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Here it is everyone – Part IV and the last part in the series of my interview with Sal Hernandez. Once again, I want to thank Sal for being such a good sport with all of my questions, and taking the time with me to discuss his experiences.  Many of you have commended him on being a class act, a great young man, and a true representative of The Blue Devils from Concord, CA. Absolutely! For more information on how to experience what Sal has experienced as a performer with The Blue Devils, visit The Blue Devils Audition Information page for details on taking the next step!

Also, if you have any questions you want to ask Sal directly, feel free to ask him questions here (with your email address to send a reply) and I will make sure he gets back to you as soon as he can! On to Part IV!

Mark:  Back in my day, we had very close relationships with Vanguard and Blue Devils – especially the drum line. Did you guys have any close relationships with other corps that stand out in your mind? 

Sal Hernandez:  It felt like everyone knew everyone! You would see members of the Blue Devils hanging out with members of The Troopers, The Crossmen, The Cavaliers, The Bluecoats, The Cadets, and just about everyone else. It was really neat! The coolest part was that if you didn’t know someone from another corps, it wouldn’t be very long until you did!

Mark:  Amazing. Seems like there was some awesome friendships going on this summer!  If The Blue Devils ceased to exist today, where would you go to perform next year?

Sal Hernandez:  I don’t know if I could march anywhere else! Ha ha ha! However, if I had to pick and money wasn’t a factor I would definitely not mind being a part of Carolina Crown. Their brass program is really great!

Mark:  Definitely. Nothing against you guys, but one of the best horn lines Ive heard since Star of Indiana! Ok, so back to a bit of controversy.  Did you guys hear about the Snapchat photo that went viral? Of The Cadets members who wrote “F*ck You Blue Devils” on the bottom of their shoes? If so, when did you hear about it? How did you guys take that?

Sal Hernandez:  Funny story. I woke up on quarterfinals day to my best buddy showing me his phone and saying “check it out”. It was a Snapchat that he had received from one of his friends at The Cadets. Never would I have thought that the same image would become viral. He took a screenshot because he thought it was a funny picture. The picture was never meant to be hurtful or negative and we didn’t take it that way. My buddy decided to share it on our sections private page, if for anything just for a good laugh. Well, people started talking about it, and people who weren’t in the group got their hands on the photo. It’s a shame that it was shared outside of the group. It was posted with the mentality that this was our group and it was a private thing. Other members who didn’t know who sent it or where the image came from, took it upon themselves to share it with the world. I think this was unfortunate. Should The Cadets member have written it on his shoes? Probably not. But just the same, the image shouldn’t have been shared. What good does it do to The Blue Devils if The Cadets look silly on the Internet? My feelings toward the incident are very personal since it was my best friend who took the screenshot of the Snapchat photo, and I was with him for a large part of the day as it was all developing. It stressed him out, and it made me kind of mad that some members saw this as the perfect opportunity to expose some dirt on The Cadets. But, nonetheless, it happened. Twenty years from now that image will be floating around cyberspace waiting for someone to bring it up again. Unfortunate, but it happened.

Mark:  So wait, the picture was in good fun between the member of The Cadets and your buddy, who are friends? Or?

Sal Hernandez:  The persons in the photo were unfamiliar, however the person who sent the Snapchat was a friend of my buddy. All season long we would be exchanging playful snaps in which we would make fun of each other or praise how good we each had it. Between us friends who were in different organizations. It was never meant to be negative, since we were all good sports about it. That Snapchat in particular was sent to my buddy in the same manor.

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Photo courtesy of Marcus Stone

Mark:  Well, I would imagine that most of the Internet doesn’t know this side of the story! It seems like it was taken out of context for sure!

Sal Hernandez: It was definitely taken out of context – which is unfortunate. But we all learned from it.

Mark: Unfortunately, that is the bad side of the drum corps and the Internet becoming intertwined. But, I’m glad you all were able to move on. Now, I know there are people out there who have kids who are getting to the age of being able to do drum corps. I think they want to send their kids to do drum corps, but are unsure of the costs. Can you share with us the costs for this past season? Maybe you can break it down with costs for tour fees, costs for traveling to get to camps, camp fees, money for the summer while on the road? Any details you can share would be great!

Sal Hernandez: Certainly! This year our Tour Fee was $2200 for early pay, which meant you paid the full amount by a certain deadline. If you went with the payment plan fee, it ended up being $2600, if I remember correctly. Along with this there was a $100 registration fee as well as a $100 audition fee payed by the new members that was paid at the time of auditions. Being from Southern California, my travel expenses weren’t too bad. I would carpool with other members from the area to monthly camps, and a round trip was usually between $30-$40.

On average I would spend anywhere from $25-$35 for food costs during the weekend. I was a weekend warrior so I was only “moved in” for a couple days. That being said, I was driving up every weekend once all days had started. I believe after all of the camps and weekends combined, it was $450 in travel expenses. I only brought $120 on tour. I knew that it would be really easy to spend money so I only brought just enough to get me through free days and laundry days. As I mentioned, it’s really easy to spend money on tour! You’re overwhelmed by all of the cool new places that aren’t California, or wherever home is for you. SO much great food to try!

In the end, it was an approximate grand total of about $2870. Although this might seem like a lot of money to some, there are so many wonderful opportunities to get financial assistance. This year I was extremely fortunate and was selected for one of The Blue Devils brass alumni scholarships. I was nearly in tears when John Meehan announced that I was one of the few recipients of the $750 scholarships. This along with my online campaign via GoFundMe, which raised just over $1000, made reaching my financial obligations for the 2014 season extremely achievable. There are so many great people in the drum corps community and I can’t wait for it to be my turn and help someone who was in my shoes, to have the summer of a lifetime!

Mark: Yes! You can certainly count on me to help you out this coming season! I’m sure after this interview, you will have plenty of other people willing to help you out as well! What has drum corps, and the things you’ve learned from being a part of Impulse and The Blue Devils, taught you that you can apply to everyday life? Any life lessons that you’ve applied to your own personal life that you’ve learned from drum corps?

Sal Hernandez: The lessons really are invaluable. I feel like I have a really strong work ethic thanks to drum corps. I remember getting my first job and just wanting to learn everything I could. I didn’t care that I was just a kid in a pizza shop, I wanted to be the best employee possible. Not just for my managers but also for the customers. As silly as it sounds, seeing a customers smile after checking their pizzas really was awesome! For my managers, I always tried my best to keep the highest sales possible. Anytime that I came to work I was always in competition, wanting to keep my average sales as high as possible. I think that there were only a few times that I didn’t come out with the highest sales for the day.

I’ve learned to demand more of myself, especially after marching with The Blue Devils. I try my best to take the same approach that I would during the summer to everyday life, whether it by studying for a test, working out at the gym, or practicing my horn. It’s the little things that get beaten into you all summer and once you’re in the real world you don’t even realize that you’re doing them. Always give your best effort in everything that you do, because you never know who might be watching you. But above all, enjoy what you’re doing! As cheesy as it sounds it’s so true!

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