My practice gloves smell like sunscreen and sweat. I reach into the horn case and put them on. I lift out my mellophone, still shiny from the bath and polishing it got Saturday afternoon before the performance.
That shine was the first thing, back in the summer of 1995, that made me truly realize that I was part of a drum corps. I remember being on the practice field at the Memorial Day camp, looking around the circle of horns warming up, and seeing the sun shine bright off the silver. It spoke to me somehow, made me realize that I was part of something I’d never dreamed I could do.
Now, standing in the basement of my house, I pick up my LakeShoremen horn, blow some long tones and lip slurs to warm up, then play through the show, opening my music to look at a few bars in a couple songs that I can never seem to get right. I run through the trouble spots again, then warm down with “Contact,” the horn feature.
It’s up to me now. This isn’t Junior corps, like Northern Aurora or Bluecoats. No one is going to make me practice. If I want to perform better at DCA than I did at DCM, I need to apply myself. Now that I’ve tasted performance again, now that I’ve roll-stepped out onto the turf and seen the stadium lights flash off the silver horns, now that I’ve heard the applause again and been congratulated by one of my own for a job well-done, now I can find the impetus to practice on my own.
How could I have thought of leaving? I’ll have to take time away from LSM eventually, I know… but not quite yet. There’s plenty of time to have kids and stay home on weekends. For now, I’m just starting to remember why I love this activity.