Sunday, November 29, 2015

Week of November 30

I thought I would take a few of the last minutes of Thanksgiving break and work at least a little ahead for the week.  Since there's not a ton happening, this will be more of a recap than a things-to-come post, but there is at least one of those as well.  So here goes:

MONDAY, November 30 - Christmas parade and awards night.  The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. on Main St.  Students are to be lined up and ready to go by 6:00 p.m. in front of Cityside.  UNIFORMS will be the band parkas and street clothes with Christmas-type hats/headwear.  Students are free to decorate their instruments with lights and garland, etc., as long as they still operate.  The equipment trailer will not be available for this event, so students/parents are responsible for getting equipment to Cityside.  Thanks for your help!

Immediately following the parade we will have our annual awards night in the auditorium.  (Yes, the same one that got re-scheduled twice...)  We have been doing this event for about 12 years now, and each year it seems to draw more people.  With 225 in the band this year, the auditorium should be pretty full!  A few years ago we decided for the sake of convenience to put both of these events on the same night so students and families wouldn't have to give up additional weeknights.  We will start in the vicinity of 7:15 p.m.  There will be some fun awards and some serious ones as well as a season highlights video.  This is not a required event, but it's always a high point in the year as we look back on the last few months.

Speaking of the last few months, it is very hard to believe that come Thursday it will be three months since band camp started.  In those three months we have seen friendships formed, missions accomplished, and much laughter (and a few tears...).  The flexibility and adaptability of this great group of young people was never more on display than it was last Friday as we made yet another trip to the MHSAA State Football Finals.  From getting things rolling on Monday morning to returning to school at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, I was once again reminded that I have a pretty great job.  First of all they somehow convinced me that we really didn't need a rehearsal on Wednesday (besides, it was going to rain).  Not many people realize we hadn't practiced that show at all since running it on October 30 at the game vs. Plainwell.  (shhh... don't tell...)

But the performance, for me, wasn't the real highlight of the trip.  No, that came at dinner at Bahama Breeze on the way to Detroit.  No fewer than three of the BB employees made comments to me about how great our kids are.  The head server made it a point to come over to me as I was finishing dinner to tell me that "this is the most polite, well-behaved group of teenagers we've ever seen.  We have adult groups that aren't this good.  Everyone has said 'please' and 'thank you,' and they are just great kids."  So there you go.  Success.  My point to the students (and now to you, though I suspect you already know and understand this) is that any interaction we have with the public may be the only interaction we have with that public, and the impression we leave means a lot.  The staff at the restaurant didn't care that we've strung together a long line of I's at festival, or that we've been the best band at Tulip Time for four years running.  They weren't going to the game, either.  The sole interaction they may ever have with Zeeland schools in general was Friday  night, and our kids lived up to my/our expectations.  Some pretty positive PR, and we didn't even perform!

See you Monday night for the festivities.  Have a great week.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Week of November 16

Greetings from the band room!  This should be another short post, but will also include some information for the future.  I hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weekend and managed to get outside and do something besides yardwork...

The Dux pulled off another win on Friday night, lifting the team to 11-0 for the season!  This week they travel to East Kentwood to take on Forest Hills Eastern in the Div. 4 semi-finals.  As has been our practice in past years, the band will not be traveling to this game but we wish the team the best of luck!  If the Dux win this weekend they will be in the MHSAA Div. 4 State Championship game on Friday, November 27 at 7:30 p.m.  The band WILL travel to that game; details will follow next week if needed.

TOMORROW night we have another chance to raise some supplemental cash for the band trip with a fund raiser at Vitale's from 4-8 p.m.  Vitale's will donate 15% of your check back to the band program during these hours.  Here is a flyer for you to print and bring with you (click here for download), or we will have them at the door.  Let's see if we can do as well as we did last week at BWW's...
BAND BOOSTER NEWS:  Be on the lookout the next day or so for the next booster communication.  We decided to cancel the November and December meetings due to schedule conflicts with many people and will resume in January.  Amy Ransler and I will put together an email with fund raiser and other pertinent info for this month.  The next meeting will be January 28 (the 4th Thursday - exam week and the Michigan Music Conference the week before) at 7:00 p.m. in the band room.  These meetings are open to anyone interested in attending.

