Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moving in, and Band Camp Day 1

Today was the day I had to move into my dorm. After some problems involving nonexistent paperwork, I finally got my keys and Mom and I got my stuff in my oddly spacious dorm room. The set-up took at least an hour or so, but the results were impressive.

After that, I had to go get my allergy shots, a process that wasn't as time-consuming as I had feared. And then we got my food on the go so that I wouldn't be late for band camp.

Ahhh, band camp. Well, first off, the atmosphere is far more laid-back than band in high school, easily. Marching fundamentals were taught in sectionals (as opposed to one big group the entire time), on a field with actual GRASS and markings on said grass (instead of being on a field with dead grass and markings that disappeared after a few hours), with nice weather and wind (instead of 100+ degree heat and wind that feels like a blowdryer). Everything is far more colloquial (a train passed by in the middle of rehearsal, and everyone, including the teachers, stopped everything and kept motioning for the conductor to honk his horn. He didn't). Some aspects of the marching fundamentals totally tripped me up, though, because they're different than the things that have been drilled into my head for four years. The "to the rear" command, for instance, takes only two counts in Vegas (a step forward with the right foot and using the left heel to pivot 180 degrees), but takes four counts here, with footwork that I haven't even seen before (step forward with right foot, put weight on left foot, move the right foot 90 degrees, turn 180). The attention posture without instruments has the hands in a position that I know as "horns up, without instruments" as opposed to being at the sides. The timing for going from a forward march to a back march and vice-versa is entirely different. "Horns Up" occurs two counts after the command is stated, not one. Verbals are only used when going to attention, not for anything else (and for the record, it's "Pride" as opposed to "Fight"). The terminology is also a little different - the four count "drags" that we used two years ago in my junior year return here as "turns", for instance. The putting down of habits that I've been using for four years was very difficult, because it was all muscle memory that my body remembered even several months without marching a single step.

I also found out the hard way that the clarinet I rented from the school was broken. Specifically, the mouthpiece had no cork - on a clarinet, which is a multipart woodwind instrument that has to be put together prior to playing, the individual parts have cork on their ends so that the pieces stay together (and the ends they fit into are built to support this). No cork, and the part can't and won't attach and stay attached. When I got my instrument out to put it together, I put the mouthpiece on and wondered why there was no resistance. And then I took a realllly close look at the damn thing and noticed that there wasn't a single scrap of cork on it. So I basically marched with my instrument without a mouthpiece and basically "air clarinetted" my way up and down the field. I also found out, just now, actually, that despite my efforts to NOT get sunburned, my shoulders inside my shirt got burned anyway. And I was wondering why my shirt seemed to be irritating me so much for the past few hours.

Despite this, and how exhausted I am, the marching portion of band camp was a damn cakewalk in comparison to what I'm used to.

Before coming back to the dorm during my dinner break, I went back to the band room to get another clarinet. And then I found out in the car that said clarinet lacked a ligiture (metal portion of the mouthpiece that holds the sound-producing reed in place), despite the fact that, like the clarinet before that, the person handing me the instrument opened it prior to giving it to me and checked it! After taking a shower at the dorm and eating at the local burrito place, I had to go to the music portion of the day. I got there early, so I went and got the clarinet I previously had with a new mouthpiece.

Onto the music itself. While the show music was much easier than what I'm used to (basically consisting of three short modern songs with lengths of a half-sheet each; a far cry from last year's, which was a medley of classical Russian music that spanned at least a good two pages for the entire show; for the record, said modern music includes The Pretender. Yes, the song by the Foo Fighters), and while the pep band music was the standard fare that I'd learn over time (including some arrangements of songs that were literally exactly the same as the ones I played for Pep Band in Vegas), the many fight songs are evil. I had problems with my school's fight song in my freshman year of high school. I have a feeling that, despite my experience, I'm going to have the same problems with them - they're fast as hell, with strings of notes and rhythms that I find hard to learn period, let alone play with a fast tempo.

The rehearsal also had a surprise placement test for certain sections, clarinets included, for the parts. I had to play a 2-octave B-flat scale (pffft, please), was informed that my 2 1/2-sized reed wasn't good enough for the sheer volume my sound had (as if I didn't know that already - the rest of my reeds are 3s!), and then I had to sight read. What surprised me was how laid-back the entire thing was in general - it simply started with me walking in, and then the two section leaders asked me where I came from, which changed into a very brief discussion about the weather (a topic that always comes up whenever I tell people I'm from Vegas. No exceptions). For the record, I got first clarinet part (the hardest part; it has higher notes and tends to possess the melody of the piece), though some of my pieces are second clarinet parts, but I think that might because of the shortage of first clarinet part copies for certain songs. Not that I mind, second clarinet is fun, too. It's third that I can't stand - so utterly easy and boring, playing things in the background that hardly harmonizes with the other clarinet parts. Pretty much no pep band tunes have third parts, though - that's reserved for concert band pieces.

After the end of the rehearsal, there was a required mixer. Mehhhhh. Here's the thing: when you're a chick who plays video games, especially if your favorite series is the extremely obscure Shin Megami Tensei series, people give you weird looks like you're some kind of freak. Video games are my favorite hobby, the main thing I like to talk about. So I have a hard time socializing, even with people in band. Especially since it seems that far fewer people in this band are gamers than in the band at my high school.

Today was also the last day I'd really see Mom face-to-face. While she doesn't fly out till Thursday, band will be taking up my days for the rest of the week, drastically reducing any free time I could possibly have with her. Yes, I have a lunch break that's an hour and a half, but would Mom be hungry? Or even available? Highly unlikely. And it's not like she can drop whatever she's doing to pick me up from the rather distant marching field, like I'm some sort of kindergardener. I was getting choked up on my way to the music rehearsal, because it was the last time I'd probably see her in person for four months. We still have Skype and IRC, though, but the sheer amount of stuff I'll be doing and the time difference will make it a pain in the ass.

Well, it's almost midnight as I type this, and I've been extremely tired for at least the past four hours or so. I'll leave you with this: Children's card games on motorbikes. It's just as stupid as it sounds.

Also, Ninetails is around Lv.20 right now.


Christina LMT said...

Waitaminute...you got sunburned through your shirt?!

That's just not right.

So...the mixer was not all that great, huh? Well, at least Jane will be moving in to the dorm in a few days, you military brats need to stick together, and she gets video games, too.

I had issues going to sleep last night, because you weren't there. Oh, well. I guess I'd better get used to it!

Silver the Evil Chao said...

No, because of how large the cut is, I think the spray might've missed those areas and I got burned instead.

Yeah, the mixer was "meh". It's going to be so fun with Jane around!

:( Yeah, you'd better get used to it. It's gonna be weird not calling me out from inside my room to look at something funny on your comp, huh? Or hear me play video games...