Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Band Camp Reduix, T-Shirts, and Assorted Other News

Band camp was a pretty huge success!  We changed a few things around to accommodate construction, scheduling, and other things, but we did camp, dispensed uniforms, and had a great time without really ever using the band room during the day.  Friday it was a little sad that we didn't make it to the beach, but when we had to make the call there were red swim flags flying at Tunnel Park, and I just couldn't imagine four busloads of kids not being allowed to go in the water at the beach...  It ended up saving some money since we didn't have to pay for buses, so that's good.

Thank you to all of the volunteers for the week, whether you assisted with uniforms, "medical" staff, cooking Friday's lunch, or handing out popsicles or otherwise.  We really appreciate your help!  (I just spent about an hour organizing uniform money checks and accounting for which kids have paid how much money, and I grew even more appreciative of the folks who come in to help out with that sort of thing.)

T-SHIRTS will be ordered next week!  This year they are truly "charcoal" in color - a dark grey edging toward black.  They will have the Rush logo on the front (included in a design by a ZWHS student) and everyone's names on the back.  Parents, students, friends, and neighbors may all purchase as many shirts as they'd like.  No one is required to purchase, but we do ask that you return check or cash by next Monday, August 22 (at Monday night rehearsal).  If this presents a problem, let me know.  It is difficult to do more than one order due to the temporary nature of the screens for printing.  

Speaking of things that cost you money - can we do something that will help (I hope) on both sides of the equation:
 - There are several items that need some sort of payment or other.  For MY convenience, it would be very helpful if you could write separate checks for the separate items (like a check for uniform fees AND a check for T-shirts) so I can keep track of what money went where.
 - For YOUR convenience, if you have more than one child or are ordering more than on shirt or paying two uniform fees, etc., you may write a single check for as many kids as you have.  Make sense?  That way you're not writing six checks for T-shirts and uniform money.

 - For the convenience of everyone, especially to make sure things get properly credited, please fill out a DIFFERENT form for each item and child, but you may include one check for payment.  So if you're ordering seven shirts for seven different people in seven different sizes, fill out seven different order forms, but feel free to write one check for all of them.

HOPE COLLEGE game on Saturday, September 3.  
At this point you know as many details as I do - there is a Hope game on that Saturday and the band is performing.  I don't know when the game starts, etc.  I hope to find this information out very soon; if Hope doesn't contact me by Friday, I will be in touch with them.  This of course brings up the reality of family vacations, etc. on Labor Day weekend.  Totally understandable, so please let me know if that weekend is a problem.  Community Day at Hope is traditionally their first home game.  We rotate in every third year with Holland and West Ottawa; when the state of Michigan passed the law requiring a post-Labor Day start of school, this game became a bit of a problem!  If you're in town, I expect that kids will be in attendance.  I will get you further details as soon as possible.

Monday night rehearsals have started up as of last night; 6:30 - 9:00 at the stadium (usually - last night there was a scheduling snafu due to last Friday's weather).  We will rehearse next Monday at the stadium.  The band room will be open for students to get equipment before rehearsal begins.

Our first home football game is on Friday, August 26.  This is a game handled by Track Band, which is a voluntary organization.  All students are welcome and encouraged to attend, but it is not required.  We will play the school song, national anthem, etc. for pre-game, and some cheers and assorted noise-making during the game, and some sort of performance at the half.  This early in the year it is pretty tough to play much, though!  It's a fun time and much less formal than a uniformed football game with the full band.

That should do it for now.  Please feel free to email me if you have any questions - kwalker@zps.org.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

So... Rush??

I thought I'd take a minute and write a little about the original artists of our fall show.  Rush is a Canadian "prog rock" band that has been around for several decades now, and it seems that people have either never heard of them or they totally love them; no middle ground here!  So for those of you who are on the "never heard of them" end of the spectrum, I give you the following...

