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Playing with the Memphis Sound

Spending your summer with the Memphis Sound is like participating in extreme band camp.
There are push ups and yelling. In fact, Rachel Dudley, a recent graduate of West Lincoln High School, threw up her first four rehearsals.
Of course, she was required to run 20 minutes in the heat, something not usually required of the baritone player.
“It made me feel like ‘Will I ever get through this. I don’t know if I can take this,’” she said.
Dudley originally applied to the Memphis Sound, a professional drum and bugle corps based in Memphis, Tenn., last November.
When it came time for auditions, however, she decided not to go.
“I was afraid that I wasn’t prepared enough,” she said.
Despite skipping auditions, Dudley was offered a last-minute place in the corps after a baritone player dropped out.
On June 21, she packed up her things and left for Memphis. She had no idea what she was getting herself into.
“It was like really intense boot camp,” she said.
First came rehearsals, which included practicing all day in the heat and that 20-minute run.
After a week of rehearsals, Dudley went on tour with the group, traveling everywhere from Iowa to Mississippi to Connecticut.
She performed in parades and performance halls. When the Memphis Sound made a stop in Charlotte, West Lincoln High School’s band took a break from band camp to see her.
Dudley was delighted the band came. She had spent the past three years in that marching band and the past four in the school’s concert band.
With the summer now behind her, she plans to continue in marching band at Mars Hill College.
As for joining up with the Memphis Sound again, Dudley has mixed feelings.
“I’m glad the rehearsals are over,” she said. “I’m not so glad the whole thing is over.”
She feels you have to be a little bit “looney” to sign up to do push ups and march through mud. At the same time, she loves to perform.
She also enjoys that feeling of “coming in (after a day of rehearsal) and knowing you get to go to bed soon, and you’re so tired, you don’t have anything left in you.”
That feeling came often during the summer, but it ended up being worth it. The Memphis Sound was one of 12 drum and bugle corps to make it to the Grand Final in Boston, Mass.
Even though they didn’t win the event, Dudley was proud of the work her band did. It turns out practice really does make perfect.
“I gave everything,” she said. “Just knowing that makes it all worth it.”
by Sarah Grano

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