Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October Update

I thought I may as well give a general update on how all the bands are doing now that we are a few weeks into the school year. Safe to say there's a lot to discuss.

At Norup, each band is getting into a routine of skill building and introduction to repertoire. 8th grade has been working overtime, already under the gun for three playing tests on major scales and patterns. On the rep side, we're working on a few pieces including Susato's "Battle Pavane" and "Chester Variations." We went outside for the first time today to review marching basics, ahead of the Halloween parade in a few weeks. I had a good laugh as they tried to remember how to execute a "left face."

7th graders, small but mighty, are in a good place as they move beyond the 6th grade-friendly key signatures and ranges. Repertoire study has been fun so far, including an arrangement of "Malaguena" and a simple march titled "Mt. Vernon March." The emphasis is really on moving slowly through new skills and knowledge, and so far I'm impressed with the band. We also had our first attempt at marching today.

6th grade is going great so far! I always forget how fun it is to start moving beyond the first five or six notes to a full octave, and playing some fun music like "Cardiff Castle." The instrumentation is good, and the kids are so willing to try new things. I'm trying to mix more musicianship and singing/moving into this beginning band semester, so I guess we'll see how that goes. This summer was definitely a good reminder of why that stuff is so important as compared to only working on fingerings and rhythms.

The marching band is approaching a few weeks that are...well, busy if not ridiculously busy. This includes 3 assemblies at the middle schools, senior night, homecoming pep assembly, parade, and game, indoor marching concert, trip to U of M Band-o-Rama, and the first ever "Band Bowl" touch football game. Whew! Enough said. The kids are working as hard as ever.

The concert band is also off to a good start. Almost all members are veterans, so the starting point of technique is much higher than last year. I'm also doing certain things very differently, including the approach to technique building, repertoire, rhythm study, etc. It will be really interesting to see how far this band pushes itself--I'm optimistic at this point.

More to come in November!

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