Monday, October 16, 2017

Week of October 16

What a week...  I honestly don't think that, at that moment in time, the band could have turned in a better performance than they did on Tuesday evening at Festival.  I was so proud of the way they pulled together all of the elements and put on their best show.  And as it turned out, the Grandville show was indeed performed indoors, so the cancellation on Thursday allowed us to save some money and make all of the necessary notifications with plenty of time to spare.  It also allowed families to have the weekend free, and I don't think I received any complaints about that idea at all :)

This week is much less busy, thankfully, but still has several important elements that you need to be aware of.

MONDAY, October 16 - Wind Ensemble rehearsal, 7:00 p.m.  This is for Wind Ensemble only.  We have a concert on Thursday, and since this date was already scheduled, we thought we would take advantage of the opportunity to rehearse with the percussion.  I am hoping for about an hour in length, but no later than 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 19 - Wind Ensemble concert, 7:00 p.m.  This concert will take place at LOKERS Auditorium at Cityside.  Admission is free.  Come out and hear this group perform!

Friday, October 20 - The famed East/West game.  There are a few different things going on time-wise for this game, but nothing major.  We are going to feed the kids (and alumni and 8th graders) dinner starting at 4:45 p.m.  (We have ordered a couple of gluten free pizzas as well as some plain cheese pizzas to cover a few dietary restrictions.)  We will need to be dressed and ready by 5:30 p.m. to rehearse with the (very) large band - there will be over 400 people on the field for pre-game!  Further details regarding helping with dinner will be sent via SignUp Genius later on Monday/Tuesday.

Saturday, October 21 - Mattress Sale.  There will be opportunities for students and parents to assist again.  This mainly involves a setup crew, tear-down crew, and a few people to help during the day at the sale (there will be five mattress costumes available if you want a chance at one of those...).  SignUp Genius will again be used.

Next week Monday and Tuesday will be picture days in the room/on stage (yes, I know about the play - I've covered it).  This should be a class-time only thing, but there may be a few after-school times as well.  Families are encouraged to have their children sign up together when possible.  The company gladly does sibling poses and packages.  Signups will take place in class.  I could use a parent or two to assist with the photographers - let me know if you are interested.

PLAYOFF GAMES: both East and West have earned playoff spots in the MHSAA tournament, which begins Friday the 27th.  While there are zero details right now, I am assuming that East will have home field throughout the tournament (since they are 8-0 right now).  I can tell you for sure that on the 27/28th weekend that whatever games happen will be covered by Track Band, not the full marching band. 

That should do for now.  Have a great week!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Week of October 9

What a crazy, busy weekend, and we made it through without too much rain!  Given the dreadful forecast all week long, I was not expecting to stay dry at all, so Friday night's insignificant rain was really the best we could hope for.  I was very happy that Hastings adjusted the schedule Saturday night (which I heard when we were about halfway there, by the way - they did it on the spur of the moment), and we ended up getting a little wet as we loaded the buses and equipment, but not too bad at all.

This week is going to be even crazier, really.  We have Wednesday and Thursday nights free, but otherwise there's something going on every night.  Then, as I've said, it all stops and things return to "normal."

TONIGHT - the final full marching band rehearsal at the stadium, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  We received lots of good comments and pointers from the judges on Saturday, and we have a few things to clean up tonight, but I think we will be ready for the rest of the week.  Final run-through will be at around 8:40 if you'd like to come and watch.

TUESDAY, October 10 - MSBOA Festival.  ZHSMB performs at 8:45 p.m. in Class AA.  I hope you can all come and see it!

Friday, October 13 - Home game.  Usual drill with report time, etc.

Saturday, October 14 - Grandville Invitational.  I usually don't schedule a competition after MSBOA, but I really love playing at Grandville, and this is such a fun show that I know the crowd there will really enjoy it.  Hopefully the weather holds...  Rehearsal at 3:00 p.m. in the stadium, followed by a cookout and heading to the site.

FUTURE dates:
Monday, October 16 - This was originally scheduled to be a full rehearsal with the 8th grade bands as we prepare for October 20's mass band show, but we decided we didn't need it (he said skeptically...)  Since it was on the schedule and everyone involved is available, I have put a Wind Ensemble session there with the percussionists for the upcoming concert.  We will rehearse in the band room from 7 - 8:30 p.m. (or as needed).

Thursday, October 19 - Wind Ensemble at Lokers Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.  This is going to be a somewhat brief but very awesome concert.  I hope everyone can attend.

October 23 & 24 - Composite photo sitting from North American Photo - during the school day.

October 27 - the MHSAA playoffs begin.  We have always had some type of band for home games.  Should we be a home team on that weekend, we will use Track Band to cover the game(s).

