Friday, August 24, 2007

One Week Down

5 Days later, the Berkley HS Marching Band has made leaps and bounds toward our "West Side Story" show. It was a bit hard to believe today that the band that was playing and marching both "Maria" and "Mambo," and which had worked through all of its third song, was the same that needed time with standing at attention on Monday morning. But enough glowing generalities.

As a first time marching band director, I'm thrilled with the efficiency of our marching rehearsals and with the attitude of the band so far. I've worked with a lot of groups with significantly lower morale, work ethic, and sense of family than this, and I constantly feel blessed to work in Berkley.

That said, we aren't close to the finished product yet.

I think it's really important to go to the source of the music we play in band. So on Thursday night, Al Lindstrom (auditorium manager and former die-hard Purdue Marching Band member) got us in to watch "West Side Story." About 40 band members came and we had a great time. You sort of forget the dynamics of that movie until you see it. What got me the most was how hip the movie still is. The music, the clothes, the dance choreography--all amazing. You might not remember it as a comedy, but to most of our male band members, it was. I guess they didn't always understand the need to interrupt a good knife fight with dancing or singing.

On Monday we make our 2007 debut at the freshmen orientation. Parents should feel free to stop by any rehearsals next week (we're usually outside from 10-12 and 2:30-4). Otherwise, see you at Hurley Field on Thursday night...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Band Camp Begins

Today was the first day of band camp and a soggy one at that. As everyone in the band knows, the 2.5" of rain that fell in the metro Detroit area seemed to congregate at Hurley Field. Luckily, we were able to use the gymnasium to learn some fundamentals, and only had to spend less than an hour of the afternoon in the rain, which ranged from a light mist to something else entirely.

Band members had a good first day. Rehearsals and sectionals were run pretty well, and everyone was impressed with the effort of the the freshmen. It's no easy task to get thrown into a 100-member group with confident seniors barking responses. Good job, Frosh.

We have some excellent help from the outside as well. Birmingham High School Director of Bands, Tim Cibor, is here for most days of camp. Also assisting are UM School of Music students Annika Voss and Matthew Landry. Last, the drumline will receive instruction from local musician and teacher Adam James. It's hard to stress how advantageous it is to have these sets of eyes and ears with us for the week.

I also escorted 18 awesome upperclassmen/section leaders/drum majors to Echo Grove Camp & Conference Center on Sunday for teambuilding/leadership training. With the exception of some rain--catch the common thread, here?--we had a great time. I was impressed with how well the group worked together. If all goes well, I'll post some pictures from our outing.

Hope for a dry day tomorrow...

Mr. Shaw