Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hastings Details

As promised yesterday, here are final details for this Saturday's competition at Hastings HS.  Parents, friends, neighbors, etc. are all welcome to come to this public event.  Admission is $6.00 for adults and $5.00 for students and senior citizens.  The whole day begins at 1:00 p.m., and your admission is good for all 20+ bands, so if you want a full day of marching band, get there early and enjoy yourself!

REHEARSAL will begin at 3:10 p.m. at the stadium.  The band room will be open by 2:45.  We need a good hour or so to review Friday night and get focused for the evening show.

DINNER will be served at about 4:30 p.m. by the band room.  Hot dogs, etc. will be served.  (There are a few folks following a gluten-free diet; I ordered GF pizza for you for Friday, but you should plan on bringing something for the dinner on Saturday.)

We will GET DRESSED and LOAD THE TRAILER AND BUSES after dinner and plan to leave campus at 5:20 p.m.  This will give us slightly over an hour to get to Hastings.  We are planning a time cushion in the travel time here, because it has been many years since we've performed at Hastings; unloading 200+ people and getting them from point A to point B sometimes takes a while, especially in unfamiliar territory.

Our warm-up time is 7:15 p.m.  We get 30 minutes to prepare on site (music only - no marching).

We perform at 8:00 p.m.  There are two bands after us (Grandville and Hastings), so we will wait for them to finish.  Awards are announced at 8:45.  After announcements we will head back to the buses and pack up drumline and tubas, etc. and head for home.  

We should ARRIVE back at ZHS between 10 and 10:30 p.m.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Week of September 26

Hello from the band room.  This week should have been our second or even third full uniformed performance, but it will only be the first!  Friday we are in front of the West crowd, and Saturday in front of judges at Hastings.  We will be ramping up the intensity a little bit this week as we get closer to our goal of MSBOA festival on October 11 (two weeks away...).  Here's what's up for the week:

TONIGHT - Monday, September 26 - Rehearsal at the stadium 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  Only one weather forecast says we might get some rain; the other three channels say no.  I am telling the kids to bring rain gear - we can't skip rehearsal tonight.  In the event of rain woodwinds will case instruments to avoid damage, but we will be rehearsing providing it's not a deluge.  (Apparently this year's freshman class has been plagued by weather issues for years now - snow days for festival, rain on parades, etc.  I believe Mrs. Bier used the word "cursed."  Cool...)

Tuesday, September 27 - Color Guard 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Band room/dance studio

Friday, September 30 - FULL BAND REQUIRED PERFORMANCE for the West vs. Holland HS game.  The HHS band will be joining us for pre-game and we are sharing halftime.  Thanks to all of you who signed up for assisting with the pizza, etc., for after halftime.

Saturday, October 1 - FULL BAND REQUIRED PERFORMANCE for the Hastings Marching Band Invitational.  I will send out a separate blog post detailing the final information for this.  We will be rehearsing for about 90 minutes in the afternoon, feeding the students some dinner, and performing in Hastings at 8:00 p.m.  Look for a SignUp Genius later today to do some donations and provide assistance.

PUMPKIN FEST is coming up on October 8.

I have decided to CANCEL the October 15th performance at Grandville.  That is a great place to play and would be a good opportunity to wrap up our season on a high note, but the week is simply too busy, so you can clear that date from your calendars.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Another Edition Regarding Some Great Music

I'm sitting in my office on a Friday after school, putting off a few things that I really should get finished (like cleaning my desk and other fun stuff like that...), waiting for the game crowd to arrive in an hour or so, and thought I would give another listen to a great tune.  Which reminded me that I had planned to share another blog post of my music appreciation thoughts.  Problem solved!  I can sit at my desk, listen to music, and put stuff off til Monday!

Last winter when the band traveled to Memphis we stopped at the Stax Records Museum.  Some of my earliest childhood memories are rooted in the Stax library; my older brother and oldest sister would listen to "Soul Man" by Sam and Dave on the Stax label, Arthur Conley's "Sweet Soul Music," countless Motown artists, and many others.  (We moved to west Michigan when I was about 7; the older siblings spent their music-formative years in the Detroit suburbs, and I'm glad they taught me how to read the labels on the 45 rpm records, forming not only my literacy education but also my musical tastes!)

Because it's a studio and not a record label, I don't recall seeing anything specifically from the Muscle Shoals studio as a youngster, but I picked up a DVD at the Stax museum about this small town in Alabama that was home to two of the most influential recording studios in the country.  I showed it in class at the end of the year, and I was excited to learn some new things myself.

The Muscle Shoals sound started in the early 60s at FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  A few years later, the house band, calling themselves "The Swampers," left FAME and formed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.  These four influential session players would go on to back up countless top recording artists on several different labels.  Fun fact: you've all heard Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home, Alabama," right?  The line that goes, "now Muscle Shoals, they had the Swampers"?  Well, there you go.  A reference to this studio and its awesome house band.  House bands were a big thing back then; Motown had one (it was a session bass player with the Funk Brothers that came up with the famous bass intros for "My Girl" and "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," for instance) .  So did several other studios.  These house musicians were featured on dozens of recordings and were a big reason artists sought to record at Muscle Shoals.