THE NEW MARIMBA IS HERE!!!  If you have been following the ZHSMB on Facebook, you probably saw the news last Wednesday that the new Yamaha concert grand 5-octave marimba had been delivered and assembled.  This beautiful instrument will complement the other keyboard instruments in the percussion section, adding a smooth and mellow bass end to our two other marimbas.  Our advanced percussion ensemble literature frequently calls for the extra octave, and we have not had it until now.  This instrument, along with several tubas, French horns, bassoons, and oboes, was purchased through the bond money that the voters passed last spring.  We are very grateful for their generosity!!  Here is some video of Alex Cooke and me putting the instrument together last week:

The band room is also looking pretty good this week after a crew of ambitious youngsters who had nothing better to do on their day off decided to come in to school on Friday and clean and straighten.  I promised to not tell their parents any names for fear that parents would then expect room cleaning and dishes to be done at home, but I am indeed very appreciative of their work.  We spent a couple hours getting things in order, and are very pleased with the result:
That should be it for this week.  Hope to see you at dinner tomorrow at Vitale's!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week of November 2

Happy spring!  That is certainly what the weather is like the last couple of days, and that is fine with me.  I am taking advantage of the great weather this week by spending more time at home/outside than I do at school for a change.  I'm sure that next week will be back to the regular "balance" of time.

This could be a very short post - NOTHING is going on this week.  (You can officially stop reading right now if you are pressed for time.)

Since there is still room for more words and I am not doing anything else right now, here's a run-down of some other stuff that you may be interested in:

Next Tuesday, November 10 is the first concert of the year for the Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble.  Both groups will perform at 7:30 p.m. on the DeWitt Auditorium stage.  Admission is free.  After you're done with parent-teacher conferences, stop down to the auditorium for an evening of great music spanning about four centuries!  (Please note that I will be wrapping up conferences immediately at 7 p.m. in order to prepare for the concert.  There will be no opportunity for me to stay later.)

Speaking of conferences, we teachers have been told that the fall conferences will be taking place in our classrooms.  I think this is great, since it gives you all a chance to see where your kids do what they do every day.  I will see what I can do to get a loop of marching band pictures and video playing on the screen for your entertainment as you wait in line to see me.

BAND TRIP:  The room lists are complete and will be shared with students as soon as tomorrow.  Chaperones have been tentatively assigned to groups of students, so the next logistics step will be signing up for buses.  I received word yesterday afternoon that the guest artist for the Liberty Bowl will be country star Craig Morgan.  I am not familiar with any of Mr. Morgan's music, but I did notice that Angie Harmon, one of my favorite TV actresses, is featured in one of his videos (I did a YouTube search...).  Hopefully we will have music soon and begin learning and memorizing for the December trip.  As far as payment, etc. is concerned, Cathy Lugten has been quite diligent at keeping people up to date with accounting.  Please let her know if there is a problem with your account.

Lately in class the large 4th hour group (161 students in grades 9-12) has split into two concert groups for the next 18 weeks or so.  The Concert and Symphonic bands are working on music for the winter concert, which will take place on Sunday, January 17 at 2:00 p.m.  This concert will include the Concert and Symphonic bands as well as the Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble.

Concert uniforms have been distributed to Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.  Concert Band students should provide their own concert outfits of black pants/skirt, black shoes, black socks, and white shirt/blouse.  Please make sure your child's wardrobe includes these items prior to January 17!  Percussion Ensemble students will wear all black - pants, shoes, socks, shirt.  Please no jeans or athletic shoes.  Let me know if you are having difficulty putting together an outfit; I have several things available, especially men's shoes.  In the future we hope to use some fund raising money to supplement our collection of tuxes and dresses so that all students except percussion (I like them in all black, and it's something everyone seems to have) will have a school-issued concert uniform.

Enjoy your week of not having to chase kids somewhere for band practice or performance!  And a special thanks to all of the parents and students who helped out last week with All-State auditions Thursday evening and Saturday morning as well as the parents who have been a constant presence at our games and performances!  We have received many positive comments regarding the combined band efforts at last Friday's game.  It was so great to have Dave Hepinstall back and to hear his students and give him a chance to conduct our band!  (We would have combined the bands for the national anthem, but we both use very different arrangements, and there wasn't the necessary time to re-learn for either of us.)

Thank you for reading.