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 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!
Last weekend I went to an auction that benefits the FFA in Ravenswood, WV. I heard about it sort of accidentally so I didn’t really have any sort of a plan together but I heard that there were several different qualities of junk available.
I have heard people say that at flea markets and auctions, you can only get junk…you can find your plain old, run of the mill junk up through first class junk. As I wandered around the Jackson County Fairgrounds, I was surprised. To be sure, there was a lot of junk available for a few dollars per ton. There was some really great stuff too, and since I really like stuff like this, I spent a few hours perusing the piles.
I think what I enjoyed more than anything was the sound of the auctioneers. Most everyone knows the general sound of the auctioneer’s call and most people wonder how anyone knows what price they are paying for something. If you have never heard a real auctioneer calling, take a listen to a recording I made of my favorite guy.
From the recording, it is hard to tell what is going on I suppose, but I have to tell you, in person, I was never really in doubt about what he was selling (even if he just named it a big box of junk) or what the current bid was when he was calling. If you have never been, go to an auction some time!
I think next year I will go again to this auction and this time, I will have a plan!
We were sitting in the car (aka our recording studio) when the kids decided to sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Abigail was going to sing it with her kindergarten class so she wanted to practice. I just happened to have my handy dandy voice recorder with me and I recorded this…the debut of Isaac and Abigail with backup vocals by Mom. Maybe it’s just me, but I think kids singing and having fun is about the best sound in the world. I don’t like regular kids’ albums where they have kids singing in wishy washy, overly sweet voices (do kids ever do anything gently or softly?). I really love to hear kids singing loud and proud!
I was just a few days ago lamenting the fact that I was not yet in the Christmas spirit. Things still feel a little different this year, but we are making great strides towards getting us fully Christmas-ey. I may work half a day tomorrow but hanging with the family, just playing (and singing this song a bunch more times) will bring us into full Christmas swing. I didn’t ever get how Mom and Dad could be content getting each other underwear for Christmas, but their real present was seeing their kids have a lot of fun playing games, singing, dancing, eating too much, and crashing at the end of a hard fought day. I am a slow learner but I think I get it now. Getting myself in the Christmas spirit is a change in attitude…it’s not about me anymore…and that’s cool!
I was browsing through some old Firefox books a while back when I came across some folks talking about making banjos and dulcimers. In particular, one fella talked about making a cookie tin banjo. I had 4 cookie tins in my office that I saved after we emptied them last Christmas which seemed perfect for the job. So, since I had one insignificant piece of junk I needed, I felt compelled to find the rest and build a banjo!
For the neck of the banjo, I used an old piece of bamboo flooring which I glued to a pine 1×4. The floorboard by itself was not thick enough to provide support where it enters into the cookie tin. I am not exactly sure that it’s the right thickness now but it seems to fit in my hand ok. I left the bamboo top squared off but I rounded the back (the pine part) off smooth so I could hold it easily. Now, I know you are curious how I came up with the shape for the peg head…I traced two Mt Dew cans. This part is important…you have to use Mt Dew to get the thing just right.
The tail piece is a chunk of an extra slat from plantation blinds we installed last Summer. I think there must be a proper way to do this but it seems that the only measurements that really matter are the distance from the bridge to the nut (basically, from the wooden peg on the face of the banjo to the point where the neck joins the peg head.
My length is 25 inches though there is some flexibility in that size. The distance from the bridge to the 5th string which attaches to the side of the neck is 18 1/2 inches. Just about everything else negotiable as far as I can tell from reading in Firefox 3.
The hardest thing for me to do was carve the tuning pegs. I tried using steel thumsbcrew and eye bolts and regular screws but none of those things would hold the string tight enough to tune. That left me with carving wooden pegs which hold their position by friction.
I bought square 1/4 poplar dowel rods and cut off 2.5 inch sections to carve the pegs. I rounded the bottom 2/3 of the peg to fit in the hole. The top part I left square so I could get a better grip on it for tuning. It seems simple enough but it was a real drag to carve them round. My hands are killing me from messing with those tiny pegs. Anyhow, I drilled a small hole in each to catch the string and they seemed to tune and hold pretty well.
