|The Bender Report||
April 2006 Camp Notes
The Royal Airs met on the parking lot at Maine West High School on Saturday morning to begin learning the drill for the 2006 show. The Maine West marching band uses this lot and it is marked off with yard lines and hash marks. Unfortunately, it only goes from the 20 to the 20 in yard lines, so our “starting line” was on the 20yd line. When we would fill back in to the “30-yd line”, we would have to stop and go back to the “real” 30-yd line to continue the drill. Paul mentioned that he hoped we wouldn’t do this in the show! We had great weather for a drill camp, sunny, temperatures in the low to mid 60’s, a bit of a wind blowing, overall a really nice day. On Saturday we learned the opener, the first drum solo going into concert, and then the drum solo going into the closer. The drill is VERY similar to last year’s drill, but we are in different spots and there are a few differences where Paul had to “tweak” the drill, so we really had to think about it. We got an hour and a half lunch break and I ended up at a local Chinese Buffet with a number of other Royal Airs. This place was fantastic! A good time and a good meal was had by all! Back on the “field” and continue drill practice after lunch; ooh, too much Chinese food!!! It was kind of nice marching in the parking lot because there weren’t too many uneven spots, but we did have two vehicles parked in the middle of our “field”, not to mention the light posts! We learned the drum solo going into the closer, then ran everything we had learned that day. They let us go at 5pm for dinner, another hour and a half!! Since I was still full from lunch, I took this opportunity to check in at the motel and stretch out for a short nap. The down side of marching on the parking lot, it’s all concrete. By this time of the day, my body was really hurting. It sure felt good to kick off the shoes and stretch out for a while! At 6:30pm the horns met in the band room and began that block with breathing exercises. I really like that we are concentrating on using our air correctly and more efficiently. This will really help when we start playing while we drill. We then worked on some chorales, “Rainy Day” and “Greensleeves”. What a full sound! Shows what proper breathing will do for you! We then worked on “Sing, Sing”, taking it at a faster tempo than we have before. It held together pretty well until the middle, then it started to break down. So we backed up and addressed some issues and finished out the piece. We then worked on “Stars & Stripes” so that we would be able to put it with the drums. After a 10-minute break, the drums joined the horns and we played right through “Chicago” and “Stars & Stripes”. WOW!!! We then played through “What Kind of Fool”, with yours truly taking the solo the first time and Bill Bauer the second time, and then right into “Alexander’s” at a slightly faster tempo than last year. By now it was after 8:30pm and had definitely been a LONG day. We had a short meeting with announcements and then the singing of the corps song. It was the end of a very good day!
Sunday started back on the “field” to learn the drill for the closer and the re-entry. Folks, we learned 54 pages of drill in one weekend!!! Not only that, but most of the lines were pretty straight and cover and dress looked pretty good!! We worked on the re-entry drill, then went back to the closer, then the drum solo before that, and worked our way back to the beginning. We started on the starting line and worked on CLEANING the drill for “Chicago”. Paul said, “I can’t believe I’m working on cleaning in April!” We finished up at noon and were given a 30-minute break before sectional rehearsals starting at 12:30. Most of the horn rehearsal was going to be spent on working the tunes for next weekend’s appearance in Madison at Rockin’ for a Cure, a fund-raiser for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I decided to get a head start on the drive back to St. Louis, trying to beat some storms that were forecast to come through the area in the evening. The horns elected to stay outside for this block, and it was really nice to be playing outside again. I think everybody’s got that drum corps “itch” to get the season started! After the horns worked on some stuff, the drum line came over and joined them. Christine Henze acted as drum major and led the corps through this block. It was really great to see her back at camp! It just doesn’t get any better than this, standing outside playing drum corps charts. It’s been a long, cold winter! After a wrap-up meeting, it was the singing of the corps song, clean up the area, and head for home. I arrived back home around 5:30pm, unloaded the car, unpacked, ordered a pizza and collapsed in my recliner. I dozed off around 7pm and was awakened a short time later by a clap of thunder and heavy rain beating on the roof. This would have been the time I would be getting close to home if I had stayed, so I was glad I was in for the night! I had such a blast this weekend!! I’ve really been itching to get outside and start drill for this season. Paul Zimny did a splendid job teaching the drill and the corps just relaxed and did what they were told. And look what we accomplished! Of course, it will be interesting to see what happens when we add playing to the mix! But I suspect it won’t be too much of a problem. I am definitely excited about getting this season off and running and I can’t wait for next month’s camp. Review your drill and let’s get that music memorized. It’s going to be another fun season!