First of all, the scope of style of artists and music recorded at Muscle Shoals is almost second to none: everyone from Wilson Pickett in the early 60s to the Rolling Stones in 1971 ("Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses") to Lynyrd Skynyrd (yep, "southern rock" was born at this studio), to Cher, Bob Seger, Paul Simon, and dozens of others.  You really should check out the documentary we watched - Muscle Shoals: the Incredible True Story of a Small Town with a Big Sound.
This was also the studio that brought together an unlikely pair to record a cover tune: Wilson Pickett, an African American born in Alabama but raised in Detroit (where he developed his music), and Duane Allman, a white southerner, got together in 1966 to do an amazing cover of the Beatles' "Hey Jude."  (In my opinion, Pickett's soaring vocals, Allman's screaming guitar riffs, and the Muscle Shoals Horns' background licks far outshine the original Beatles recording , though admittedly I've never been a huge Beatles fan.)  This version peaked at #13 on the Billboard charts.  According to an interview in the documentary, it was shortly after this that the Allman Brothers got going, followed soon after by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and "southern rock" was born.

Check it out sometime!  A quick Google search brings you lots of hits for Muscle Shoals.  Here are a few of my favorites from way back, including the Allman/Pickett version of "Hey Jude."  Pay some special attention to the horns, the Hammond B3 organ, and the great guitar stuff.  I've also included the Allman Brothers' "Soulshine," which I heard this past summer for the first time in some many years, and what a great tune to make the connection between gospel music and rhythm and blues/rock styles.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Week of September 19

Looking back on Friday night, I've decided to try to see at least some humor in the situation, since if I didn't I would probably just continue to shake my head in wonder...  What a night.  The kids did a great job getting here on time, had all their stuff, pre-game went well, and then, well, let's just say it went downhill very fast.  I've spoken with several parents who had uniforms hanging in the garage dripping for hours; we just moved a sousaphone from point A to point B in the room, and several ounces of water poured out of the bell as it was picked up.  There is a famous saying:"It's not raining until I say it's raining."  Wow.  It was definitely raining Friday night...

Anyway, here is the weekly update.  Not too much to report - another almost relaxing week before things ramp up in a serious way.

TONIGHT - Monday, September 19 - FULL BAND rehearsal at the stadium, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  Goal of the night is to have the entire show back on the field by the end of the rehearsal.  We need to review and remember "Fly by Night."  Again, extremely important for all students to attend on Monday nights; we only have three more after tonight and it's festival time.  Not sure if it is still early in the season or if I am seeing the results of only rehearsing full band one night per week, but we have some very rough spots that need to be cleaned.  Very soon...

Tuesday, Sept 20 - Color Guard rehearsal in the dance studio 7 - 9:00 p.m.  The Holland Symphony will be rehearsing in the band room, so if you come in that way please be very quiet and respectful.

Friday, Sept. 23 - East home football - TRACK BAND.  

Upcoming events:

  • Friday, Sept. 30 - West Football vs. Holland - ALL
    • HHS band will be joining us for pre-game and halftime that night!
  • Saturday, Oct 1 - Hastings Invitational
    • Most likely a late afternoon performance
    • I will publish times when I know them
That should do for this week.  There is probably more, but I decided to spend some family time yesterday rather than come in and straighten the room, so I need to do that right now!

Have a great week - 


Monday, September 12, 2016

Week of 9-12-16

As promised, here is the first of several probably weekly blog posts dealing with all things ZHS Band.  You can tell by the catchy title that I spend a lot of time with creative thought on these...

Here are some things for parents to be aware of for the upcoming week:

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12  Monday night rehearsal, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. - Stadium
Mission critical.  Vital to our success.  Absolutely necessary.  Can't live without it.  These and many other similar phrases have been going through my head (and out of my mouth toward your children's ears) the past several days.  We meet in FOUR SEPARATE class hours, meaning that our Monday rehearsals are literally the ONLY CHANCE we get to rehearse and fix things as a group.  Our Friday night time together before the game is not really a rehearsal as much as it is a review.  Please help me and the band out by making sure your child is in attendance at the stadium for these sessions.  As a new procedure this year, I reserve the right to "pull" a student from the performance if he/she misses Monday night rehearsal.  I realize that there are a few athletic events that take kids away from this, and that is different (I am working with some West coaches regarding tonight and the conflict with Meet the Teachers Night).  Students who need rides need to ask around; jobs, babysitting, etc, etc. need to be rescheduled.  We cannot afford absences.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13   Color Guard rehearsal, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.  This session will once again be in the dance studio.  The Holland Symphony will be rehearsing in the band room.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16  East Homecoming Football
Report time to the band room will be 5:45 p.m.  Students need to locate uniform parts, get dressed, etc., and we will have a show review time before marching to the stadium at 6:30.  This performance is REQUIRED for ALL students.

Other items of interest for you:
 - I have started using the Remind app for marching band.  I am easing into this idea and will eventually expand it to either include a parent "class" or simply add parents to the band class that their child is in.  For those who don't know what Remind is, it's basically a one-way texting app that allows me to send a message to all students at once regarding reminders, schedule changes, etc.  Several of my colleagues use it and are very excited about it.  I hope to make good use of it as well.
 - If you're reading this you are already on the parent email list.  If this was forwarded to you, email me at kwalker@zps.org and I will add you to my list.
 - There is a band Facebook page.  This is more of a "see what's happening" sort of page rather than information or similar items.  I do not use that page as a communication tool except for emergency cancellations, etc.  It's a public page, so you do not need a Facebook account - https://www.facebook.com/Zeeland-High-School-Marching-Band-339133719554320/
 - We also have a Twitter account - @zhsband - that I use periodically.  Nothing terribly special to follow, but occasionally I will tweet pictures or video of class or performances.  Like Facebook, I also use Twitter for emergency schedule changes.  

  •  You may be interested in these past blog entries
    • Track Band http://zhsbands.blogspot.com/2015/08/track-band.html
    • Communication http://zhsbands.blogspot.com/2015/08/communication.html
    • I am working on one regarding band and athletics and how we resolve conflicts, etc.
That will have to do for this week.  As always, please direct questions or concerns to kwalker@zps.org