Preserving the pattern of the “P”, your positive pre-reading program, precluding any possible problems: peruse The Difference Between Practice and Training and The Difference Between Practice and Rehearsal. Please also read, Having a complete Plan for a Performance and, from the Civil Air Patrol angle, How to Plan and Coordinate a Color Guard Event.
Now that we have given Ps a chance, let’s get on with the primary polestar of this piece. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…
The aspect of this article is not on a performer’s endurance of physical strength, this is about what you actually do right before the performance.
Competitive drill teams and color teams (guards): Let’s say you are up north and have a competition in a high school gymnasium or field house. These two buildings offer a large amount of space for competitions when the snow is piled up outside or the rain is pouring down. So, in this case, what does your team actually do prior to the performance? You need to map out and practice your entrance to the competition area. Just having the team wander over and form up at the sideline is not going to set the stage properly at all.
Along with that notion is giving thought to the butt of the rifle that you are carrying. Does it have a metal plate on the bottom? If so, you may have to slip something over it or reverse the butt plate, if the ability exists, to the rubber side to protect the school’s shiny basketball court floor.
Are you performing in a parking lot? This is the standard in the southwestern states, what I grew up with. In many other states, including the southeast, competitions are on football fields and other grassy areas. Where you will perform may dictate a change in your performance. As an example, you may want to move from practicing in your school’s parking lot and moving to a grassy area for the week or two prior to the next competition that will be on a grass field. Keeping aware of your team’s upcoming competition and any changes you may encounter will help you prepare to do your best even with those changes.
Honor guard ceremonial performances: Arrive at the ceremony at least one hour prior to performance time. Scout out the area, identify where you will setup, form up and perform. Also know where and how you will exit and, if there is another part to the ceremony, say a funeral where the deceased is transported from the ME to the funeral home to the chapel and then to the cemetery, practice what you will need to do at each location. It can be a tall order, but it will pay off when, after the ceremony is finished, you can rest assured that you gave your 100% and prepared as much as possible.
Rely on your training. You have trained, practiced and rehearsed and now the moment comes to where you put all of that together and produce the fruit of all of those hours in front of a few or a thousand people.
Learning to drop is an article that I wrote mainly for exhibition soloists and drill teams, but it applies to every group that performs, whether that performance is in front of the next of kin at a funeral or in a friendly competition. Learn to take mistakes in stride, never broadcast a mistake by throwing up your hands, making a sigh, or even your eyes widening. Go on and recover as if nothing happened. Chances are that barely anyone will notice the mistake. The mistake does not matter, it is already in the past, time to move on and finish. Learn from that mistake for the next time. Do you notice the problem in the above picture?
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