A ‘Borg and a Baritone #18: “Drill”

My first full outdoor weekend camp was a big success, despite one ‘small’ moment with Greyhound – and it wasn’t their fault, this time! – and some ‘small-medium’ marching moments!

Friday, 5/17

The Greyhound adventures continue.

I arrived at Louisville’s station about 2:50, walking over after work; bus is supposed to pull out between 3:40 and 3:50. It arrived at about 4:50 and left around 5:10.

That wasn’t the problem.

The problem was with me. When I bought the tickets, I auto-filled the form… and didn’t pay attention that my name wasn’t on the ticket. So, imagine my surprise when I checked in and my name didn’t pop up… and I couldn’t get on said bus. So, new ticket, next bus left at about 7:15, got in Cincy at a little over 9:00, and got to Sharonville around 9:30. 

Lesson learned.


Saturday, 5/18

Saturday was a long, hot, exhausting day… and those aren’t always bad things. I tend to mentally split those days up into 3 chunks: up to lunch (about 3 hours), from after lunch to dinner (about 2.5 hours), and from dinner to dismissal (about 2.5 hours).

Chunk 1 was a mental endurance lesson. We were in Low Brass Sectionals and mainly worked on “Without Warning” (song 2) but we also refreshed ‘rehearsal etiquette’ – basically, hustle back to your spot (in the arc, at the last set, etc.), pay attention when someone’s on the podium, and don’t pout/’self-loathe’ if someone gets on you. I didn’t see it happen but it must have happened; it was brought up by Garrett, Andrew, and Show Coordinator Nick, by the end of Sunday’s rehearsal. As a whole, the effort was there with section; there were some flubs and missed entrances but it will get clean with work at home plus reps in practice.


After lunch, Brass went to drill setting for song 2. This was my first experience with “Drill By Fire”. All I can say is “WOW!” That session had a lot to digest. Fortunately, we got 15 sets on the field, with some music accompaniment (Percussion wasn’t out there, at the time). I made quite a few mistakes, mainly with me missing step-offs. If you, Blog Reader, will allow me a rare moment, I will make an excuse: I couldn’t get everything processed quick enough. The solution: home work. I will take my dots, download the .wav files for the 1st 2 songs, find a football field, and just rinse and repeat chunks of the drill. This is where I’m glad that the Drillbook phone app is still available – all of my dots for the 1st 2 songs are in there.


Following a good but small dinner, Brass, Percussion, and Guard met in Full Ensemble. New Guard and Percussion members, plus a couple of Brass that missed the morning, got their sets and we worked them into the drill. During a run of a chunk of drill, my hip popped – not a huge one but a noticeable one. It was sore the rest of the evening. I cleaned up most of the mental mistakes (missed step offs, missed halts) but made a few drill mistakes (missing my dot by more than a step, for example). One that I’m not too thrilled with is going to the wrong set. Overall, we (corps) had a solid Chunk 3 and overall rehearsal!


My glorious, post-rehearsal plans were to finish up labs for my Systems Architecture class and maybe read a little bit, after a shower and dinner. Instead, after shower and dinner, I *CRASHED*. It was much needed. 😉


Sunday 5/19

Sunday started with a quick and good breakfast. I checked out of the hotel early enough to get to the field early enough to fill in more of my paper dot book. Warm-ups were abs-focused but we did a lot of stretching afterwards. I wish the stretching part went another 20 minutes – I needed every second of it!

We then went into a brief Chunk 1: there were thunderstorms in, and approaching, the are, so Nick made the call to end the day by 3:30, instead of 6:00. We spent half of the morning in Sectionals, half in reviewing drill. On one of the runs of drill, my hip popped again; while not as bad as Saturday evening, it still was uncomfortable. Only a few sets later, it popped a 3rd time… and the too part of my leg and hip went tingly, then felt like it was on fire. A personal dilemma now is with me: sit out some runs (and miss some good rep time) or stay out there (and risk not being able to move fast enough to get to my set)? I sat out the last 10 minutes, with some ice on my hip. It felt like “an old man” injury (like the picture at the top of this post) and, to be honest, I hated leaving a hold, even if it were brief. What saved my bacon: lunch and little movement. GRRR.


After lunch, we spent most of the time reviewing “Without Warning” and “Phrygian Gates”. We marched quite a bit (mainly chunks of sets, to get those who missed last week or the Saturday rehearsal into the show), counted sets in place, and played and Mark Timed. However, when we tried to run bigger sets, we all (including me) were… “off”. There were late step offs, missed entrances, even a few near-collisions. Andrew and Nick got on everyone, including the Baritones (esp. the 3rds) a bit but it wasn’t a screaming, in-your-face thing; both of their messages were “Get your head in the game!”. This is where the “don’t self-loathe” and “don’t pout” messages come in. I don’t know who was pouting or hanging their heads – I didn’t see or hear anything – but Nick, then Andrew (both on the tower), then Garrett (field level) all mentioned it… and all of them looked at our section. Jacob (our Section Leader) gave us all some good advice: “Just breathe.” That can go for anything from running to marching/playing to emotions. Don’t take being called out personally. 😉

The rain got really close, so we did a few more runs before setting up the arc, playing “Phyrgian Gates”, and calling it a day. I made it through most of the “Without Warning” runs before the hip got stiff and painful (thankfully, it didn’t pop again); I sat out the full run of Gates and the first full run of Warning. If it’s still an issue on Monday afternoon, I’ll have it look at.


I got to the Greyhound station around 4, which would have been a near 6 hour wait for the bus. Instead, I dodged raindrops and went to a nearby casino (only lost a little!) and a tavern for dinner (with an amazing Bleu Cheese burger!). Around 7, the Greyhound ticket counter worker, who now knows me by name (with all of the traveling), told me that my bus now doesn’t have a driver (they switch in Cincinnati) and it would be 3-4 hours before they could get one, pushing the departure time back to 12-1:30 AM. One woman was not thrilled about that. The worker and his boss arranged for 4 of us – the woman, me, and 2 others who were really early checking in – to take an Uber van to Louisville, instead! I got home about an hour and a half early, allowing me to take medicine, sit back, and relax, before going to bed… all before 12:30!


I self-critique a lot. I think that:

Musically – I improved from last week. I played with more confidence, had a bigger volume, and felt pretty comfortable playing the first 2 pieces without music. I missed some entrances and hung over once but those were more “mental” mistakes.

Marching – overall, I dipped, slightly. I’m more comfortable with what we learned this weekend than what we learned for “Gates”. But man, there were too many mistakes that I normally wouldn’t make, like being 2-3 steps off, when my set is on a yard line. I’ve got to fix that by Saturday.

Physically – despite the hip, I think I improved slightly. Neither shoulder bothered me while playing, except once (Saturday, end of the afternoon session, for about 3 minutes). The left toes were sore but not hurting; the right big toe was hurting. I still tend to drop my left elbow but it didn’t happen as frequently.


We continue to move forward! Next week, we’ll probably finish the sets for “Warning” and put our 3rd song, “Sanctuary” (our ballad) on the field. I have a busy week: a podcast recording about the series finale of “Game of Thrones”, a GoT Retrospective recording, and a work trip to Cincinnati, plus whatever drill study and marching time I can squeeze in. Monday, other than work, studying, and school Lab work, is a “not leaving the house!” day.

Thanks for reading – see ya in a week!

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