Memo to: Members, future members, fans, alumni, staff, administration Re: It's that time. The next part of the drum corps off-season. The winter. I am excited, but -- it's the winter. The march towards Madison begins in school gymnasiums across the United States and Canada as early as next weekend for a number of corps. Preliminary audition weekends begin soon. There are future drum corps members from Maine to California, North Dakota to Texas. All of them preparing their audition pieces, exercises, etudes, solos and foot technique. Some people will get their first experience with drum corps next weekend. Others will audition for the second, third, fourth, fifth time, hoping for a spot in the corps they've always wanted to march. Two weeks from now, I will begin my eighth season as a member, and my 19th season of at least fan-level involvement with drum corps. And my most important knowledge about drum corps off-season comes into play in two weeks. You're probably going to hate the winter. First-time members, it will be tough. Having to abandon schoolwork and jobs for three days to get trained, physically and mentally, for what you are about to do this summer, is not easy. It is much easier to go away for two and a half months. By day three of camp, when you are just starting to feel a drum corps rhythm, you have to go home, come back, and start all over again in a couple of weeks. No matter how much preparation you put in between camps, it will always be a complete mental, physical and cultural shock from school/home to drum corps. You are going to be very sore, very tired, and almost completely burned out on drum corps. And then, you have to travel all the way home from camp. Travel is one of the most difficult parts about winter camps. I have almost always driven to camp, minus one flight from Chicago to Lexington in 2004. It's about a five-hour drive from Champaign to Lexington/Winchester/Paris, Kentucky. It gets worse around January, trying to complete the drive in the snow/sleet/rain/sky falling. With four or five people in the car, plus sleeping gear and camp materials, it gets tight. And you are already tired from the college sleep schedule, and it's only Friday afternoon. Camp starts and ends, you are exhausted, ready to get back to your home and sleep, but you know you have that long paper on American modernist lit/educational policy/ethics in computer science due tomorrow. So you get home around 10:30 p.m., pry your eyes open until 1 a.m. trying to get this awful thing done, then wake up at 7:30 to go to class. Oh my God. Why am I doing this?! Eight years! Because this is what I was born to do. I can only do it for two more years, and if it means a few extra hours on a paper, a tough weekend at camp, and a crowded car ride, I'll take it. Members, new and old, remember: The winter is the hard part. June will be here before you know it.
Developing an overall sense of musicianship Off-season but on task Redefinition: An off-season practice What to do during winter vacation