A ‘Borg and a Baritone #23A: “First Show – DCI Zionville”

Well, I finally made it. After the long hours of rehearsals at Silverton (in the winter) and Sharonville (in the spring and summer), I made to my first performance (of any kind) since at least June 2013, my first DCA contest (of any kind) since the 2010 Drum Corps Associates (DCA) World Championships, and my first marching contest (of any kind) since August 2008! I am very much feeling it, right now. 😉

Friday and Saturday, 6/21 – 6/22
The big thing for me on Friday was that I was off from work, both and Thursday and Friday; those were my 3rd and 4th off-days since Mother’s Day (May 11th). I actually went into a CT weekend without leaving straight from work – it was a nice change!
Greyhound was an hour late again; at this point, that’s about the norm. I won’t complain… too much. 😉
I also won’t bore you too much with small details about Saturday’s rehearsal, such as particular chunks of one song that we worked on. Nevertheless, we went 11 hours (10A – 9P), cleaning as many rough spots as possible, both in the drill and in the music. The Color Guard ironed out some paths and props staging in “Without Warning” and “Sanctuary”. The Percussion worked on some new parts (or re-writes to music, I’m not sure which happened) for “Wind River”. The Brass had partial runs of everything, with a full-out run (show-like marching and playing run, with a brief break between songs) of songs 2 and 3, and the addition of a standstill playing of 2/3 of “Wind River”. It greatly helped; with me, those runs of “Without Warning” got me more comfortable with those sets that I mentioned in my last post. After some delays with prop disassembly, I finally headed back to the hotel (this time, Ramada Plaza in Sharonville, OH, on a really good rate), got in, ate a quick meal, showered, wrapped as much of my feet as possible, and called it a night. Matt (fellow Euphonium player) was picking me up around 5:15 (then grabbing 2 others) for trip to Zionville.


Sunday, 6/23
Show Day.The carpool – myself, Matt, Madison (Mellophone), and Danny (Mellophone) – left the Hamilton/Fairfield area around 5:45 AM. It was a fun car ride, with some fun conversations!
We got to Zionville Community High School around 8:15, with a report time/trailers unload time of 9:00.


The school’s stadium has FieldTurf, which is 50 TIMES better to march on than Astro Turf: FieldTurf is a combination of natural grass, turf, and rubber pellets for stability, water drainage, and shock absorption.

Percussion and Guard

Rehearsal started an hour later. With some spectators in the stand – cool! – we continued from Saturday night, starting with relatively easy warm-ups from Andrew (Brass Caption Head) to save our lips. The focus of the early hours was the last half of “Sanctuary” and the first parts of “Wind River”.

Lunch was catered Subway and a variety of sides. Thank you to our volunteer team, again!

Post-lunch rehearsal was a rapid fire, set-chunk reps of all 3 songs. For me, those reps weren’t bad; they weren’t great but they weren’t bad. My issues were physical: I can normally block out the pain from the torn Plantar Plate and whatever is going on with my right big toe (that checkup was delayed due to some logistical problems) but I struggled big-time to do that on Sunday. As for the Brass, we had a decent beginning and a pretty good ending but the Staff didn’t like something that they were hearing or seeing in the middle of the afternoon rehearsal, so we had a “turn it around, push the reset button” talk with Andrew during a break. It helped!

We had a couple of hours to shower, grab dinner, and do anything else you needed to do (polish your horn, buy socks, sleep, drive, etc.) before reporting back to the stadium at 6:00. 

We (Brass) re-warmed with Andrew, got dressed, and headed over to meet with the Percussion, for a final few chunks of rehearsal. Once that was over, it was time to line up at the gates.I might have gotten a few fluttery-heart moments on the walkover to the stadium gates: I had been looking forward to that moment for over 10 years! ;-D

Our show, for the first one of the season, went well! The beginning of the show was weird: the PA announcer waited a long time to announce Jordan (our Drum Major) on to the field; after he did, and we got into our first set, I could not hear or see the count off. Thankfully, Justin (one of the Lead Baritones) gave enough of an audio clue that I wasn’t too late to the 2nd set. After that, we were off and rolling!