For the White & Blue,
Nancy L. Bender
February 2006 Camp Notes
Tony Gonzalez – Soprano
Louie Klozik – Mello
Lisa Nuske – Bari
Rich Stanczak – Contra
Jay McGuffin – Drums
Christa Carson – Flags
Debbie Dettmann – Rifles
From these seven people we later voted for three to be representatives on the Board of Directors. The Board Reps are:
The horns broke into individual sections again to work out some more sections of "Sing, ..". Then we all got together again and the piece finally started to rock. We broke for supper at about 5pm. The band boosters offered stuffed shells, salad, and breadsticks for supper. I opted to head over to the motel to get checked in, then I hit the drive-thru at Steak & Shake (no Chinese food this weekend!). Rehearsals started up again around 6:15 or so. We were all introduced to Randy Mayer who spoke to us about a task force that has been formed to assist the Board of Directors in making sure everything is run legally and smoothly. Randy has years of experience in running non-profit organizations and should be a real asset to the corps. We pretty much wrapped up rehearsal around 8:30pm with the singing of the corps song. Some folks went to a local establishment for refreshments, but I headed straight for my room!
Sunday started at 9am, again in sectionals. The first thing the horns worked on was breathing. Now, I know this should be a no-brainer, but proper breathing will greatly enhance our sound quality. After about 10 minutes or so, we tried to put this breathing technique into playing; simple warm-up stuff and scales. We then worked on several of our warm-up tunes, again focusing on proper breathing. Back to "Sing, .." and try to continue playing with good breath support. There was one section that was still giving us a little trouble, so we split up into sections and worked it out. When we got back together and played through the chart, we sounded like we had 60 horns in the room! Wow, what a difference good breath support can make! We took a break at 1:15 and the drums came in and started to set up to play with the horns. I decided to leave at that time to get a head start on the drive home, but I have been told that the ensemble went pretty well! They played "Chicago Fanfare" and "What Kind of Fool" together. They worked on different ways to connect "Fool" to "Alexander’s", then the drum line played a solo they had learned called "Tight Spot", which really sounded pretty good! Then the horn line played all of "Sing, Sing, Sing" that we had learned. All in all, I think it was a really successful camp! The difference in "Sing,.." from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon is literally night and day. A huge THANK YOU goes out to Lisa for leading the horn line this weekend! Let’s all try to remember what we learned. Things ran amazingly well and the corps members were able to spend the weekend concentrating on playing, drumming, spinning, etc. I’ll tell you, it was quite a playing work-out, but I loved every minute of it! John will be at camp in March with the rest of the music. I can’t wait to get started learning this stuff!! Come on out for the next camp and have a great time playing some great music!
For the White & Blue,
Saturday, June 18 – We didn’t have to be at rehearsal today until noon, so we all took advantage and slept in. After a quick breakfast at the motel, we headed back to Mooseheart and broke into sectionals. We worked out some rough spots in the music, then headed back out on the field for drill. We reviewed the closer and then the re-entry. After a while it was looking pretty good! I think this is the earliest we have ever had the whole show ready to go! We were given a meal break around 3:30 and Dave, Kos, and I found a Chinese place, of course!! Back out on the field and run the show in blocks from the opener. We called it a day around 8pm. Dave, Kos, Tony and I headed for Naperville where we were spending the night. I was pretty tired and fell asleep quickly!
