Lanah Kopplin will be contributing columns to each Tuesday. Here's her 14th installment. Another chapter of my life has come to a close.

Lanah Kopplin
Sunday marked the end of my undergraduate career here at the University of Wisconsin. After only five semesters, I can proudly lay claim to my very own college degree. This magic piece of paper is the starting point to my future, as well as the key element in fulfilling an 11-year desire of mine. ^First, the background: When I was in fourth grade, I had the most amazing teacher that elementary education has ever witnessed -- Mrs. Zaffrann. She was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite teachers. She taught us lessons well beyond the scope of our curriculum, without our ever realizing it. Each student was assigned a classroom job, with its own responsibilities and pay scale. At the end of each week, we received a paycheck, and had to keep our own records of our bank accounts. Additionally, these "Scholar Dollars" were redeemable at the classroom store, where one could purchase anything from pens and pencils to extra minutes of recess for both of the fourth grade classes. It was ingenious. These simple incentives prompted us to engage in fiscal responsibility as well as interpersonal communication and coordination, all in the attempt to obtain a little more time on the kickball field. During one of our planning sessions, Mrs. Zaffrann caught a student sitting on top of his desk. He was immediately prompted to remove himself from the desktop, and instead opt for the safer alternative of a chair. After recess, Mrs. Zaffrann gave the entire class a lecture on the importance of protecting both ourselves and our classroom furniture. One week later, we caught Mrs. Zaffrann sitting on top of her own desk! Of course, we immediately reminded her of the classroom policy. She quickly replied that these rules did not apply to her, as she had received a college education. Additionally, when any one of us had received our college degree, we were invited to come back and sit on her desk. Although many of my fellow classmates have forgotten about this contract, the incident is still fresh in my memory. Now that I have received my college degree, I will be returning to my elementary alma mater for the opportunity to complete a deal forged 11 years ago. Knowing Mrs. Zaffrann, she'll remember the deal, and be more than happy to oblige. This weekend was also Phantom Regiment's December camp. We received revision number one of our 2005 production "Rhapsody" and it is absolutely astounding. I am really excited to age-out with this show! I thought that the euphonium soli that we had in 2003's closer "Ostinato" was cool, but we have some licks this year that completely blow that out of the water. Now we just have to prove that we can play them! This year there is an enormous emphasis on detail, for each and every individual. This weekend, each of the euphonium players was given a one-on-one lesson with one of our staff members, and received individualized attention to the most basic of concepts. It was an eye-opening experience for me to realize just how little I knew about brass playing, as well as how much work I really have left to do in order to improve my technique! But fear not, for I have taken these lessons to heart and will come back a much better player. Visually, our technique was once again broken down into its most basic elements, and reconstructed from the bottom up. Once again, we received individual attention, and I learned of my tendency to roll my ankles out on my backwards technique. I think this staff is going to save me from a lot of ankle pain this summer! I have a lot of work to get done before I can take the field this summer, but I have never been more excited in my life. This will definitely be an age-out to remember. Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah is a political science major at the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native), and will age out in 2005. Past columns by Lanah Kopplin: Like spring training Finding a drum corps home The Last audition Turkey-induced tryptophan Rhapsody in the chat room Amazing grace Are you ready? Get out there and vote Reflections from Whitewater Methodical hard work and passion Here's to the behind-the-scenes people Drum corps friendships A new column by the Phantom Regiment's Lanah Kopplin