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Valerie, a Buccaneer.

Posted May 9th, 2008 at 05:26 PM by Serenity
Updated May 13th, 2008 at 04:00 PM by Serenity


Frozen in minus one. Left foot front, right a bit behind, calves strong, knees straight, torso facing front with trumpet held in playing position pointed straight at the box.
"Check. Adjust."
I didn't need to move. I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
I lowered off of my platforms, faced front, feet together, trumpet vertical and held in front of my waist. Took deep breaths and thought about that last rep.
It was dark already, and the stadium lights had been turned on. The students attending the George Parks Drum Major Academy at West Chester University were still cheering raucously for us, their energy never dissipating throughout the humid summer night.
Chris Feist, in all his shirtless glory, stood where he had previously been in his familiar low squat, staring at the snares' legs and hands to make sure they were, as always, on top of their game. He interrupted my silent reflections by unexpectedly ointing right at me and saying, "[I]You,[/I] young lady, have [I]excellent[/I] feet." My jaw dropped just a bit in utter shock as I took in the enormity of the compliment.
I recovered and managed a smile and a breathless, "Thanks." The moment ended and Feist proceeded to approach the snares, giving them the usual reminders and chidings that would make them by far the best in all of DCA. I, however, couldn't help but grin to myself and treasure the butterflies swirling in my stomach. The though: Chris Feist, snare extraordinaire and the epitome of perfect marching, had told [I]me,[/I] little inexperienced me, that I had [U]excellent[/U], not good, not great, but [U]excellent[/U] feet. I could barely contain my glee.


Walking off of the field at the end of a Saturday rehearsal, the sun having just gone down. Chris, mellophone player, walked up to me and put his arm around my shoulder. "You, Valerie Reason," he said to me, "are a very good marcher." I raised my eyebrows and laughed a thank you. He nodded with a small smile and continued, "I just thought you should know that." I was both touched and honored. Chris was a superb marcher and mellophone player, so a word of praise from him held considerable weight. I thanked him again and gave him a hug, and then we continued our way off of the field.


Standing in the main hallway of Twin Valley High School with a few stragglers waiting for my dad to come and pick me up. Lois Tierno, the mom of the drum corps, looked at me calculatingly, as if debating whether or not to say waht she wanted to say to me. She decided to do it.

"I probably shouldn't be telling you this," she said with a slight smile, "but Gino complimented you today." My eyebrows flew up and my mouth fell open. Lois nodded and smiled wider. "He said he remembered you from last season. He didn't remember your name, but he thought you had a good work ethic."
I felt the breath leave my body as I wondered at this. The great, albeit eccentric, and never satisfied Gino Cipriani had not only remembered me as an individual, but actually complimented me during a staff meeting. Where other staff members had heard him. Hot damn! Although, I couldn't help but wonder when he'd noticed me in particular. Most of my real work was done in subs or on the field, when he wasn't around. The only time he ever saw me was in full hornline or ensemble when I was standing in an arc of more than fifty people and all I had to worry about doing was bringing my horn up and down when I was supposed to and playing my part. I guessed the little things, like actually standing at standby, like not talking, like making notes in my music when Gino corrected our playing, really did go a long way. And apparently the staff really [I]did[/I] pay attention and see everything that went on during rehearsal.

"He'll deny it to the death if you ask him," Lois continued, "but I thought you'd like to know that." She gave me another friendly smile and I assured her with a breathless laugh that yes, I was most certainly glad to hear that.


Walking out of the bathroom at yet another high school during a short break. Chrissy, a longtime marcher and current mellophone player, followed me out and called me back. I slowed down until she caught up with me. "You know," she said, "you have a really pretty voice." I laughed, thinking back to the combined trumpet/mellophone sectional we'd just had when John, the trumpet tech, had had us sing our parts. "And I really love the way that, no matter what we're doing, you always go full out and put your all into it. I mean, there are just so many people who half-ass things, and don't really know what they're doing, but you are [I]always[/I] on top of things and you just do a great job with everything." I thanked her again with a proud grin, and we continuted down the hallway to return to the auditorium for rehearsal.


Walking off of the parking lot lined with spraypainted yardlines for a break after a basics block. My friend Brad caught up with me. "I had no [I]idea[/I] you were so good a jazz running," he said to me out of nowhere. "I don't care where I go in DCI, but you're coming with me."I told him I'd never get into DCI because I wasn't a good enough player but he assured me, "They'll let you in because you're such a kickass marcher."
"It's not gonna happen, Brad," I said with a smile as I walked over to where my water bottle was.


Out in the now hot sunshine standing in horn arc waiting for whatever instruction Gino would next give us. He was looking at his score and thoughtfully rubbing his chin. He glanced up and his eyes fell on me. "Youn," he said, "c'mere." I blinked and lifted my hand.

"Me?" What could he want with me that he couldn't walk up to me and say as he usually did? Well actually, as I thought about it I realized he really didn't address individual hornline members...ever...let alone pull them out of the arc.
Gino nodded at me and told me again to "C'mere." I fell out of the standby position and cautiously walked toward him. As I approached him, though, he continued to move farther away until stopping in the center of the arc where I stood next to him, facing my many fellow marchers.
"Alright now I want you to play- no, no, I'm just kidding," he broke off with a laugh. [I]Good God! [/I]I thought to myself while letting out a relieved sigh- the thought of playing by myself in front of the entire hornline had made my heart rate jump to about 200 beats per minute. Gino addressed me again, "Go up to playing position." It was an immediate and automatic reaction- feet together, legs and back straight, hips pulled back, elbows even, chin up, bell on a ten degree angle. I knew my posture was close to if not perfect, but I went through the checklist anyway- if only because I was standing in front of more than fifty people, all of whom were staring at me and analyzing everything about my stance.

"[I]This,[/I] ladies and gentlemen," Gino now addressed the rest of the hornline, "is what you should look like. See how straight she's standing, the perfect curve of her right hand over her valves, the unbroken wrist, the hat fits nicely," Gino playfully held my head in his hands with a laugh as I tried to suppress one of my own. "And [I]this[/I] is how she stands [I]every single time[/I] she brings her horn up. You know, some people have their warmup posture," he stood up straight and mimicked someone playing their instrument but pulled his elbos in tight and screwed his face up, showing obvious and excess tension, "or their pedal tones posture," he collapsed his upper body completely, falling into his hips and leaning way back, "but [I]this[/I] is what you should look like all the time!"
All during this mini lecture to the hornline I was still just standing there in the center of the arc at playing position, feeling a little self-conscious and a little foolish. Gino gave me the casual wave usually directed at Steve, the mellophone player who initiated the ripple horns up or down for the rest of the hornline. Gino thanked me with a rare smile and I walked back to my spot amid some unexpected applause, mostly from the trumpet section, and a few cheers. It was all I could do to keep from grinning.
As we moved on in the technique excercises, my mind kept drifting back to those few minutes of glory and I couldn't play for the smile on my face. I firmly told myself to focus and continue to be the model Buccaneer I had just been shown to the entire hornline to be.
Leaving rehearsal the next day with my dad, Fabulous called out to me, "Bye bye, Miss Model Buccaneer!" He then proceeded to have a nice talk with my dad and Papa Dave about how wonderful and talented and dedicated I am, while I just smiled, embarrassed but proud.
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  1. Old Comment
    danggood's Forum Picture
    Wow just wow this is amazing good job
    Posted April 15th, 2010 at 01:57 AM by danggood danggood is offline

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