A ‘Borg and a Baritone #20: “Turned a Corner!”

2 personal goals for this past weekend were to get more comfortable with learning new drill, as well as marching as much of our Opener as possible without burying my face in drill dots (“dots”: ‘spots where I am supposed to be on the field, in different formations’). More after the Break!


Saturday, 6/1
Saturday was a combination Logistics – Drill Setting day. Some members were being fitted for uniforms and shakos; the rest went on with the schedule, starting with Warmups. Kendra (Visual Caption Head) took us through a variety of breathing and stretching exercises. Muscles were stretched that I didn’t know I had. 😉 We ended the day with a heart beat-raising, ankle strengthening exercise called “Daft Punk”: basically, jumping and moving to the beat of the song linked above. It’s a fun way to end a warm up… when the body cooperates.
After that, it was a little over 90 minutes of setting drill for “Sanctuary” (our ballad) and about an hour of Low Brass Sectionals (Baritones/Euphoniums/Tubas). There are a lot of sets and sub-sets for Sanctuary but the drill feels easier than the other 2 pieces. We had to adjust the counts on a section of sub-sets but it wasn’t anything major. There will be some visuals added down the road but, for this weekend, we accomplished our goal of getting the ballad set on the field! Even better, I didn’t run into and kill another Bari or Euph! 😉

Lunch was a cold Dinty Moore Beef Stew bowl and a granola bar, purchased from a gas station, earlier in the morning. It worked – I didn’t pack a lunch. A few of our I&E group looked over our piece, while having a rare (for me) moment to chat with other members of the corps.

After lunch, it was mainly drill review on “Without Warning” (our 2nd piece). It was warm but not really hot, with a good breeze. That helped us, I think: it felt like we got a LOT reviewed and even got a touch of cleaning in on a trouble spot. For me, I finally got comfortable with marching a chunk of sets near the center of “Without Warning”, although I’m going to work on them some more at home. Unfortunately, my right foot, for the first time in a long time, decided to flare up. Other than that, it was a good afternoon session.

After a dinner with Kyle (Euph) and Sam (Trumpet), we ended the night with about an hour and a half of Full Brass with Andrew and the last hour or so of Full Ensemble.
Andrew taught us a new technique for clean and in-tune playing, which I will definitely use away from the field. We also worked on volume/dynamics: playing in control when loud, and playing distinct crescendos and decresendos. It’s still a work in progress (volume-wise) with most of our section; we are getting better with “putting air through the horn”, though.

Full Ensemble was a review of “Without Warning” and our opener (“Phrygian Gates”). I had some reservations about marching full Opener runs (because I missed those runs a couple of weeks ago). However, I think I did better than expected. Just needed a run to build confidence… and a few small review chunks to refresh the memory, first. Overall, between marching, playing, and doing both at once, it was perhaps my day of the season!

I got back to my room, afterwards, and had some weird spasms and cramps. My lower legs cramped a little but my foot started spasming. Not sure what caused the spasms.

Sunday, 6/2

Sunday was mainly a 2-part affair: Drill Review before lunch, Playing and Marching after lunch. This time, Kat (our new Associate Drum Major) warmed us up for most of the Stretch Block, with Kendra taking over for “Daft Punk”. Unfortunately for me, that last bit aggravated my right big toe, because I could barely put weight on it for a while afterwards.

The morning Drill Review went well but some of the Staff noticed that a few members were getting frustrated with… whatever was frustrating them, drill wise. Andrew later addressed it with the Brass, after lunch, basically telling us ‘calm down’. I know that in my case, the drill wasn’t frustrating me, it was that toe (actually, it was a lot of feet issues, but that toe was the loudest problem). I sat out the last 15 minutes of the morning block, taping the toe and bracing the right foot. I did play along to the music, on the sidelines, so I didn’t feel totally useless.

Lunch was Subway with Jacob (Section Leader) and Lawrence (newest Euph), and the bestest feeling ever (only because I wasn’t standing). A combo of not moving, water, and tape/brace calmed that foot down a lot.

“Air Force 1” was our destination after lunch. That is where Andrew, with Garrett, Jake, Ray, and Tony in front of their various sections, did various warm ups and drills on getting a distinct sound for the group. Our section, according to Garrett, made some big progress on overall sound – cool!

