A ‘Borg and a Baritone #19: “Intensity!”


Friday, 5/25

Other than the Greyhound leaving about an hour late from Louisville, there wasn’t much happening on Friday, and that’s a good thing! I managed to knock out the Labs for Chapter 4 of my Systems Architecture class, got to watch TV, and chill. That’s how more Friday nights on the road should be!


Saturday, 5/26

I will preface this by saying that Saturday was the hardest rehearsal I’ve had with the Cincinnati Tradition… and that’s not a bad thing.

I started the day not with Stretch Block but with Prop Assembly. Our Prop Builder, Sergio, showed us how to assemble the props that we will use for our show – I won’t spoil what they are, yet! Each prop has 2 people working on it; it didn’t take too long to unload and assemble them. i got to meet my prop partner and a few of his friends on the Color Guard side – cool!

With the threat of a pop-up thunderstorm looming, our game plan changed a little bit: Drill in the morning, Drill and Sectionals in the afternoon, and Sectionals, Drill, and some Full Ensemble in the evening. The morning Drill setting went well, in terms of what we reviewed and what we got on to the field (nearly all of “Without Warning). In terms of execution, I don’t what happened with our Section (the Baritones and Euphoniums) but we were missing everything: bad entrances, fracked notes, missed step-offs, even missed sets. It’s usually not a good thing for the Visual Staff to get on parts of your section, multiple times, before 1:00. Hopefully, we will tighten up the reins, after lunch.

Lunch was a quick run to Subway (where I ordered for lunch and dinner), then a meeting with the Low Brass I&E group (Individual & Ensemble). We went over the opening of our song for a few minutes prior to the afternoon block.

Afternoon Drill was where I made a couple of those “big” mistakes I’ve tried to avoid, so far: missed a halt by 2 counts and missed a set by at least 2 steps. However, I was surprised that I remember as much of the drill as I did. I’d spent most of last week during mental run-throughs at work and at home but didn’t do a lot of “feet work” (Mark Timing, marching, moving, etc.). I also did well on memorization, only missing a couple of notes, here and there. By the end of the afternoon session, I think the heat (somewhere north of 90 degrees), humidity (at least 50%), and pollen had sapped a lot of us.

We had a slight delay with rain but started the evening session relatively on time, in Full Brass. The struggles of our section boiled over during warm-ups: someone came in a full count early on a simple exercise. Andrew, our Brass Caption Head, let us have it. I can’t say we didn’t deserve it; too many silly mistakes, all day. However, we proceeded to have some of our best reps of the month, at the end of the day. The corps, as a whole, ended with a good Full Ensemble, although we didn’t quite get all of the drill on the field.

I was personally drained, spent, and physically hurting, at the end of Saturday… although it wasn’t the shoulders that were the culprit. The “culprit” title belonged to the left foot (toes 1-3), the right big toe, and the hip. I went back to the room, watched a little TV, did a blog post, showered, then CRASHED.

Sunday 5/27

We got a few extra minutes to sleep in today, since we ran long last last. Today’s storm chance was much higher and for most of the day, so we did Visuals 1st again. This was my first Stretch Block with the Visual Caption Head, Kendra. Whereas Jesse would warm us up with dynamic stretches and movements, Kendra went with the more “traditional” stretches, gradually going into more movement-based warmups. It was an interesting change.

Visuals and Drill Setting went better for the Bari-Euphs. Although there were still a few mistakes, it was nothing like Saturday morning and evening. There are some some insane moves with us and the Trumpets that I would love to see from above. Nick (Show Coordinator), Andrew, and Bryan (Visual Staff) rehearsed and repped chunks of “Without Warning”, to get some more of the Percussion and Guard members in the drill; 1 or 2 Brass players were worked in, as well. We (as a Corps) got some good remarks from Nick; we (as a Section) got some good remarks from Andrew and Nick!

Then the storms came.

The first delay came right after lunch:

That delay went about 20 minutes. The 2nd one happened around 3:00 and that one involved lightning. Nick and the Staff decided to call off the rest of rehearsal – rain is one thing, lightning is a whole different level. So, ended up with the 2nd song on the field but not a ton of reps to let the new sets sink into memory. That will take some mental reps at home.

My self-critique, starting with ‘cons’ to get them out of the way:


  • “Cleaning and Retaining”. I have most of the sets down but I’m not comfortable with a few of them, especially in “Phrygian Gates”. Mental reps at home, physical reps at home and at rehearsals, and those issue should clear up.
  • “Processing”. I feel a tick slow, when it comes to remembering new sets, immediately. If I get a few minutes to let everything mentally digest, I’m good. It’s when we get 4 or 5 sets in a row, rep them a few times, then go on to the next chunk, I struggle. That could fall under “Haven’t Done This in Years” but I don’t want to use excuses.
  • Although much better than January and February, my left elbow still wants to sink. I am going to do something that Minnesota Brass did when I was there, and there might be considerable grumbling when I do it: “Bari Treats”.

    It’s a Horn Holding exercise, with a couple of twists:
    1) You hold the horn up, as a Section, at the end of rehearsals;  in my case, I’ll do it when I am most exhausted or at the end of the day.
    2) You hold up it for 1-3 minutes; however, for the last 20-30 seconds, you elevate your bell an additional 10 degrees. Basically, “To The Box”.
    It works on endurance and arm strength. I’ll try it a few times at home and see how it goes.
  • Inconsistent step sizes. My 1st 2 steps in a set are too small; Tony (Tuba/Low Brass Tech), marching behind me, noticed it a couple of times in the last few sets of “Without Warning”. 


  • “Music”. This was arguably the best camp of the season for me, playing-wise. Other than a few fracked notes, most everything else felt good. Let’s make this weekend even better!
  • “Shoulders”. For the first time, I went home on Sunday night and the shoulders were not painful to move. In fact, they really weren’t terribly stiff on Monday morning, either! Trust me, there was much work put into the shoulders.
  • I remembered almost everything that I mentally repped in the 1st half of “Without Warning” – sets and music – even after working around a work trip on Wednesday (to Cincinnati, ironically) and podcast recordings on Tuesday and Thursday.

Every experience, from here on out, will be new to me. With the Derby City Knights, we originally had a field show in 2008 but ended up with a ton of holes, at the end; ’07 was Mini Corps, and ’09-’10 was Brass Ensemble. With the Minnesota Brass, I helped with their Morristown parade, didn’t perform in the first competition, and was out by the 2nd. Now, I get to feel and see the preparation that goes into the last few weeks before an opening performance. June 16th is our Community Preview Show, June 23rd is our first competition. I have 5 rehearsal days to get ready. I have a feeling that the intensity level of this past weekend will only go up as the calendar ticks towards mid-June.


We put the ballad on the field, this weekend. I’ll see you next Monday!

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