First of all - "prog (progressive) rock"?  Well, a simple explanation is that it's rock music taken to a more high-brow level - more intricate melodies, time signatures (Rush uses 7/4, 7/8, 5/8, 3/4, 3/8, etc., compared to most pop, rock, country, and CCM, which is mostly an easy 4/4 or 3/4), "deeper" lyrics, and more epic song lengths (check out Rush's 1976 album "2112," in which the entire first side of the record is a seven-movement story of the future and a young man who finds a guitar).  So the progressive rock movement was an effort to elevate the rock genre to appeal to a more poetic, artistic (snooty??) audience.

Rush is a trio of musicians all hailing from the great white north (if you remember the parody song of that name by Bob and Doug Mackenzie around 1980 or so, you will remember that Geddy Lee sang backup on it).  Geddy Lee (lead vocals, bass, bass pedals, synth, general awesomeness), Alex Lifeson (possibly rock's greatest guitarist of all time), and Neil Peart (if you can still see the drummer there aren't enough cymbals) are the second official iteration of the band, though really the only one everyone knows.  Peart and Lee were added to the group after two members left for various reasons quite early on.  

Starting with the self-titled "Rush" in 1974, which achieved gold record status in the US and Canada, they followed quickly with "Fly By Night" and "Caress of Steel" in 1975 and "2112" in 1976.  Several things happened between "2112" and 1981's "Moving Pictures," which is without a doubt their finest album (and also the first major rock concert I attended - Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo my junior year of HS...).  "Permanent Waves" is also pretty good, as is "Hemispheres," but in my opinion they had some pretty average output after that, though Sarah V may disagree with me.  And she is known to do that.

Speaking of Sarah, she is largely responsible for this year's show idea.  She is a great musician and a lover of great rock music (a tribute to her upbringing!), and she and I talked well over a year ago about the idea of bringing a Rush show to the football field.  Even had one almost ready to go last year, but I held off for no particular reason.  Audiences will remember Sarah from her role as bassist from the 2014 funk show as well as being one of the members of our snare line.

So the final pieces we decided on for the show:
 - The Spirit of Radio (from "Permanent Waves," 1980)
"Begin the day with a friendly voice,
companion unobtrusive;
plays the song that's so elusive
and the magic music makes your morning mood"

So begins the first verse of a song that lyricist Neil Peart wrote originally "as a tribute to all that was good about radio."  It turned into a parody-type anthem of all of the commercialism, programming, and other problems of the industry; ironically, it became popular on the radio.  The final chorus - "the words of the profits {not "prophets," as from Simon and Garfunkel's Sound of Silence, but "profits"} are written on the subway walls and echo with the sound of salesmen" - was written as a jab at the music industry.

 - Lakeside Park/YYZ ("Caress of Steel," 1976, and "Moving Pictures," 1981)
The only difficulty with a show like this is finding something easier on the ears and more down-tempo and relaxed.  Rush is not exactly known for their power ballads!  Lakeside is a celebration of a park on Lake Ontario, and May 24, referenced in the lyrics, is Victoria Day.  
I wanted to try some of YYZ in the show, but it's truly one of the most difficult ones to pin down.  It starts in a fast 5/4 time with what was originally Peart on a triangle solo, banging out the Morse Code for "YYZ," the call letters of Toronto's Pearson Int'l Airport.  From there it breaks into hard-driving instrumental, broken by solos on bass, guitar, and drums.  We've decided that the drumline will be featured in the solo sections instead; they are working hard!

 - Fly By Night ("Fly By Night," 1975)
Written by Neil Peart at age 18 about his desire to travel and explore the world.  One of their more mainstream tunes stylistically, it's a pretty good rocker and makes a great closing number for the marching band.

I put together a YouTube playlist as I was preparing and thinking about this show.  Here's a link for you to give a listen.  I included all the songs we talked about putting in the show, so there are a couple extras here that we aren't playing.  (I really love Freewill, but just didn't relish the idea of teaching the band to march in 7/4 time for most of the tune...)

Hope you enjoy the show this year!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Band Camp Details Clearinghouse

I thought it would be a decent idea to post the last few emails here so people could refer to them as needed or as they get added to the parent email list.  So these are the emails I've sent out the week of July 25.