Sunday, June 19 – Rehearsal began at 10am, again in Mooseheart. We started in sectionals and really worked on balancing some of the chords! We then headed onto the field to review drill. This block seemed to go pretty well, in spite of the warmer temperatures! We did two run-throughs, first without playing, then with playing. We broke up around 2pm and headed back to Naperville to clean up and get ready for the show in Lisle. It turns out that our motel was only 10 minutes from the stadium! We were scheduled to go on first, at 6pm, in the sun! This is a fairly new stadium and the stands are set back a ways from the field. The turf was artificial and seemed like it was a little slick. We lined up on the starting line and took off. When we formed the company front on the 30-yd line, it seemed like the field had shrunk in width! I have no idea what happened, but on my side, we were off!! Somehow we pulled it together and finished the opener in grand style. The rest of the show went well and it was incredible having Billy Blomquist back with us!!! The audience was even more vocal than Friday night. I felt sorry for them because, even though we were marching in the sun, they were sitting and facing the sun! We went into the closer, hit the wheels and the company front, then blew them away with the re-entry! By 6:20pm it was all over! I went back to the car and changed out of my uniform and then went back inside to watch the rest of the show. It was great running into former RA’s this weekend, including Rich Gortowski, Bob Nehmer, Jim & Suzie Mikowski, Pat Castor, and Gene VandenBosch. (Sorry about any misspellings or anyone I left out.) Dave and I headed back to the motel after the show and then drove home Monday morning. I only have a few days to recover and catch up at work and then head north again. This coming weekend is our home show! Come on out and say hi!!!
For the White & Blue!
JUNE CAMP NOTES
Sunday morning found us back on the field at the stadium at 9am! We started with the closer and worked our way to the end. We were then taught the re-entry. WOW!! I love this concept! It wasn’t nearly as difficult to learn as I thought it was going to be. After a break the horns headed for one end zone and the drums went to the other end zone for warm-ups. After warming up the drums joined the horns for some ensemble work on “Tru’s Blues”, adding the last selection in that medley, “St. James Infirmary”. This thing really ROCKS!!! We also worked the music for the closer, “Our Love Affair”. We then went back out onto the field and ran the closer into the re-entry, while playing! I think the adrenaline gets to flowing pretty quickly in “Alexander’s”, because we seem to overshoot our spots. This is going to be even more difficult when the audience gets into it! Somehow, we have to channel that energy and use it in a positive way. The corps really wants this first show to be as clean as a show in late July. It’s great to see everyone so excited about doing this show. John Z. told us that we are ahead of where we were last year, but not to get ahead of ourselves. This is a process that has no shortcuts. We have to go through shows and practices before this thing really clicks. But I like the way it’s clicking right now!!!! We finished up around 3:15pm with post-camp announcements and the singing of the corps song. Then it was time to gather up our stuff, clean the field, and head for home. I was really tired driving home and kept moving around while I was driving to stay awake. Dave and I stopped in Bloomington for gas and dinner, and that woke me up. We pulled into my driveway at 8:45pm and Dave headed home from there. I didn’t stay up very long before I was sound asleep, marching the show in my dreams. Monday was a hard day, and all I could think about was drum corps! The excitement level is really rising in anticipation for Friday night in Oswego! I know from going through this before that it will be over in a flash. Savor every second!
