40 ’til 40: #7 and #8

Continuing the list of 40 memorable moments of my life….

#7: First Time Flying

March 2003 was my first time in the skies. I was in the Pep Band at the University of Louisville and half of us were traveling to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament First Round game in Orlando, Florida.

I strangely wasn’t nervous while we were waiting… and waiting… and waiting in the airport. I was a mix of excited and, I guess, apprehensive, once we were on the plane. Those feelings were enhanced because some friends, sitting with me and across the aisle from me, were also on their first flight… and a couple of them were shaking nervous.

The takeoff was weird. We were moving so fast, down the runway, then… weightlessness! Once we were in the air, it was fine. Hitting turbulence was very weird – it was like hitting loose gravel and potholes for about a mile straight. But, we all got there, safe and sound, and the trip home (early, because Louisville lost to Butler in the first round) was pretty smooth. I’ve only been on a plane on 2 other trips, but that 1st trip was memorable!

#8: Tryout: 2000 Phantom Regiment

I mentioned in my last post that I was in the Derby City Knights (“DCK”) Drum & Bugle Corps in 2007. However, my first personal experience with Drum & Bugle Corps wasn’t with DCK; it was actually 7 years earlier.

DCK performed on the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) circuit, comprised of groups with few age restrictions. There is also their more famous cousin circuit, Drum Corps International (DCI), with groups that have members up to 21 years old (22, if your birthday happens during that season). It is DCI where, in the winter of 1999, I tried out for the Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps, a group based in Rockford, Illinois.

There were quite a few ‘firsts’ during that tryout weekend. That was the first time that I had been outside of Louisville, on my own – every other time leaving the city, it was for something Band or Quick Recall-related, and with a group. It was the first time riding a Greyhound bus – I had saved up enough money to get to and from Rockford, plus buy food and, if needed, stay in a hotel on the way home. It was also the first time that I had played a Baritone bugle. The horn was in the key of G, not the B flat (Treble Clef) or C(Bass Clef) that I was used to.

The tryouts themselves were hard. From what I remember, there were a couple of hours of marching fundamentals, in small groups, in sections, and with the entire Brass section. There was also a portion where you played a prepared piece for members of the staff; my piece was “Memory”, from the ‘Cats’ musical. The judges were pretty cool about the solo playing: they reinforced to us to basically “breathe” – don’t fret so much over your piece that you make uncharacteristic mistakes. I played okay: nothing to write home about but not horrible, either.

We then rode the buses – “riding a Corps bus”: another ‘first’ – to lunch, then returned for an hour or two of a Brass playing sectional. I remember the name of the piece – “Nimrod” – but had to Google a video to remember what it sounded like. 

I was a lip-sore (I hadn’t played that much, or nearly that intensely, since the end of my Senior of HS, 3 year prior), stiff, exhausted, happy mess, by the time the tryouts were over.  I did not make the cut that day, which was my one and only shot at a DCI corps; neither I nor my parents had the money to tryout for a 2nd corps. In hindsight, I should have tried out in 1998, so that I would have had a full year to save money and work on stuff for 1999. Nevertheless, I learned a lot and had a tremendous amount of fun with the Phantom Regiment in the winter of 1999. I also had a lot of co-workers at Target that were cheering for me – I’ll always remember and appreciate that!

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