 - 8:00 a.m. ALL freshmen and new students - BAND ROOM
 - 11:00 a.m. ALL students - STADIUM

8:00 a.m. drop-off for new students will be in the north lot by the band room - please plan on one-way traffic in a counterclockwise motion (we will have some directors), and remember to enter via 100th St. and take the far north drive into ZWHS.
11:00 dropoff AND PICKUP FOR ALL will be at the stadium.  Students will need to take instruments HOME at night - the band room is far away.  (There will be storage for tubas, drumline)
5:00 p.m. Done for the day

The rest of the week will begin and end at the stadium

Please send plenty of sunscreen with your student, and make sure that he/she has EATEN BREAKFAST and done some pre-hydrating.  It is everyone's goal (and everyone's responsibility) to ensure that all students remain healthy and hydrated all day every day!

There will be a lunch break daily for an hour; students may choose to stay on campus (the band room will be available, but it's a walk) or will have time to travel to the various area establishments.

Please make sure you fill out the beach permission slip for Friday and send it Monday or Tuesday.

Emails to follow will include some signups for the Friday cookout and providing some water coolers, canopies, etc. for the week.


As promised, here is email #2...  Should be the last one today.

We are planning on providing lunch for the students on Friday and can use lots of assistance.  Here is a link to sign up to help:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0D4AA5AE2BABFB6-band1

Use this link if you'd like to help out by providing water jugs or a tent canopy:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0D4AA5AE2BABFB6-water

We would definitely appreciate an adult or two to provide assistance with any students who may feel ill during the day so that the camp staff can be fully involved in teaching on the field.  Please consider signing up for a 2-hour shift to be available in case of illness:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0D4AA5AE2BABFB6-medical



There always seems to be one more detail that escapes my attention, and indeed that was the case yesterday.


The band has a year-long program for raising money for future trips that is a really simple and amazing deal for everyone involved.  You can get some BASIC details here - http://zhsbands.blogspot.com/2013/11/scrip-or-how-i-learned-to-pay-for-my.html - but for now, we will offer the first Scrip session of the year at the STADIUM next Monday afternoon as you pick up your kids from camp at 5 p.m.

There are still a few spots available for bringing a grill for our Friday cookout - everything else seems to be pretty well filled up - http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0d4aa5ae2babfb6-band1

Medical monitors are all in place as well; I will be contacting a few folks to double check on the Friday shift.

As far as water coolers and canopies, we look OK.  I also confirmed this morning that there are school-owned coolers at the stadium, so we will make use of those in addition to the ones that have been volunteered.

Thanks!  Still wondering what happened to June and July...  See you Monday!!



The uniform crew asked me to pass this along.  Information for fittings this week.  Please remember that it is VERY important that we get this finished by Thursday!  

Good Morning - 

Just want to remind everyone about the uniform fitting schedule.   Please adhere to the schedule as much as possible.  If your student(s), will not be able to make it during the designated times, PLEASE contact Myka Eckert at 231-670-1391/mykaeckert@yahoo.com or Kim Sprtel at 989-915-9510/kbmlsprtel@gmail.com to set up a different time. 
THURSDAY, AUGUST 4th from 5-7:30 PM: FRESHMEN N-Z & anyone else missed
Your student will be coming home with a sheet indicating amount of fees that will be owed (new white shoes, gloves, marching uniform cleaning), please make sure to return this money by Friday 5, 2016. We need the money ASAP to order the needed supplies for your student. For returning students, the fees are $17 ($2 new white gloves/$15 cleaning fee). For new students, the fees are $47 ($30 shoes/$2 gloves/$15 cleaning fee).  

If you have any time available (even 30 minutes), please help us during uniform fittings. It is not hard to do and we have others to show you the way. The sign-up link is below:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Memorial Day and End of Year Details

As I begin writing this, there are officially only ten (10!) more mornings to wake up before school is done for the year.  It seems like it was only a couple weeks ago that I was writing the first post for fall marching season...