For the White & Blue,
MAY CAMP NOTES
Sunday morning we were back on the “mine field” at Fenton High School. Drill started at 9am. It took me about 15 minutes to loosen up, but then it wasn’t too bad. At least we weren’t drilling in hurricane-force winds! It was mostly cloudy and cool, but not too bad. We reviewed all of the drill we learned yesterday. In only two weekends we have learned all of the drill for the show, except for the re-entry, which shouldn’t be too difficult to learn next month. I think it’s really helping to be able to download the drill on our computers and watch it. We already have a pretty good idea of where we are supposed to be going. It also helps that our practice fields this year have been laid out so well – a huge THANK YOU to the mellophone section!!! We drilled until about 10:30 and then had horn warm-ups for about 20 minutes. We then set in a concert formation and ran through all of our show tunes. The corps was scheduled to perform a concert at 3pm in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. We practiced until noon, then were released to get some lunch and meet for the concert. Dave and I left at this point and headed south, where the temperature was a good 15-20 degrees warmer! From what I understand, the concert went very well! There was no actual “event”, but the RA were well received by those who happened to be in the park at that time. It’s also very important for us to play in front of an audience as often as possible. It’s the only way to get better! We have four more weeks to get our music MEMORIZED and to work on the drill and musical breaks. This is a fantastic show and I think the crowds are going to love it! I’m still amazed at how fast camp seems to go, although I will admit to glancing at my watch late in the day on Saturday. I was out cutting grass last evening and found myself doing eight to fives across my front yard! It’s okay, the neighbors already think I’m a little strange! I’d like to give a shout out to my awesome drill squad Ray and Mike. You guys are awesome! Also, the Magnificent Thirds continue to astound me! They have worked so hard this year and I can really tell a difference in their playing, as well as the entire horn line! We have come so far from 2002 when it was a major accomplishment to just get the fingerings correct. We are now musicians! We play with feeling, dynamics, and phrasing! Keep up the good work! See you all next month!
For the White & Blue,
APRIL CAMP NOTES
Sunday started at 9am on the practice soccer field at Fenton High School. That’s right, the field that looks like it was used for bombing practice! I made sure that I got there early to stretch out. Paul called us together on the field to outline the plans for the day. After that, Tony Laskowski announced to the corps that he had received a phone call from Jackie saying that they were releasing her from the hospital that morning, so he was on his way to pick her up. We started drill practice with the drum solo and worked up to where we left off yesterday, then learned the last couple of pages. After we ran this several times, we went back and reviewed the drill from the starting line in blocks, first singing our parts, then playing. It was so awesome that we were able to drill and play this early in the season! You can really feel the excitement in the corps. About half-way through our rehearsal, here comes Jackie, in a cervical collar, being helped up the hill to the field!!!! Wow, what a trooper!! We continued to work the drill in blocks, first singing then playing. We finally did a full run-through of the opener while playing! I can’t wait to get this show in front of an audience! They are going to go absolutely nuts! We drilled till 2:30pm, then Paul and John had to leave to catch their flight back to California. The rest of us gathered around, sang the corps song, then cleaned up the field and packed our cars. This was such an incredible weekend! I can’t wait for the May camp to finish the drill and get the ending to the first concert piece “Tru’s Blues”. We had a full guard at camp, 16 flags and 7 rifles! Over 65 horns (that sound like 100). The percussion is coming along, though we could always use some more! Our new members this month were Ray “Stoney” Szlagowski, Brad Hecker, Carl Fiocca, Katherine Paulson, and Portia Harper’s brother, Mike. We had many visitors this weekend including Gerry Paull, Tom Day, Tommy DiPrima, Terri Golden, Jim Schehr, Dave Borck, and Pam (Zimny) Bialas and family. The excitement is building! This year should a great year for the RA! We have a great musical show and a drill to support it. Everybody is working hard and taking responsibility for knowing their music and their drill. Let’s keep this up. Oswego won’t know what hit them!
