Thursday, November 16, 2017

DETAILS for the rest of November

Good Morning -

I was going to make this three different emails, then decided to go the blog post route, figuring that everything in one place might be a better idea.  Over the next couple of weeks we have a few fun things going on, and the following details will be important to some or all of you, depending on the event!

LES MISERABLES at Broadway Grand Rapids - Tuesday, November 21
 - If you are taking SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION, we will be meeting at the band room parking lot at 6:00 p.m. and LEAVING at 6:15.  We have three school vans for the 24 people that paid for transportation.
 - If you are driving yourself/your family to DeVos Hall, please plan to meet me in the lobby between 7:00 and 7:15 to pick up your tickets. (The show starts at 7:30, and I really enjoy my time in the theater before curtain, reading the program, checking out the pit orchestra, etc - please don't be late.) If you will need to get your tickets before Tuesday, please call Cathy Lugten at 748-3111 so she can make arrangements for you.
 - Student apparel for the evening should be at least somewhat nice - please leave the ripped jeans, etc. at home for this. 

TUBACHRISTMAS happens near the Splash Pad in downtown Zeeland on Monday, November 27, right before the Christmas parade.
 - ALL tuba and baritone/euphonium students from ZHS are "expected" to perform - please let me know if this is not possible.
 - Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Cityside band room, and will be followed by a rehearsal at 5:00 - 5:30.  
 - There is a $10.00 registration fee per participant.  This is a national event and we are an official site, and we are required to collect this fee from all participants.
 - Students may choose to purchase the TubaChristmas book of carols for an additional $20.00 - this is not required.  It is good at all TC events in the country (future ones, too), and a few students have expressed an interest.
 - Do YOU play euphonium or tuba??  Then you may join us!
Further information for all can be found here: https://docs.google.com/a/zps.org/document/d/1pVeSD_fTxN1NM6hm8elV5vrzsNs4udYFZXelWcJF7wg/edit?usp=sharing

ZEELAND'S DOWNTOWN MAGICAL CHRISTMAS PARADE - also Monday, November 27, at 6:30 p.m.  Tuba and euphonium players will hustle back to the beginning of the parade route by Cityside after TubaChristmas happens.
 - UNIFORMS will be street clothes with marching band parkas, festive holiday headwear, and whatever decor will work on band instruments.  Color guard will be in "Ugly Christmas Sweaters" or other festive apparel for the evening.

2017 ZHSMB AWARDS NIGHT will happen as soon after the parade as possible on the 27th.  Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend as we look back on the season with some fun and serious awards and a season highlights video.  Start time ca. 7:30 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium; should last about an hour.

Monday, November 6, 2017

November Happenings

Though things are farther apart and not as numerous as the first couple months of the school year, November does bring with it a few calendar items to bring to your attention and/or keep in mind.  Marching/football season is officially over as of last Friday night, but we still have the Christmas parade at the end of this month.  

Monday and Tuesday, November 5 and 6 - picture proof viewing in the band room.  North American Photo will have reps here today and tomorrow for you to come in and order picture packages, which should be ready for Christmas gifts, from 3-8 p.m. both days.

Parent/Teacher Conferences are also happening this week.  You've probably seen plenty about those, so I won't add to that.

Tuesday, November 14 - ZHS Jazz Band concert at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Admission is free for this concert as the jazz band presents music from several different eras for their first performance of the year.

Tuesday, November 21 - Les Miserables at DeVos Hall.  If you've purchased tickets for this performance, we will have them for you at the theater that night.  If you need them earlier, you must contact me in advance in order to pick them up.  More information on bus travel time will be given out at a later date.

Monday, November 27 - this is a fairly busy evening!
 - TubaChristmas begins at 4:30 p.m. with registration at Cityside and a performance downtown at 5:45 (specific details will follow, but if you would like to join, it's open to tuba, euphonium, and baritone players of all ages!).  Our tuba and euph sections will be anchoring the ensemble, and we have heard from a few community members as well.
 - The Christmas parade begins at 6:30 p.m. through the streets of downtown
 - We have added back to the calendar, by popular demand, the marching band awards night after the parade in the auditorium.  This is not a required event, but is always a fun look back at the season from band camp through festival with pictures, videos, speeches, and awards.  We could probably even figure out a way to get cookies and hot chocolate afterward...

That takes you through November as far as I can tell.  I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday - my favorite one of the year!

KW

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Word About Band Placement

Now that marching season is coming to a close, it will soon be time to think about performing concerts on stage as we begin the time of year that several students refer to as "sit-down band."  There are frequently questions about how we go about placing students in each group and what the general expectations are regarding this.

Students in grades 9-11 are required to perform an audition in the spring, which is submitted as their final playing exam.  All students must complete two of the three sections of the exam; the third is optional for students wishing to place into the Wind Ensemble, our top performing group.  Eighth graders are given all of the materials as an option to audition, but are not required.  Mr. Good, Mrs. Bier, and I sit and discuss placement for those students who choose not to audition, but they are generally placed into Concert Band.  (It is very rare that a freshman will be placed into Wind Ensemble - the most we've had in that group is four.)

