Monday, October 22, 2007
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What a thrill it is to have opportunity to play in the Edward Jones Dome. Yes, it may be a thrill, but it can quickly become a disaster if you do not prepare your kids for some of the pitfalls that can accompany the dome.
Here are ideas to consider:
Hashes - The dome comes equipped with NFL hash marks. They are much further towards the center of the field that the high school hashes. In the dome, the high school hashes are usually placed on the field with tape or lightly coated paint. Take 15 minutes and get the NFL hashes placed on your practice field. Paint, chalk, or tape, whatever it takes, get these down before your next practice. Nothing can be more frustrating than watching half of your band stop ten yards early on a company front, because they went to the wrong hash. The hashes are:
HS hashes – 53.4' from sideline
College hashes – 60'from sideline
NFL hashes – 70.9' from sideline
Warm-up rooms - Getting to warm-up inside is one of the best parts of playing in dome. Weather is not an issue. You can really tune and the pitch might actually stay. BUT, remember that there are usually 4 bands warming up at the same time in rooms right next door. I remember, one year, waiting to tune until the last possible minute, and just as we started, a drumline began running 8's right next door. At Greater St.Louis we get two rooms. I put the drumline in the room that shares a wall with another band. This way I can control what is being played next door and we can tune, tune again, and then tune some more.
Playing in the dome - A lot of directors worry about the echo. I don't worry about it. I don't think that it really that big of deal, and unless you have a dome at home, how can you practice with an echo? So, I just don't make a big deal about it. I asked several of my seniors what they thought about the echo and not one of them said that it was an issue. If you're nervous about it, the kids will really be nervous about it. So, relax and don't make a big deal about it.
Patch your bass drums - The dome is “boomy”. If your basses have a lot of ring to them, this “boominess” will be amplified by 10. If you don't patch them, all you will hear is a rumble of bass and no definition. A bass drum that isn't patched can cover your entire wind sound without any problem, which will cause major problems. There are many different ideas on how to patch your basses, but this is what we do. In addition to the regular muffling that we use, we cut a square of white felt and tape to the outside of each head with white stick tape. Squares are approximately 3”x 3” on our top drum (18” bass) to about 6”x6” on the bottom drum (28”). Sometimes we need to double up the felt on the biggest drum. The effect is that the drum has as little ring as possible.
The Awe-Factor - There is no way to explain the fact that when kids walk onto the field for the first time they will be awestruck, but there are ways to prepare for it. We start out by watching video of our bands from the past that have marching in the dome. It's kind of a “hey, if he can do it then I can too.” We also try to get there early enough that kids can spend a little time in the dome before we begin our pre-contest routine. This way they can look at the ceiling or check out the Rams logo on the field. Just get acquainted to the dome. I know that for all of our kids, this is an experience that they will never forget and for most, an opportunity of a lifetime. So, when we march into the arena, we pause beyond the end zone, and just let it soak in. We take a moment and let the kids realize how cool this is, to just look around, bend down and touch the turf or check out the crowd. True the awe-factor can be scary, but we embrace it, and allow our band to join the excitement that accompanies the dome!
Best of luck to all of you who are competing in The Ed this weekend and next.
Director of Bands
Camdenton High School
Camdenton , Missouri
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