Band camp is one of the most fun, difficult, and trying times during any musician’s career.
You will gain many great friends, make some great memories, and be pushed to achieve musical greatness as an individual and in an ensemble.
As an alumni of the Avon Marching Black & Gold, the Marian University Marching Band and as a staff member of the Greenfield-Central Cougar Pride, I have a plethora of tips to help not only survive band camp, but also to achieve at the highest possible level!
While you will achieve greatness, there is no way around band camp being an activity that is strenuous and will require more effort and dedication than almost anything else you will ever do! To help you through this, here is a checklist of things you can do to make sure you are prepared no matter where, when or how you are rehearsing:
Being hydrated is the easiest thing you can do to achieve at band camp. This is Indiana, and as you already know, Indiana generally has very hot summers! You should fill a one-gallon jug with ice and water. Why one-gallon? This will be enough to get you through every minute of the day without having to refill it as well as keep it cold from sunrise to sunset. Hydrate often. Every time a staff member gives you a water break, drink!
You can also supplement with a sports drink such as Gatorade, Powerade, and etc., but remember, every time you take a sip of your sports drink, take a drink of water as well!
Flexibility is one of the most important aspects of marching band, especially in trends where the shows are faster, more difficult, and more strenuous than ever before. Start off every day with a good stretch. Also stretch during water breaks and meal breaks. For a sample stretch routine, click here: http://www.builtlean.com/2011/05/25/basic-stretching-exercises-routine/
Take Care of Your Instrument
No matter how well an instrument is designed, harsh weather requires careful attention to the condition of your instrument.
- Oil your valves daily. Take one valve out of the casing at a time and put a few drops of oil on it, re-insert the valve and twist it gently to coat the entire inside of the valve. Take the valve out, and oil it again and re-insert it and lock it shut.
- Grease all tuning slides as necessary. Never wait until they are “frozen”!
- Polish your instrument at the end of each day to get all the dirt, dust, and sweat off of the finish. This will keep it clean and protect the finish.
- Clean your mouthpiece daily. Use a mouthpiece brush and warm water with soap. This will prevent build up and will allow you to play your instrument correctly.
- Clean your instrument at the end of each day. Use the appropriate swab to clean the inside of the instrument and be sure to clean off your keys with the appropriate cloth. Keeping your instrument clean is essential to playing great every day!
- Clean your mouthpiece daily. Clarinets and saxophones can use a mouthpiece brush; flutes can use the appropriate cleaning cloth.
- Grease the instrument cork as necessary. Summer heat can cause the cork to swell during the day. Keeping your cork greased will go a long way in making sure you can take your instrument apart to keep it clean and to store it in the case.
One of the best things for you to do to preserve the finish of your instrument is to lay it on a towel. Throughout a typical band camp day, your instrument will spend a great deal of time on the ground, whether it be in sectionals, a drill block, and etc., instead of laying your instrument on the hot, rough concrete, place a towel under it to prevent the instrument from getting scratched.
Whether this is your first band camp or fourth band camp, you will have a great time, make new friends, and experience the beauty and passion of music making with great musicians around you. Remember, no matter how hard you work, enjoy yourself and choose to be great!