That should do it.  Let's get through this week!!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Judging Stuff

This weekend the band will be in front of a panel of judges for the first time this season.  Someone asked last year what all of the stuff means, and I said I'd write a post about it.  (Clearly I didn't promise a specific date...)  Here are some things you can look and listen for, as well as some of the rules and categories that are used as we perform.

For the Grandville and Hastings shows we are marching under the Scholastic Marching Band system, which has six adjudicators.  There are two music judges and two marching judges as well as separate judges for percussion and color guard.  The percussion and guard receive a score, but it is not figured in to the overall score of the band's performance.

The music judges evaluate Music Performance and Music Effect.  In other words, are we playing in tune, with good tone quality, all the right notes, and other musical elements (that's the "performance" part), and are we doing things that make the music exciting, sad, tense, etc. with our playing - what "effect" does it have on our audience?  Each of those judges scores us from 0-30 points.

The visual judges have the same captions - performance and effect - and they evaluate individual marching, the group's total performance (hitting sets, starts, stops, style, etc.), and the effect of the overall performance, which all of the elements play into.  As I have told the kids, you can't have a show with good effect if it isn't performed well.  The visual judges score us from 0-20, for a total score between music and visuals of a possible 100 points.

Color guard and percussion are rated from 0-20 points each, but this is only used to figure awards; it is not part of the band score overall.

You can read a little more about it here.

The MSBOA judging is, really, completely different.  I can tell you for a fact that the categories haven't changed since I was in high school, though the rating system has.

There are three judges for MSBOA: Music, Marching, and General Effect/Showmanship.  Basically they roll all of the jobs of the Scholastic music and marching judges into two people instead of four, and the GE judge kind of works off both music and marching as well (remember up there where I said you can't have a good effect without good music and marching).

MSBOA no longer awards points, though they did when I was in HS.  Now each category on the adjudication sheet receives a letter grade - A through E - and a "preponderance of ratings" calculates the final rating.  So in order for a band to receive a First Division (I) from a judge, at least three of the five categories on the sheet must be rated as an "A."  The sheets are combined for a final rating, and again a "preponderance" is sort of an issue - a I, I, II rating from the panel would equate to a I overall.

What are judges looking for?  Everything...  Seriously, they look for an awful lot - are kids in step, are they stepping off together/stopping together in between moves, are their lines straight, are their curves connected, etc., etc.  Musically they are listening for good intonation (are the instruments in tune with each other, are the chord notes tuned, etc.), good tone quality (a "characteristic" tone - not blatty, ugly brass playing, no shrill woodwinds), articulations, dynamics, starting and stopping notes together, balance, blend, and the list goes on.

Both programs weight music very heavily, though the MSBOA judges are all given equal weight in the final rating.  This is to make sure that we as teachers are teaching them to play music well and not just do really cool moves.  Since we want to encourage music-making as kids become adults, and there just aren't that many adult marching bands around, we want to make sure we are training good musicians.

I hope that sheds a little light on how ratings and scores come about!


Notes on the Fall Show

In my last post I discussed adjudication and some of the finer points of what judges are looking for.  For this session, as I wait for the jazz band to arrive on Tuesday morning, I'll focus on the music for the show.  This show has been one of my all-time favorites musically, and I know that there are several parents who are maybe not familiar with the artists we are using, so I thought I'd give you some thoughts.

To begin with, I am really not sure how this music would be classified.  I'd probably call it "pop," but the genre purists would have another term for it, or at least one that is a sub-category of the pop world.  I could text my daughter, but it's 5:30 in Chicago and she wouldn't appreciate that (though it might make up for the 1:00 a.m. Cubs World Series call last year...).  So for now, "pop" it is, and I say that mostly since I hear a lot of these on the radio with some frequency.

Imagine Dragons, Panic at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy (there is some discussion on the spelling of "Fallout," but the other way seems official) are the three bands we pulled from this year.  I think they are all remarkably talented and will have a fairly significant place in pop/rock history.  My daughter is a huge Panic fan, and I have been listening to Imagine Dragons for several years - I would consider myself an early adopter, but I was somewhat forced into it by a former student.  Fall Out Boy has been around for quite some time now; I first heard of them nearly 15 years ago while teaching a music appreciation class at Cityside.

So...  The tunes.  The show opens with "Hallelujah" by Panic at the Disco.  Old guys like me will immediately recognize the opening fanfare as coming from the old Chicago tune "Questions 67 and 68," off of their 1969 double album "Chicago Transit Authority" (the band's first name until it was shortened to simply "Chicago").  If you are into classic rock, lots of horns, and some screaming guitar stuff, you really need to check out this album.  Some 50 years later this band is still great - I saw them two years ago at DTE Music Theater.  This opening is somewhat of a full circle experience for me, because nearly 40 years ago as a student in the West Ottawa HS band we opened our pre-game show with "Questions."

