I know I have been posting a lot of band stuff lately but it has been our lives lately. School is winding down so band is slowing too although lessons and playing are definitely not! Anyhow, I have been remiss in posting about our kids’ participation in All-County Band for Kanawha County!
Abigail started lessons a few years ago as a younger-than-normal flute student. She had her ups and downs with it initially, but has developed into quite a flutist. Jump ahead to this year, the first year she is actually old enough to play in band. She was ahead of the curve some from experience which set her up well to try out for All-County Band. As I understand it, she was the only 6th grader in the county to make the band and to boot, she made 9th chair out of 22! I am so proud of her and she really stepped up her game. She rose well to the challenge and plays all the time now around the house.
Isaac also made the high school All-County Band for tenor sax. He’s such a funny kid…he did his audition but felt like he didn’t play as well as he had hoped. He was disappointed and never bothered to even look at the list of students who made the band when it was released. By dumb-luck, one of his friends made a comment along the lines of “See you at practice tonight.” He had to query what the friend meant who of course, let him know that he was in the band…the day of the first rehearsal! Isaac had no idea that he had made the band as second chair! Anyhow, he also played very well and I am so proud of his playing as well. Band truly does mean a lot in our house and we enjoy watching the kids develop into really great musicians!
It’s the season of band! Well. it seems like it anyhow. Last night, Isaac played in 2 separate concerts. First, the George Washington High School band played their final concert together as the 2015 band last night. Seniors are hitting the road so this was a nice opportunity for them to get together one last time as a group and play a killer concert.
I think what made it especially nice was that it was outside and that the weather was perfect! We enjoyed their music as always and especially liked the opportunity for a little vitamin D!
Like any good kid, Isaac refused to look up at his parents so I sort of had to sneak a few pics. Meh. I’m good with that. More excellent were the selections they played…of course, it was outside with my cell phone sitting on metal bleachers where kids played and adults shifted about so please excuse the extraneous noises:
After that concert, a number of the high school band members ran over to the middle school which was performing their annual arts showcase. The middle school jazz band director had arranged with a few former-middle-school-jazz-band-now-high-school-band members to return to perform in an alumni jazz band as part of the larger concert…and of course, they were great!
Tonight we celebrate the end of high school band season with a banquet. After that, we have one middle school band concert, a banquet and an end of the year trip. It’s been a little wild around our neck of the woods lately, but I am so proud of my kids in particular and the entire bands in which they both play as well!
I have mentioned many times that the kids are both very involved with band in their schools. Band means many things to different people but I never ceased to be amazed at how incredible these kids play and how truly kind and awesome the majority of our band kinds are.
Isaac’s high school band played their spring concert this week at the Clay Center in Charleston. Truly, Charleston is fortunate to have such an amazing performance hall. And even more fortunate is that our high school has the opportunity to play in the same hall as the WV Symphony. It’s a high-class, beautiful location!
Isaac was principle chair for his instrument, the tenor sax. I am very proud as you might imagine. His band-mates all seem to be very driven and really respect their band director. He’s a serious man, and demands excellence from these kids and absolutely gets it. I think the kids very much respect him for helping them to see how great they can be. I am very pleased with his ability to inspire the band to play as he does. It’s clear he loves the music and the kids and that’s just perfect in my mind!
So friends, I know that these may take a bit to download, but if you find the time or the inclination, please enjoy the music from the George Washington High School Spring Concert – 2015!
I have long disliked winter, but without winter, I guess I wouldn’t have perspective to properly enjoy the best of all seasons, spring. It’s hard to beat that special color of purpley-red that hints on the trees before any other colors show. And the fresh green of newly forming buds and leaves is like none other. And probably my favorite of all natural spring things is the look and especially the smell of new daffodils. I wish I could find a way to bottle the clean smell that is daffodil. If someone made daffodil perfume, I would wear it myself!
Well, maybe not…
Anyhow, I also love to hear the spring peepers, tiny frogs that call all night in the spring looking for love I suppose. Winter gets awful lonely after all! I happened to be out in early March and was able to hear the first peep-frogs of the season. That sound is almost as special as the smell of daffodils. Both generate sort of emotional responses in me.