Anyway, here are some pertinent details you'll need for Memorial Day and the end of the year.

  • DATE:  Monday, May 30
  • TIME:  Report to Cityside MS by 8:30 a.m. - parade begins at 9:00 a.m.
  • The HS BAND ROOM will be open by 7:45 a.m. for people to get uniforms and instruments.
  • IN CASE OF RAIN the parade has been canceled in the past.  Please pay attention to the band's website, student/parent email, Twitter, and Facebook for updates.  The parade is rarely canceled before 8:00 a.m., so you will most likely already be starting your preparations for it if they do cancel.  Right now the weather forecast looks good.
  • Following the parade, the SYMPHONIC BAND and WIND ENSEMBLE students will proceed to the cemetery for the memorial service.  We will play America the Beautiful, Battle Cry of Freedom, and the national anthem.
  • Immediately after the parade the Concert Band students will return to the band room to turn in their uniforms.  ALL uniform parts should be accounted for, including pants, coat, hat, and hanger.  You may keep your shoes for next year.
  • Immediately after the memorial service the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will return to the band room to turn in their uniforms, including TUXES and DRESSES.
  • ***We still need parent volunteers to help collect uniforms after the parade!  Go to http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0d4aa5ae2babfb6-memorial to sign up.***
  • SENIORS who choose not to march are expected to email Mr. Walker and let him know, though this should have been done by last week at least...
  • SENIORS who choose not to march are still responsible for turning in their equipment BY MONDAY, MAY 30.  This year we are not collecting donated shoes from seniors.
Other end-of-the-year items:
  • School instruments MUST be returned next week for check-in and inventory.  Students will be able to check out instruments for summer use after final exams.
  • Band lists for next year will be posted later today (Wednesday, May 25).  All three bands look great for next year. Balanced instrumentation, etc.  Numbers also look good in each ensemble, although there will never be enough low brass.
  • The band final exam grade will be the Memorial Day parade performance.
  • Percussion Ensemble students must complete their level of "belt testing" by exam day.  These may be submitted via video if desired.  (I will make a Google Classroom assignment to make that easier).
  • GRADUATION MUSICIANS ARE NEEDED on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.  Details have been passed out in class.  Please encourage your child to participate and help us out.  We need about 40 people, with representation from all sections.
  • COLOR GUARD auditions for 2016-17 will take place on Monday, June 6 beginning at 3:15 p.m.  Current members are expected to attend and learn the tryout routine and demonstrate proficiency.
  • DRUMLINE auditions for 2016-17 will take place after school on Tuesday, June 7.  Current members of the HS drumline who wish to move to a different instrument must attend this audition.  Audition materials were passed out in class this past Monday.  
I think that takes care of everything, but I usually manage to think of one or two other items after I publish these...


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tulip Time 2016

Here are (hopefully) all the (hopefully) final details you should need for the Tulip Time performances to be successful and efficient.  Everything starts next week!

Tuesday, May 10 - "Dazzle" show at Central Wesleyan Church.  This is for jazz band only.  Rehearsal Tuesday morning at the church.  Meet in the band room at 7:15 so we can load the bus and leave by 7:30.  Show time Tuesday night is 8:00 p.m.  Jazz band plays the first half, so you need to be at CWC by 7:30 p.m.

PARADES on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday:

We will be at school each day dressed and ready to go by 12:45.  Please allow yourselves plenty of time to arrive at school, find your uniforms, and get dressed.  Students may elect to stay after school on Wednesday and Thursday until the buses leave, but I would honestly prefer that they don't.  On Saturday the building will be open by noon for students to arrive and get dressed.