But I digress...  This isn't about classic rock bands (or is it??).  From "Hallelujah" we move into Imagine Dragons' first smash hit "Radioactive."  This tune is a great example of the overnight success thought - it was around for a long time before Top 40 radio got a hold of it!  Listeners may be familiar with their current hit, "Believer," which, quite frankly, doesn't stand up to the rest of their library.

The second part of the show is almost always a slower section, and it is pretty tough sometimes to find slow, pretty stuff from pop music (Rush was a particularly difficult assignment).  This year we have "What a Catch, Donnie" from Fall Out Boy, and "Impossible Year" by Panic.  The original version of "Catch" is actually written for and about Donnie Hathaway and Roberta Flack, a songwriting duo from the 1970s (I thought this wasn't a classic show??).  Mr. Hathaway committed suicide in 1979, and this tune pays homage to him and his legacy.  Part two of Part Two is "Impossible Year" by Panic at the Disco, and I am more than convinced that the songwriter is a fan of Kander and Ebb Broadway musicals - this tune bears a fairly close resemblance to "Maybe This Time" from the musical Cabaret.  I haven't checked out the facts on that, and the tune from the musical production is a little faster and such, but the similarities are there, in my opinion.  The full hornline gets to really bring it home at the end of this section of the show with a huge full band scoring.

The show ends with a trio of tunes from Fall Out Boy and the Dragons - "Demons," "Centuries," and "Light 'Em Up."  After a soft opening, the piece picks up steam and ends with high energy and again everyone getting a chance to open up and get the sound through the instruments and sort of melt the faces of the audience :)

Here is a link to the YouTube playlist so you can hear all of the originals.  And this link will get you to the Chicago tune.  And this one will take you to Kristin Chenowith singing "Maybe This Time."

Hope you've enjoyed reading!


Monday, October 2, 2017

Week of October 2, 2017

It's October, and that means the marching band season roars into full swing and we are very busy for the next two weeks.  After Oct. 14 things calm down so much that we won't know what to do, so that's good.  A big push to the "end" of the season (not counting football games - East has a playoff guarantee, and I'm guessing West will win out) and then we can relax.

Here are some things you need to know for all of this activity:

TONIGHT - Rehearsal at the stadium, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  We have two more of these, including tonight, to finish polishing all of the things we need to polish before festival and Grandville, and just tonight to get ready for Hastings on Saturday.

Tuesday, Oct. 3 - Color Guard, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.  LAST ONE of the season for the guard.

Friday, Oct. 6 - Game night.  Same drill as the last two weeks: dressed and ready to go by 5:55 and out on the practice field.

Saturday, Oct. 7 - Our "doubleheader" for the season.  We haven't done one of these in many years, but it really helped the student government people with Homecoming planning and also avoided a third weekend of activities.  We will begin with the parade in the afternoon, feed the kids some dinner, and head to Hastings around 5:30 p.m.  This LINK will get you the specific itinerary.

Next week, October 9 - 14, will see us very busy as well, then things come to a halt as far as after school requirements (we have one more home game on the schedule on Oct. 20).  Things are going very well so far; tonight and next Monday we need to put all of the finishing touches in place to be ready for our remaining performances.

 - We are holding another MATTRESS SALE here at school on October 21.  This is an excellent and very easy fund raiser.  90% of the work is word of mouth and social media/texting/etc.  The remaining 10% is several people working on that day to help customers and do some loading and unloading of the mattress "showroom" in the cafeteria.  If you have done this before and might be interested in being in charge this year (taking over the reins from Bob and Becki Sumrall), please let me know.  Again, it's probably the easiest fund raiser there is, and it usually nets us several thousand dollars for band trip funds as well as some general expenses.

 - The WIND ENSEMBLE will present their fall concert on Thursday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Lokers Auditorium.  This group is doing double duty again this fall as they prepare music for this concert as well as the marching band show.  We hope to see everyone on the 19th.

 - Waaayyy advance notice for the Christmas parade, TubaChristmas, and awards night, which all happen on Monday, November 27.  After making application to the Harvey Phillips Foundation, we have been selected as an official TubaChristmas 2017 site!  This event is open to all ages of tuba and baritone players and will happen immediately prior to the parade at the official tree lighting ceremony.  More info will be sent later, but tuba and baritone players (and alumni...) will be involved in this fun performance downtown.  Our annual awards night will happen immediately after the parade.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Week of September 25

LOTS of things to be happy with from last week, capped off by a very good first performance in front of the home crowd.  Many good things happening; final touches over the next three weeks will put us in a good place to do very well!  Here is what you need to know for this week.