But still, I really like both. Among unnatural things, I also find a few favorites in spring! From December 26th until Easter, there is a chance that one will find Cadbury cream eggs. I love Cadbury eggs…almost as much as bacon and Hank Williams, Sr. The problem, of course, is that they don’t really last long enough. Their growing season, so to speak, is only 3 months at best. A depraved Cadbury egg lover like me has to resort to ridiculous measures in order to survive from Easter until December 26…I stock up like a mad man! The other day, I took a picture of my stash at the office…I have a similar stash at home as well. While this probably won’t last until next season, it will set me well on my way!
And finally, and I know there are haters…I present my other spring-time favorite, black licorice jelly beans. I know we are a rare breed, but I love black jelly beans. I got some mediocre ones at the store this year, but truly good ones are hard to find but so worth the hunt!
With all of these wonderful spring things, I don’t even mind my allergies when they flare up a little…and I don’t mind watching my son mow the yard. Spring is so worth it!
It seems like things have been pretty slow around our place lately but we remain busy with stuff…some of the stuff I can identify, while other things are less clearly identified. Anyhow, last weekend, we had the pleasure of hearing Isaac and a small group of his fellow band members play at the Solo and Ensemble ratings at WV State University.
This ratings event is not a head-to-head competition per se, but the bands compete for highest ratings. It is possible for multiple bands to have the highest ratings so no one gets trophies or certificates exactly although I suspect there is a good opportunity for bragging rights involved. Individual students can perform solos and small groups can perform as ensembles. Isaac’s school had a representation in both areas.
We took videos of the two performances in which Isaac was involved. We didn’t have an opportunity to hear other performances as a lot of people shuffle in and out, but I am so proud of these shows and am certain that there was much greatness to be heard from the other groups from our school as well as other schools in the region. I don’t know how many groups played exactly, but I would guess around 50! That’s a beautiful thing, I think, for the arts to be so well represented! Yeah band!
Abigail started taking flute lessons in 3rd grade. It’s had its ups and downs but mostly she enjoys playing and she has done very well playing in various school events in elementary school. Now she is in middle school where she is in the school band, a five-days-per-week endeavor. Of course, with a lot more playing time, she has really seen a jump in her ability. Practice makes perfect of course!The other day, her band had the opportunity to play various duets, trios, etc at the local mall. It was packed with shoppers and felt all festivey, especially with the beautiful music the kids played. I am always amazed at the ability of these kids and their band instructor to make kids, many of whom had never touched an instrument, into pretty amazing musicians in a year-and-a half or two years! It’s really wonderful and makes me so proud!
Anyhow, Abigail was (I think) the only 6th grader to play in the group. She had a duet and a trio. I recorded both but the acoustics in the mall along with my position make it harder to hear in the video than it was in real life. Anyhow, I loved hearing the groups play Christmas songs and carols and have a good time!
At the end, they decided to walk to the next stage area over and have a group shot with Santa. He was a pretty good sport!
I can’t believe that Isaac is another year older already! All parents say this I know, but I can’t believe he isn’t still the tiny little baby who had such a horrific start. It seems like yesterday we were learning to ride a bike and here he is about to drive a car! Although he has had some issues, he has grown into a fun and wonderful young man of whom I am so very proud!
Last night we heard his Christmas band concert, and it was a thing of beauty! He is the first chair tenor sax player in his concert band which makes me very proud. He loves to play his horn and with a band that can make music like they can, who wouldn’t love it?!
Anyhow, we celebrated Isaac’s birthday among family the other night and had a great time celebrating both Isaac and his uncle who share a birthday. It’s such a fun and wonderful time as they both get into the party and make it a lot of fun for everyone.
I think as much as anything, I was happy to see Isaac, both at his birthday party and at the band concert, just having fun and making people laugh. His name is Hebrew for laughter and he has always been one to make people comfortable and happy through his laughter and sense of humor. He is one of my true joys and I am so proud to be his father!
Points to anyone who can get inside my head to know where I got the reference for tone-arm cobra…
So, when I was a kid, probably about 8 years old, my parents got for me a Fisher-Price record player for Christmas. Honestly, I think it is probably the gift I remember more fondly than any other I received as a kid. You see, we had a great record collection in our house. It might not have been huge, but it was diverse and pretty interesting to an 8 year old. There was CCR, Conway Twitty, and Victory at Sea…Elvis, Dino, Jim Croce, and Hank Williams…all sorts of classical music sets and holiday lps as well. My Mom had a bunch of 45s from when she was a teenager that I loved. It was a bit of a wonderland to my brain!