First and foremost, we want everyone to be successful and comfortable on their instruments, and the advantage of having three concert ensembles is that we can accomplish that to a much larger degree.  In theory the groups would progress by age: Concert Band would be largely populated by freshmen and sophomores, Symphonic Band would be sophomores and juniors, and Wind Ensemble would be made up mostly of juniors and seniors.

In actuality there are some crossovers for various reasons: some students "self place" and ask to be put where they are most comfortable.  Sometimes this is due to the demands of practicing that a higher group may put on them, sometimes it is for reasons known more to the student.  Other crossovers happen for instrumentation concerns (we need a certain amount of French horns in each group, for instance), and still others simply due to the fact that this or that young student is advanced in playing beyond his or her year in school.

Occasionally I do make placements based on seniority and work ethic.  This happens most frequently in Percussion Ensemble for assigning marching band instruments, but has also been a factor in bands as well.  Part of this system also includes a "best fit" kind of practice: sometimes it is better for a person, perhaps a year younger, to be a higher chair in Concert Band than one of the lower ones in Symphonic Band even if he or she is "better" than someone placed above.  This gives the student some leadership experience as well as placing him/her on a part that will bring out some strengths.  Speaking as a trumpet player, for instance, I more often need players who can blend and balance well on the inner parts - if I had all the power players in one group it wouldn't work well for any of the bands.  This is known in the business as "paying dues," and it is something that is rewarded in future years.

Which leads me to my final point, which is that part of the process is also to make sure that placement benefits all players and bands as well as considering individual strengths.  Will there be a person who can qualify for a higher band placement?  Yes.  And sometimes, for the benefit of the band over the student, that student is not placed as high as he/she could be.  As mentioned in the above paragraph, there are frequently many reasons for this, but first and foremost is ensuring that students can be successful, and that all three bands have balanced instrumentation and a good core sound on stage.


Week of October 23

I hope you all got to see the performance at pre-game on Friday night - over 400 students and alumni getting together for the pre-game show was a pretty spectacular sound.  It was great to see so many alumni out for the event, and I have already heard from a few 8th grade parents who have said their kids had such a great time.  Thank you to all who helped in any way - we managed to feed all of those people and get everyone where they needed to be.  And we were ten minutes ahead of schedule!

This week there are just a few things to tell you about, so I thought I would put together a quick post.  It's unlikely that I will do one next week, but you never know...

TODAY and TOMORROW - picture days in the band room/on stage.  At the moment there is really nothing that parents need to do for this.  It will take place during class or after school.  You will receive a postcard in about three weeks telling you about viewing the pictures here at school, which will be the time you can choose a package of poses for your family if desired.  There is no obligation to purchase, but many families do.  I am anticipating that packages will be available by Christmas if you are looking for gift-giving ideas.

FRIDAY is the first playoff game - East vs. West 2.0.  At this time we have decided to staff the game with Track Band and not do full band.  Several factors led to this decision, among them the idea that the fall play starts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and the full band would cause some trouble for that.

ALL-STATE auditions happen here at school on Thursday or Saturday.  Students have been given audition times; complete details will be out by tomorrow.  SCALES are the things that most people "fail" at with these auditions.  There is no room for error!  Check in with your child and make sure he/she is ready.  I will be available after school Monday and Tuesday for assistance.

That should do it for this week.  Thanks for a great fall season!  

KW

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!!

KW

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!

KW

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!

KW

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.

FUTURE DATES: 
 - 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 - https://goo.gl/forms/lqutvdgwMVuOAg4J2  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. - kwalker@zps.org


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:

MARCHING UNIFORMS:
  • 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.

COLOR GUARD UNIFORMS:
  • 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.
  • FOR ALL MARCHING PERFORMANCES: students MUST have BLACK SOCKS (CALF or KNEE-LENGTH) and BLACK SHOES.

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 - (kbmlsprtel@gmail.com).

Monday, September 18, 2017

Week of Sept 18, 2017

Good Morning - 
This week things kind of get "real," as they say, and we begin a fairly long stretch of performance weeks.  This coming Friday, Sept 22, is our first required, full band performance (all students).  We will be performing the entire show at halftime, and I think it will be pretty good!  Here is what you need to know for the week:

TONIGHT - rehearsal at the stadium 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  We need to put the finishing touches on everything for Friday's debut.  It's week 5 of HS football, and the band hasn't been seen yet.  We need to be good!

Tuesday, Sept. 19 - Color Guard, band room, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 22 (this is shaping up to be a big day...)
 - MORNING assembly for Fox 17 News.  I have zero details on this right now, but I know we will have the marching band in the gym at a relatively early hour...
 - Pep assembly for West Homecoming in the afternoon
 - GAME Friday night.