Lineup information can be found here:
 - Wednesday: http://www.tuliptime.com/v2014/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Volksparade-LineUp05-02-16.pdf
  - Thursday: http://www.tuliptime.com/v2014/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Kinderparade-LineUp05-02-16.pdf
  - Saturday: http://www.tuliptime.com/v2014/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Muziekparade-LineUp05-02-16.pdf
On Wednesday and Thursday the band will be meeting in the general vicinity of Columbia Avenue and 9th/10th Streets for those, such as Dutch Dancers, who need to meet us at the start of the parade.  On Saturday we line up on the north side of 8th St again, next to Pizza Hut.

  • In case of inclement weather, only the Thursday parade has an option for being rescheduled to Friday.  Wednesday and Saturday parades are held unless there is severe weather, in which case they are canceled without a make-up date (I don't recall this ever happening in the 30 years of parades I've done...).

If you are driving YOUR child and YOU are present at the end of the parade, all you need to do is find me and check out your child.  If you are driving OTHER students, THOSE STUDENTS must have a permission slip on file with me stating that they may ride with you.  Students may also choose to meet family members back on the parade route in the audience.  I attached the electronic file to the email for this blog link, and it can also be found here - http://sites.zps.org/zhsband/parent-page.  

  • DUTCH DANCERS should not be considered part of the transportation stuff - I consider Dutch dancers to be "on their own" due to all of their other time and travel commitments, so they are responsible for getting themselves to and from the parades and dance venues on their own unless they tell me otherwise.
  • If in doubt, fill it out!  Better to have too much paperwork than too little in this situation.

There are several folks who are indeed missing a parade in order to participate in an athletic event.  I have heard from MOST of you - please do not assume that because one person on your team is excused, that I know that you are on the same team.  Special kudos to the West JV softball girls who have been on top of this situation for a few weeks!  Great job helping me plan for absences and make adjustments.  You are all set.  If you have not spoken to me or emailed me about this, it's very likely that I don't know what you are thinking.  Might be a good idea to double-check with me in the next day or two...

As we have discussed in class, you are representing yourselves, your band, your school, your community, and in some cases the State of Michigan.  Remember that an interaction that you have with a tourist or community member may be the only one they have with Zeeland.  Make a good impression!  

  • Your uniform is to be completely ON or completely OFF after the parade.  No unzipped coats (take it off if you're too hot) or other variations of the uniform.  Hats and gloves may be removed without concern.
  • If you are walking back on the parade route to meet someone after the parade, make sure to walk behind the audience.
  • Plan to transport your instruments to the parades in their cases.  Uncased instruments on the buses invite damage and unnecessary temptation to play them, both of which would be bad.
  • ALL BAND MEMBERS need crew-length WHITE socks.  
  • I strongly recommend that all students wear earplugs during the parades.
That should cover it, I believe.  If you have questions, please feel free to email me - kwalker@zps.org

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Something About April Showers Bringing Tulips...

Here we are in mid-April, waiting for the annual celebration of the tulip as well as looking to the end of the school year and the start of next year.  Someone said the other day that there are only eight more Mondays in school...

Several things approaching that parents should know about:

This THURSDAY, April 21, we will be having our "almost-monthly" Boosters meeting in the band room at 7:00 p.m.  We will be discussing several business items for Tulip Time and upcoming events for next fall.  Hope to see you there!  The meeting should last less than one hour.

Next TUESDAY, April 26, the Wind Ensemble and several Percussion Ensemble students will be performing at Woodbridge, Quincy, and Lincoln.  Students are excused from classes all day on Tuesday for these performances.  LUNCH may be purchased from Wolfie's for $6.00; students have been given an order form, which is due this Thursday.

TULIP TIME performances will be here before we know it.  In case you've misplaced your calendar, the dates are Tuesday, May 10 (jazz band only), Wednesday, May 11, Thursday, May 12, and Saturday, May 14 (parades).  As usual there are plenty of athletic and AP test conflicts that we will work out.  (For instance, apparently 10/13 girls on the West JV softball team are in band!  Very cool, but obviously a problem for the team if the girls all march.  So we will get it all figured out and make as many people happy as possible.)  Additional Tulip Time details will be blogged later.