For the White & Blue,
MARCH CAMP NOTES
The excitement continues! Our camp this month was the weekend of March 19-20. Due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts we moved our location to Wood Dale Junior High, a short 10 minutes from Fenton High School. We only had a small portion of the school available to us and everybody brought their own stands. Dave and I arrived just after 10:30. The horns were set up on the stage in the auditorium and were being sent on their first break of the morning. After the break the horns split into individual sections. Since there was not much space to work, a lot of us ended up outside for our sectional. We were lucky in that the sun was out and it was about 52 degrees. We worked on the opener for about 45 minutes, then headed back to the stage. I really liked the acoustics in this auditorium!! We worked some more on the opener and then John handed out an abbreviated version of “Alexander’s” that we will play after the closer. It has a really cool ending and I think the audience is just going to eat it up! After that we had a short break, and then Paul gave a demonstration of how to download our drill on our computers. We can print out our coordinate sheets and start to learn the drill before coming to camp, and we can also watch the drill for any of the songs. This should save a lot of time once we get outside! We were sent to our meal break at 1:30 with instructions to be back in two hours. I can’t decide if I like the two-hour break. It does give us time to eat, check in to the motel, and maybe even stretch out for 20 minutes. On the other hand, if I stop moving for too long it’s hard to get going again. The weather had made a drastic change since we were outside for sectionals! It was cloudy, foggy, drizzly, and much colder! My gang ended up at a small Chinese place near the school. We then headed for the motel and had about 30 minutes before we had to leave to make it back to camp. We met on the stage and were told that since the gym was too small for the whole corps to drill, we split into sectionals and John & Paul came and got one section at a time to march in the gym while playing the opener. We worked on moving our feet at exactly the same time as the tempo of the opener. Since we didn’t have to worry about where our “spot” was, this was fairly easy. This early work of coordinating feet and music should pay off when we move drill outdoors. It is also forcing us to MEMORIZE the music a little sooner than some of us normally do. After about an hour and a half, we reconvened at the check-in tables for some birthday greetings for the month of March. Then it was back on stage, work the rest of the music, and do full ensemble. We had to be out of the school by 9pm so we started shutting down by 8:40. Most of the corps ended up at the VFW Post for some socializing. I had been up since 3:45am, so I went right to my room and crashed!
Sunday found us back at our usual location, Fenton High School. Paul has the entire opening drill written and we expected that we would learn it today. However, we couldn’t use the field house and the gym isn’t big enough. The horns started out in the band room with Roderick leading us through warm-ups. Then John came in and filled us in on trying to get someplace to drill. In the meantime, the horns were sent to sectionals to work on memorizing the opener so that we could play it as we drilled. I’ve got to tell you that this horn line is absolutely amazing! We have filled out the baritone section, have a huge mello section, and have redistributed the strength in our soprano section so that the harmonies are really coming through! And what about that contra line?!!!! It seems that once we start playing everybody just keeps getting more and more excited. I heard a lot of people talking this weekend about how they can’t wait to play this music in front of a crowd. After sectionals we went back to the band room and played all of our music. When we finish playing everybody wants to play again! At 1pm we all went in the gym and set up in a block formation and marched back and forth across the gym while playing “Stars & Stripes”. This is so cool!!! Then John thought he would throw us off by having us play “Alexander’s”, but we were able to play that as well! We drilled until 1:30 and then were given a break before setting up in the gym for full ensemble. It was about this time that Dave and I decided to get a head start on the drive home, so we missed full ensemble. I’m sure it was exciting, though! The drum line is crazy this year and I think we will have one of the finest shows this summer! The color guard and rifles are working their you-know-whats off! I know so many people in the corps who don’t want to wait another month to do this again. So far, these weekends just fly by and it seems like I just got there when it’s time to leave. Hopefully, next month we will have someplace big enough for us to learn drill. Keep memorizing the music, as well as the dynamics and articulations! This will make it a lot more fun when we learn our drill, and will allow us to concentrate on the drill. The excitement level is growing. Look out, Oswego! (only 3 more months!)