So, when I got my own record player, you can imagine that I really owned that record player. I instantly became a little more sophisticated I guess. I could control what played and when. I could change records whenever I wanted and I could imagine a world that matched the music I played. At some point, I got a cassette recorder and started my own radio station with the records I played…”This is Little Warren on WWAR radio spinning another favorite, Hound Dog Man by Fabian…” I recorded all sorts of long shows…some rock, some classical, some country. I was a real DJ in my mind, recording my records and voice-overs onto cassette tape.
Jump forward 35 or so years and my parents brought a bunch of my old things they discovered as they cleaned out their attic…including my old record player and the 45s I loved as a kid! Just a few weeks after that, I found new-old records for sale for $0.15/each at the local library. It sort of just clicked, but I knew that my old (and now new-to-me) vinyl was calling my name, begging to be played once again!
I tried my old record player and it worked…sort of. I am no audiophile…in fact, I love the pops and clicks of a record player…but the old record player was just not going to cut it. I hemmed and hawed and finally found a few extra dollars and decide to buy a new Crosley Cruiser record player. Some folks online complained that the Crosley was a cheap player or that it sounded bad. I figured that my not-so-keen ear and my not-so-carefully-stored records would never know the difference and I was delighted to find that the Crosley played even better than I expected!
I fired up the old tone-arm cobra and spun the first record…Glen Miller’s greatest hits. We played some of the Ink Spots and than an oldie but a goodie – Alpine Holiday…that’s right, it is a record filled with Alpiney sounds of yodeling and oompas and the like. Abigail and I danced some and we made the record skip a few times. It was perfect! Sure, it’s a lot different than CD or mp3 music but it just has a different feel to it. Old records just sound right to me I guess. I don’t really want to be a kid again, but I loved remembering back to that time and I love hearing records I hadn’t heard in a long time!
So…the reference to tone-arm cobra…anyone read my mind? I am a M*A*S*H guy and Season 6 had an episode called “Your Hit Parade” where Radar plays a bunch of records the unit received (instead of medical supplies) as the staff patched up the mass of wounded troops. He had to stop playing at one point, telling his listeners about their request, “It’ll be coming to you as soon as I put a new fang on the old tone arm cobra.” I guess it’s funny but that episode stuck with me and I always call a record player “the old tone arm cobra”…weird, I know.
Tuesday night was the Majorette and Band Festival where all of the high schools in Kanawha county come to show off their field shows. We joined several hundred other folks in watching 8 great bands play their very best in the University of Charleston stadium.
This is our first year to have a band member on the field and we were super excited for all of the build-up and preparation for this show. The season started with band camp in August where the entire band went away to set up their marching field show and practice their music. It’s amazing how fast (a week!), the band came together to produce a really nice show. Since that time, they practice daily and have refined their show incredibly!
We are very fortunate to have a really great band director who expects a lot from the kids, and leads them demand a lot from themselves. Their pride and hard work that the director instilled in them really showed as they took the field Tuesday. The band exhibited fantastic precision in marching and delivered as crisp a performance as I’ve ever heard/seen. They were in synch and smooth and just looked first-class. I couldn’t be more proud of how these kids performed!
As a special treat, Marshall University’s Marching Thunder performed the finale at the festival and showed the bands at the festival what the next level of play might be for them. They were great and dynamic and made a lot of sound (in a great way) as you would expect from a good sized university band!
Among other songs, they played Big Noise from Winnetka, one of the songs that Isaac’s jazz band played last year…both were great renditions…it was a lot of fun to hear the different takes on the same song. While we were disappointed that our band wasn’t awarded the grand champion trophy, I am so proud of Isaac and his friends and look forward to many more competitions!
I love band kids! They are just some of the coolest, non-jerky kids I have ever met. I am especially proud of my band kid and the fact that he recently killed it in the all-county band as well as the all-county jazz band performances. You see, Isaac plays tenor sax and he plays it pretty well. Well enough to earn first chair in both bands!
These kids get together once a week for 2 hours at a time over the course of 6 or 8 weeks to practice. They work very hard and it comes together in a fantastic performance that we enjoyed a few weeks back! Isaac had a number of solos and he did a great job!
He didn’t show too many signs of nervousness (at least until we were getting ready to drive to the performance…maybe a little tension then) and he pressed right through and played so well. I am very proud of course. Take a listen and see what you think. As always, this was recorded on my phone which was somewhat swamped at times by their sound and by random knuckleheads talking, the occasional cough or two and my stomach growling. I still like their sound and hope you enjoy!