The pit vibe

So much time, so many notes

The uncharacteristically beautiful weather trend continued today as The Cadets finished learning drill and putting music to the end of “Carol of the Bells Part Two.” It’s a really cool section of the show with lots of backfield playing, choreography and (my favorite) a lyrical mellophone feature. Brass arranger Jay Bocook did a brilliant job throughout this show of weaving different Christmas songs in and out of the four predominant tunes.

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After sloppy Joes for lunch from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., I hung with the front ensemble for a while to try to answer the age-old question, What does the pit do all day?

“Lots of moving around,” rookie member Morgan McCartney told me. “We break into sectionals, then come back together, then sectionals, then back together.”

With so many notes and no drill to distinguish between rehearsal blocks, it’s tedious work. “Alriiiight, A to B, Apple to Banana!” Instructor JJ Ihnat has everyone play a section of music a couple of times, and then they start breaking it down to clean it. Everyone plays one measure, and the staff isolates instruments as they hear that one or two people are the slightest bit slower or faster than the group. There’s also a lot of slight adjustments in the volume of different instruments in each section.

So it’s not that pit rehearsals are easy, and it’s not that they’re boring. They’re just paced completely differently than the rest of the drum corps, who has to run back to their sets and sprint to the sideline for water. The members do work hard, though, and many do push-ups and work on their own when their music has rests.

538203_10150985345224603_656179602_12086747_1735985109_n.jpgAs the staff, JJ, Mike and Jules, work with one person on their part, vibraphone parts to “Jingle Bells” begin chirping from the mallets of the other members, as they work through portions of the show that they have more trouble with.

There’s also usually some giggling between members and staff; it’s a relaxed and very friendly environment, but they get their work done. Second-year member Bri Taylor told me that she kept getting distracted by a nearby groundhog hole which housed a family of at least three pudgy groundhogs. These furry little guys scurry all over the UPJ campus, and they’re the cutest. (Thanks to CPit member Kelsey Adams for this picture!)

After snack at 6:30, The Cadets moved into sectionals for one more hour before ensemble in the stadium. Johnstown gave us the prettiest sunset yet tonight, and the corps is playing, drumming and spinning the slightest bit better every day.

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