FEBRUARY CAMP NOTES
Dave and I left St. Louis at 5:30AM!!! I think this is the worse part of camp! We pulled in at Fenton High School in Bensenville at 10:30, just in time for the horn line’s first morning break. Sorry, guys. After checking in, paying dues, and greeting everybody I hadn’t seen since last camp, it was time to get down to some serious work. The horns worked most of the morning on our opener, “Stars & Stripes”. I think that every time we play this piece we get more excited! Let’s just say this is NOT your father’s Stars & Stripes! But then, leave it to the Royal Airs to pull something out of the bag that will leave the audience blind with excitement. It’s only February and we are already starting to put the little nuances on the music. This thing will rock! After we worked on the opener, we were handed one of our concert pieces, “Tru’s Blues”. It starts with “Birth of the Blues” and makes a nifty transition into “I Got a Right to Sing the Blues”. We only had page one to work on this camp, but given how well this went, I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of it next month! At 1:30 we were given a two-hour meal break. My group, at the request of one individual, ended up at Portillo’s instead of our usual Chinese place. Actually, a lot of Royal Airs ended up there as well. Since we had so much time for lunch, Dave and I went to the motel, checked in, and still had about 20 minutes to “power nap” before heading back to camp. The afternoon block began at 3:30 with an hour and a half of drill. We were supposed to be in the field house, but there were basketball games going on until 6PM, so we headed for the gym. The corps was split into two sections, with one section working block drill with Roderick and the other section working with Paul. This section basically had an entire block of drill taught. It’s really cool and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in our opening drill! After about 45 minutes the instructors changed groups, so we all had the opportunity to work on what the other group was doing. Drill ended at 5PM with the horns going back into the band room. We were honored to have Terry Warburton with us this weekend (Warburton mouthpieces). He gave a 30-minute talk on how to find the right mouthpiece for your specific needs. Besides being a fount of knowledge, Terry is also an all-around good guy who was with us all weekend. After his presentation the horns broke down into smaller sections to work on “Tru’s Blues”. After about an hour we got back together and ran “Stars & Stripes” to prepare for full ensemble. Unfortunately, this full ensemble was in the gym. Very bad acoustics! But one thing we have learned over the last three years together is to be flexible. In spite of the less than ideal conditions full ensemble went pretty well. We sang the corps song and were dismissed for the night at 8:30pm! Many folks from the corps went to the VFW Post for after-camp “refreshments”. However, I had been up since 4am and headed right for my room!
JANUARY CAMP NOTES
Sunday morning we started at 9am, again in the band room with a long warm-up session. We were then sent back to sectionals to finish learning the opener. I have to tell you, I worked with the 3rd sopranos and they are an incredible group. We knuckled down and learned the rest of the opener, then went back and played it from the beginning. I think we have a very good start on this piece, and all in one weekend! After about an hour we headed back to the band room and the entire horn line worked on the last half of the opener. The closer we got to the end, the more excited the horns became! It’s amazing how our attitudes changed as we learned this piece. With every measure we got down, the excitement level grew. We have the notes and rhythms down. Now we need to make music. That will be the goal next month. We then worked on “Chicago Fanfare” so that we could do it with the drums in full ensemble. At 1:00 we went to the field house and set up in concert formation. The horns played “Ave Maria”, then the horns and drums played “God Bless”. It was really rocking! Then the drums played an exercise they had worked on. I can already hear a difference in this drum line. The flags performed a routine by themselves, then a routine with the rifles. WOW!!!!! Then the rifles did a routine on their own – dangerous moves! (so that’s where all those bruises came from) Then the horn line played through “Chicago”. We met back in the band room for the end-of-camp meeting. We sang the corps song, again with much more spirit than previously, and then it was time to say good-bye. This weekend went by so fast!! We were challenged almost every minute of camp. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next month! This season is going to be off the charts! The audience will be on their feet with the opener and will never have a chance to sit down until we march off the field. Hang on to this excitement. Practice hard, and not just the music. Practice holding your horn properly. Stand at attention with your horn while you’re watching TV. Those muscles will strengthen in no time! Walk tall, be proud. We ARE the Royal Airs!
For the White & Blue,
|© 2006 Chicago Royal Airs Drum & Bugle Corps|