TONIGHT: Rehearsal at the stadium, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  Kids should dress in shorts and Ts and bring water!
 - I realize that there are lots of things in students' and families' busy schedules, but I am restating the policy that I may pull kids from the show on Friday if they miss tonight's rehearsal.  It is vital for each and every student to be in attendance in order to properly set forms, learn new visual ideas, etc.  Athletes with games/matches are the exception to this.  Illness or other absences will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but students may indeed be pulled on Friday if they miss tonight.  

Tomorrow: Color guard rehearsal in the band room, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Friday: East Homecoming game.  Same basic drill as last week - kids need to be ready to go around 5:45 p.m.  I would like to be on the practice field by 5:55 to run the show.

FUTURE: Games on Oct. 6, 13, and 20.  Pumpkin Fest parade on Oct. 7.  Hastings competition on Oct. 7 (evening), MSBOA Festival on Oct. 10, and Grandville competition on Oct. 14.  Once we get past Oct. 14, things slow down a LOT in the band room!

Picture Days!  North American Theatrical Photographers will be here on Monday, Oct. 23 and Tuesday, October 24 (during the school day) to take individual pictures for our composite wall outside the band room.  We get these done every 2-3 years.  More info on ordering, etc. at a later date.

"Les Miserables" at DeVos Hall for Broadway Grand Rapids.  We have reserved a block of 80 tickets for this event on a first come, first served basis.  You may access the order form and all of the information here -  Orders and money are due by THURSDAY of this week before I open it to the rest of the Performing Arts department classes/organizations.

Health and well-being: the kids did a really great job on Friday in the record-breaking heat.  We did have a couple of students with bad reactions to the weather, but overall things went very well.  Parents and medical staff attended to the students in question and both were sent home with parents.  Thank you to all who assisted on Friday night to make sure all of the students were taken care of!  No doubt this week they will all complain about the cold - it is supposed to be a high of 65 this week, compared to 95 this past Friday...

Have a great week.  Questions, etc. -

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Uniform Information

In the "better late than never" category, this was intended to go out in last week's Monday post, but our emails crossed in cyberspace.  From Kim Sprtel regarding uniform things everyone should know:

  • Uniforms are kept at the school
  • Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors: Please make sure that you have been re-fitted for marching uniforms this year. Please make sure your shoes and gloves are clean and brought in before Friday!
  • What to wear UNDER the marching uniforms: 
    • WARM WEATHER: deodorant, gym shorts (definitely no cargo shorts), spandex shorts, WHITE t-shirt with SLEEVES or band shirt (sleeveless or tank-tops are NOT ACCEPTABLE!)
    • COLD WEATHER: deodorant, UnderArmour, trackpants or lounge pants. JEANS ARE NOT ALLOWED! WHITE t-shirt or band shirt (MUST have sleeves)
  • FOR ALL MARCHING PERFORMANCES: students MUST wear WHITE SOCKS that are CALF or KNEE-LENGTH SOCKS (No-show socks, ankle socks, colored socks or footies DO NOT QUALIFY)
  • BEFORE Performance: Locate uniform and hat.  
    • Uniforms with last name A-L will be located in the UNIFORM ROOM. M-Z uniforms will be located in hallway outside of band room.
    • All hats will be located in the band room. They are color-coordinated according to instrument: RED: WOODWINDS, BLUE: PERCUSSION, YELLOW: BRASS
  • AFTER Performance:
    • The entire uniform MUST be hung on the hanger in the garment bag and placed where they were located before (all garment bags need to have the name tag facing the outside). Shoes can be placed in rear pocket of garment bag, please make sure to zip it closed.
    • Hat and gloves go in the hatbox and placed on shelf in the uniform room in color-coded sections.
  • If any items are wet from rain, etc: they MUST be left out to air dry to prevent mold growth.

  • The Color Guard Uniform is kept at home and students arrive to performances dressed in uniform.
  • WARM WEATHER: You need to wear a BLACK tight-fitting tank top or spandex shorts.
  • COLD WEATHER: Wear a Black tight-fitting long-sleeve shirt or UnderArmour.

Please do not make any adjustments (sewing, re-snap) to the uniforms since we like to have them at certain adjustments (i.e; pants above the ankle). If you have any adjustments that need to be re-done, please ask Kim since she will be there before all performances and is available during the day as well.

Please feel free to contact Kim with any questions or comments - (