I have a chromatic tuner that I got to tune my violin. I messed around a bit to get the tuning right for the banjo. I think it is pretty close although the 4th string doesn’t sound right to me. We’ll see. It definitely has a banjo sound.
A long time ago in a state not so far away…yeah, well that’s it for the Star Wars bit. I was born a number of years ago but you’ll have to do some research to figure out how old I am…
The number of holes in the mouthpiece of a telephone is <my age>
In a “3-4-5” right triangle, the small angle is approximately <my age> degrees
“Les Miserables” has a cast of <my age>
There are <my age> U.S. Federal Reserve Banks
William Shakespeare wrote <my age> plays
Hannibal brought <my age> elephants with him on his conquest of Rome
So, I have no idea if I was born with or without hair, but I know I had it for some period of my younger years. I had hair for about 25 or so years and then I decided to shave it all off.
For awhile, that was pretty cool because I shaved it before other people were shaving their heads. At that time, I was too young to be “old man bald” but my kind of bald was cool. About a year or 3 ago, my follicular karma caught up with me and I started sprouting hair in my ears. It isn’t fair!
Anyhow, it’s my birthday today so I will tell you a few odd things about myself. Apparently I was to be named Jedidiah (hey, that’s almost Jedi!) but when I was “out”, my parents though I looked like my Dad so they named me Warren instead.
I was almost continually sick as a child. I had pneumonia many times and rheumatic fever once before I got through 3rd grade. My illness made me exceptionally handsome…I am still plagued by it!
I remember my absolute favorite pair of shoes…it was in first grade. May parents got me a pair of green gum boots. I wore them to school…all day long…every day. I also loved western shirts more than any other style.
Seriously, though, time has surely flown but I can’t imagine being any other place or with any other people!
Oh yeah, here’s my source for the strange ways to get my age.
By the way, here is a family tradition we enjoy. We call it happy birthday – loud and proud!
Emily and I watch very little tv (esp since we don’t have cable) but one show we typically watch is Heroes on nbc. I am typically even less likely to recommend a program than I am to watch one, but if you are prone to sci-fi, check out Heroes. Anyhow, one of the characters on the show is named Mohinder. He’s a scientist that holds the promise of saving humanity…you know, typical sci-fi fare. Anyhow, we really liked the name and decided that the next critter we got would be named Mohinder.
So, the next part of the story…We have a huge problem with stray cats on our hill and they seem to breed faster than rabbits. Another neighbor periodically gathers them all up and takes them to the humane society. Most are pretty wild and unfriendly but one was quite the opposite. We could always pick him out of the crowd as he is missing half of his tail. He is super loving and has a great purr. I am pretty sure the neighbor girls have tamed him and maybe even put him in a dress and makeup. Anyhow, on Friday evening, Emily brought him into the house. We spent vet-money on him over the weekend so he is our new inside-only cat. In Nashville, we had another all black cat named Baptist. He was missing his hind leg. I think we have a thing with parts-missing black cats.
Mo and Madeline (our other cat) aren’t exactly friends yet. In fact, if you look at the pic of our fat tabby, you can somewhat make out the silhouette of her middle finger, extended for me, as I took the picture.
I was able to record a short snippet of Mo’s purr. He is a champion loving, purring cat!
Cicadas go through life cycles where they appear in adult form every 2 to 17 years. Most of their lives they live underground and are harmlessly out of the way. As I understand it, this year was the time for the 17-year-between-adults type to hatch in WV. Sure enough, we have had a bunch of them. The big hatch where they molt and leave their dried, older shells everywhere occurred earlier this year. I am not sure how long the adults remain, laying their eggs and such, but they are still active in great number. Cicadas are harmless, except I think they can make a person deaf if proper hearing protection is not worn. We had one land on our kitchen door the other night while Emily and I were doing something. It started its “song” and nearly drove us from the room. I went around outside and was able to record the racket it was making for your listening pleasure.
I don’t think this recording does the volume justice, but it goes on constantly in the evenings. Really, they are fun to watch bumble through the air. They are harmless, crazy, prehistoric-looking bugs that the kids are almost brave enough to try and catch. I always enjoy hearing them is some ways as it is a definite sound of summer!