wow!" This music is so fun, energetic, challenging and just cool. Did I say challenging? We had the added luxury of having former Blue Star and current brass arranger John Wasson (a.k.a. "The Man") at our disposal this weekend. What a talented, engaging man. He sat in on all of our rehearsals, ready to adapt and modify his arrangements on the spot whenever needed. It was very neat to see that if John changed something (whether it be notes, rhythms, articulations), it was instantly better. He had a great ear for knowing what exactly needed to be changed in order for us to play the music as well as it was written. On Sunday we rode the wave of momentum that was created on Friday and got ready for show and tell. Due to snowstorms that were rapidly encroaching the area, we had to move the performance up a bit, but it went off without a hitch. The brass line performed "America/O'Canada," "Jewish Chorale" (the corps song), the show opener and ballad with full ensemble, and the show closer with just horns. I was just disappointed that we didn't perform the second piece of the show, which we had worked hard on all weekend! But the time will come soon enough. I had to keep mentally pinching myself because at times, I just couldn't believe that it was only February. Or that the mellophone section that I was in had ten people in it! On Friday night at camp, I used my cell phone to take a picture of my friend Mizu, specifically his new tattoo (Don't leave now! There really is a point to this story!). In between his shoulder blades, he has the word "drum" in Japanese kanjis enclosed in a blue star, with the banner "Finis Coronat Opus." That means, "The end crowns the work." It is the Blue Stars motto. Well, I saved it as my background, and every time I open my cell phone, it catches my attention. I was thinking today how, like Mizu's tattoo, the corps is always with me, and always will be. The memories and experiences I've had, and especially the identity that I have forged because of the corps, are permanently engrained in me. That's really cool. So I'm just thinking -- what does this season hold for me? I'm impatient, because of weekends like these that I don't want to end. I've said it before that this corps (meaning this Blue Stars, as it is right now) is something amazing. Not potentially, not "going to be," it is. So when do I get to leave the real world and dedicate my life to it? Not soon enough. Robyn Brody is a third-year mellophone player for the Blue Stars. "I drove 2,000 miles in May of 2002 with no idea what I was getting into, and now I'm hooked. I even moved to Madison in part so that I could be close to the family that I so quickly acquired," Brody said. She is a music education student at the University of Wisconsin.