“Phygian Gates” sounded very solid, as a group, minus that beginning. Personally, it felt fairly comfortable and good… which I would not have said in mid-May. There’s a 28-count set where some of the Baritones and Euphs are sliding across the front of the field – my step sizes felt ‘weird’ but I did hit my spot for the following set. I’ll have to file that in the ‘Watch’ compartment.

“Without Warning” sounded the best we’ve played it this year. The sound wasn’t “wobbly” – that’s the best way I can describe it – on some big, sustained chords, like it was a few weekends ago. I think I marched it better than previous weeks but fell off a little with playing. My only excuse: fatigue, near the end. I couldn’t seem to get a decent-enough breath to play. However, I did the big Visual section better than I did during the afternoon rehearsals!

“Sanctuary” was ok-to-good for the group, not good-to-mediocre for the Bari-Euphs. You couldn’t hear most of us, between the opening sets and the end of the Front Ensemble-Guard feature. A lot of us also were missing step-offs. With me, I finally got my breathing and lips under control but struggled with keeping the horn up, at the worst possible time: moving towards the front sideline. It did not drop – *whew* – but my elbows did droop. I will definitely work on that.

“Wind River” wasn’t bad, considering how little we had worked on it, compared to the other 3 songs. Oddly, this was overall my 2nd best playing piece, to the opener. It felt fairly comfortable, more so than the end of “Without Warning”; I think a mix of early fatigue and late adrenaline were the main factors.

Scores weren’t a focus for us; we were on a DCI-DCA hybrid judging sheet. Our competition in Columbus, Ohio will be our first “official” DCA score. Nevertheless, it was nice to see a 67.35 score. All in all, in was a great experience for me!

Various members of the Staff congratulated us, post-show. Andrew gave the Brass a big recap/pep talk/expectations talk, which was pretty cool. He then kept the Baritones and Euphoniums behind for a 2nd talk. I’ll call it a “Reality Check” talk: basically, he challenged all of us to step up. We have, in the span of the 2 months that we’ve been outdoors, become the ‘Weak Link’ of the Brass Line, mainly in marching. The lack of consistent feet-timing, plus some flat-out misses of sets, now has us in the cross-hairs of all of the Brass Staff, as well as the some of the Visual Staff. All I can do on my end is to not only keep doing mental and physical reps at home, but to make sure that any mistakes in timing or presentation that I make in rehearsal get fixed on the next rep or run. I don’t like being in cross-hairs, unless it’s in one of the Doom games. 😉 

I stuck around with Matt and Danny (mentioned above) to watch a couple of the DCI corps perform. I like The Cadets’ uniforms and show. I loved the sheer power of Carolina Crown’s show. It was fun!

I got home at about 3 AM on Monday. There was some tree damage to my apartment’s yard from some severe (possibly Tornadic?) storms on Saturday afternoon – an unexpected surprise. 

Physically, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m hurting a bunch, as I type this (late morning/early afternoon, Monday 6/24). The wrists are sore. While there’s the normal slight stiffness in the shoulder, the lower body is in Riot Mode:

  • the calves aren’t hurting – they just feel like they’re on the edge of cramping
  • areas on the left foot hurt badly: cramping and pain in the left arch; the left big toe is sore (but nowhere near its counterpart); and the Plantar area (plus the 2nd and 3rd toes) are bad
  • the right ankle is sore but it’s calmer than it was, 12 hours ago; the left side of the right knee is, for some reason, bothering me; the right big toe is borderline unwalkable

I do have Chop Savers for my lips and I’m about to take Acetaminophen for the other aches and pains. Later this afternoon, I’ll go walking, just to make sure that everything doesn’t tighten up. Despite the pain, I enjoyed the Zionville trip and performance! We have another performance on Tuesday, in Hamilton, Ohio – again, a DCI show, but this one is much bigger – it’s our Home Show! I can’t wait to watch and see it!

Again, thanks for reading my recaps and journey through my rookie season with the Cincinnati Tradition! Here are a few more pictures before I take advantage of this rain and take a nap.

Until next time! 😉

Site of DCI Zionville
‘Raindrop’ props!
Carolina Crown


Bruises from my horn’s bell, I think
Mainly from the weekend’s activities, probably from sweating a lot.

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