This was also where my Music Binder met its untimely demise.

We had some strong winds on Sunday. A particularly big wind gust yanked my binder back open, somehow snapped the side pouch, and tried to scatter everything inside to the Four Winds. School forms, medical forms, and dot sheets went everywhere. Right before Andrew brought our horns up for an exercise. I lost one dot sheet and might have crumpled a couple of forms but the rest were saved by various Brass Staff members. I had already planned on reprinting dot sheets… now, I have no excuse not to. 😉

After a decent Full Brass sectional, we wrapped up the weekend back on the field in Full Ensemble – Brass, Battery, Front Ensemble, and Color Guard, moving and playing. 

This is where my Dot Book finally met its demise.

My “Dot Book” is a small, spiral notebook where I not only write down what spot on the field I’m supposed to be at in a particular formation, but how many counts it took to get there and whether or not I’m holding. I also write down where in the music that particular spot is, are there any horn moves/body moves, and miscellaneous details about the music, such as dynamics, big hits, and not to miss a halt. Well, pages had started coming loose in that book, so I rewrote my entire book on Friday, stapled the dot sheets before my writings, and labeled each movement.

The wind laughed at that and essentially ripped the new pages loose. Time for a stronger book – a note card-based book. >:-)

Wind 2, Anthony 0.

Other than those defeats, Full Ensemble felt like another “turning the corner” moment, both personally and for the group. I *think* a lot of the later drill for “Without Warning” clicked for our section; we had a couple of holes from missing members but those who were here seemed to figure out where to go, without causing a wreck, safely. On my part, I (with Bryan (Visual Staff) and Justin (Bari) seeing it from behind) realized that I was drifting forward in a slide, about 1/2 to 1 full step. Once we (corps) got a couple more reps in, I found the correct path. This made the following 2 sets much easier and more comfortable. Sometimes, it’s the little tweaks and fixes that make your day!

For the corps, Kendra and the Visual Staff fixed some general sloppy movement and marching, Garrett made sure that the Bari/Euphs’ foot timing stayed on point, and Nick (Show Coordinator) tightened up some slow playing timing. I got the impression from the Staff that they were pleased with the progress we made on the field. It wasn’t perfect but it was better than last weekend and 2 weekends ago; as long as we keep trending upwards, we’re set up for success.

Cons (I like ending with ‘good’, so these come first):

  • Foot/toes. Toes on both feet were extremely painful on Sunday, the right one more so. I am going to get new insoles for the two pairs of shoes I’ve been using, not do too much walking the rest of today or Tuesday, and keep them taped and braced. I also will see if I can get an appointment with a Podiatrist soon.
  • Comfort level. This isn’t a full “con”, more of a “work in progress”. Same as last week: I need to make sure that I can comfortably march this show, without dot sheets, by the end of Sunday’s rehearsal. I feel much better about “Phrygian Gates”, feel OK about “Without Warning” (I’m slow with a few step offs), and am OK with “Sanctuary”. I will try to find a football field and work on them on Wednesday and/or Thursday.
  • Confidence?. I can’t let the prospect of missing sets – or drooping elbows – psych me out. I’ve got this!


  • “Phrygian Gates:. Saturday was the best I’ve felt about marching the opener! Now let’s see if I can improve even more on it.
  • Air. 5 months ago, I probably couldn’t have played through a 9 Count Tone warm up without breathing at least once, each segment. During Full Brass block, I had what Andrew described as a “Brass Epiphany”: this is what ‘using more air’ is supposed to feel like. 😉
  • Fitness. There was still a little shoulder pain on Sunday’s Full Brass block but there was almost none at work on Monday. In fact, only some stiffness (not counting the foot/toes) was the only thing I dealt with. Progress!
  • Weight. I hit a post-surgery low of 213.6 pounds on Monday morning. I might hit 205 by Finals!

Weekend #2 of June is on deck. It will be a cleaning weekend, with the ultimate goal of an entire show run or 2 by Sunday evening. I have to take care of the body, especially the feet, this week. I also have to make a new dot book and make sure that my sets are correct – mental reps of each piece, even if those are in small chunks! Our first performance is in less than 2 weeks, our first competition is in 3 weeks!

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