WIND ENSEMBLE AND JAZZ BAND performances in May have been consolidated into ONE evening - Wednesday, May 18 st 8:00 p.m. at Lokers Auditorium.  This works out better for both groups for a variety of reasons, and it keeps kids and families (and directors) from being at band performances two nights in a row.

LOTS of potential for fun as we plan band camp next August - there will be parking lot construction at East which will make for all kinds of adventures in pick-ups, drop-offs, and rehearsals.  I will keep you posted with details as we get closer.  DATES for band camp are August 1-5, which you already knew :)

I was pretty sure that there was going to be more to this when I started it a while ago, but it's getting close to when I need to send it, and I can't really remember what else I was thinking, so I'm going to close and get this published.  If I think of anything else I will let you know!


Monday, March 7, 2016

Spring is Near!

...And with the spring comes a whole bunch of things on the calendar for kids and parents to be aware of.  For this post I will concentrate on the rest of March and get us to spring break; that will be more than enough information for one post!  I'll do a calendar list to make it easier.

Today, Monday, March 7: Parent-Teacher Conferences, 3-7 p.m.  I will be in the band office to meet and greet parents who would like to see me.  As with the fall, please re-introduce yourselves; my memory for faces seems to be getting worse...

Monday, March 14: DUE DATE for the spring concert playing test assignment.  Students in Concert and Symphonic bands have been assigned a playing test over excerpts from the spring concert.  They will be submitting these via Google Classroom video.  

Thursday, March 17: Band Boosters meeting, 7:00 p.m.  An agenda will be emailed later this week or early next, but we hope that lots of people will stop in and check out this organization of parents interested in helping the band accomplish things.

Thursday, March 17, Friday, March 18: Proof viewing dates, 2:45 - 8:00 p.m.  The opportunity for parents and students to come and see the pictures that were taken last month was rescheduled from the recent snow day.  Students are not allowed to view the proofs without a parent in attendance.  

Saturday, March 19:  State Solo and Ensemble Festival at Grandville HS.  I received the times for this event last Friday and will be sending them via email (I've tried attaching PDF files here but I don't think it works well).  Once again all three large percussion ensembles will participate along with various other solos and small groups from the woodwind and brass area.  Information will be given to students in the next day or two.

Sunday, March 20:  Spring Concert, 2:00 p.m., DeWitt Auditorium.  Our annual spring concert, which will include Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble (Percussion will be at a later date), as well as recognition of our seniors.  Admission is free.

Wednesday, March 23: Tulip Time Dazzle (formerly TT Salute) auditions.  ZHS band and choir rooms, 4-7 p.m.  Students who are interested in auditioning for slots in the Tulip Time show are encouraged to sign up.  Not a requirement.  Solos, small groups, etc.  Open to many styles of acts - think "variety show."  Let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, March 28:  Jazz Band Guest Artist Concert with Jimmy Leach on trumpet and vocals.  DeWitt Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.  $5.00 admission to help offset costs.  This concert will include the Cityside and Creekside jazz bands as well.  Come out and see this great show!

Tuesday, March 29:  Percussion Ensemble Spring Concert.  A concert of all things percussion.  Small ensembles, large ensembles, and even a couple of flutes thrown in!  7:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Free admission.

Wednesday, March 30:  MSBOA Regional Jazz Festival.  Time and place TBA, but I am hoping for East Kentwood HS during the school day.  No guarantee here, though - it may be after school, but as far as I know it shouldn't go into the evening hours.  (Students were made aware of all of these possibilities before we decided to attend festival, so they know sports will have to be missed if there is a conflict.)  I will keep you posted.

As you can see, it's a pretty busy month, closing out with a bunch of performances in a row!  We do try to keep the calendar "balanced," but auditorium availability, etc. all factor in to how things turn out.  So if a student is attending State S&E, he/she will have double-duty on March 19 and 20.  Same goes for kids the following week - Jazz, Percussion, and Jazz events three days in a row.  I wish we had a little more control over how it all fits together!

Thanks for coming out and seeing what goes on in the program!  Hope to see lots of you in the next three weeks.