  • Report time: Varies.  I want students dressed and ready by 5:45 p.m.  We will discuss this idea in class this week
  • Parent volunteers are needed for several things.  A SignUp Genius will be sent soon!
  • Uniforms are kept at school.  Students change in and out of them in the building and return them to the uniform room after the game.
  • We stay for the first half as a band, then students are excused to change and head back to the game if they would like.
Other things for your consideration and/or future planning:

NAME TAGS: Please make sure your child's instrument has a name tag on it so it is easily identifiable in case of loss or confusion.

MSBOA Festival is October 10, here at Zeeland.  This is the one and only date throughout the entire year that I have a "no compromise" policy.  I expect all students to be here at the required time (unknown at the moment, but usually around 7 p.m.).  I already know there is a swim meet and a volleyball match.  Please make sure your children are talking with their coaches about this conflict.  Whatever game time they are able to get in before reporting to band is fine, but this particular night is pretty off limits to meeting us at the field as we are heading in for performance (which does happen on other occasions!).  Just some advance warning for you.

MONDAY NIGHTS are critical to our success as a group.  There is not another time that we meet as a full band!  Please do everything to make sure your child is at rehearsal - I know there are sports conflicts, but everyone else is expected at each Monday rehearsal.  I started a policy last year in which I reserve the right to pull a student from the performance on Friday if he/she has missed Monday night.  

That should do for today, I think.  As always - kwalker@zps.org for any questions or concerns.

KW

Monday, September 11, 2017

Week of Sept. 11, 2017

Well, with the first week of school under our belts, things might soon settle into a routine here in the band room.  You never know...  Here are some things for your consideration for this week:

MONDAY, Sept. 11 - 
 - "Meet the Teacher Night."  4-6 p.m.  You are all more than welcome to come in and visit, but most of you have met me before.  If you haven't been to the HS band room yet, this is your chance.
 - REHEARSAL 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. at the stadium

TUESDAY, Sept. 12 - Color guard 7 - 9 p.m. in the band room

FRIDAY, Sept. 15 - Home football - TRACK BAND 5:45 p.m.

Our first full-uniform, required performance will be on Friday, Sept. 22  Details will be given in various ways both to students and parents prior to that time.  These include, but are probably not limited to:
 - How, when, and where to put on uniforms
 - Where to find new shoes, gloves, plumes, etc.
 - How to act and perform while in uniform representing the school
 - Requests for bottled water to be provided for the band
 - Requests for assistance with uniforms and field equipment
 - Expectations of time when we are finished

The first three items above will be communicated exclusively to students; the remaining will be combined between students and parents, which brings up...

COMMUNICATION
I have actually been accused, believe it or not, of over-communicating.  Via this blog, email, Twitter, and Facebook, in addition to the old-fashioned "word of mouth that kids have to pay attention to," word gets out frequently and in many media.  Here are some thoughts about communication:
 - "Ask three before you ask me."  I use this one with students in class, etc. as a way to not answer things that someone else can answer.  Things like "what time is the game," "do we have rehearsal tonight," "where do I report," etc. are things that are communicated via one of the above methods, and students need to know them.  If they forget, they need to ask a friend, section leader, drum major, etc. With 200 students, I would be answering questions all day if we didn't have some sort of plan like this!  
 - The important stuff, though, like "I will be missing XXX because of YYY reason," can be sent directly to me by either parent or student either in person or by email.  Parents, I strongly encourage you to let your children do this before you get involved.  It teaches them important skills that they will need as they reach adulthood, so they might as well practice now!
 - Facebook and Twitter kind of need to be "one-way" tools - if you send a Facebook message via the FB band page, I might not see it; same with Twitter.
 - Remind is absolutely a one-way tool for me.  As convenient as it is to use it as a text messaging app, I just can't do it.  As with email, I need time to not be a teacher.  In addition to that idea, too many messages in too many places is asking for me to forget things.  If they are in my email inbox, I have them all in one place.
 - EMAIL is my very favorite method of parent and student communication.  It is the most efficient and is easily organized.  I read emails when I am in school.  Once I am gone for the day, usually around 3:30 p.m., I don't check them until the next day.  When I arrive at school at 6:25 a.m., the first thing I do is check my email.  If it is possible to reply immediately, that is what I do.  If I need to do some further research, like speak with a coach or another teacher, then I reply as soon as I can.  If you send an email that says your child will miss a performance that is more than a month away, I may not reply right away at all due to the lengthy timeline available.
This system has worked well for me for a few years now, especially since we were issued iPads.  In our 24-hour connected world, I need to disconnect from my job (and firmly believe that everyone else needs to as well) in order to remain at least partially sane.

We should be finishing up the halftime show Monday night, and we always do a run-through of whatever we've accomplished around 8:30.  If you'd like to come and see it, since you didn't get to at band camp, Monday might be a good chance to do so!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

First Weeks of School 2017-18

As summer winds down and school winds up, here are a few items for the next couple of weeks to help you navigate what is going on in the band room.

Schedule-wise, we have three Track Band events in the next couple weeks - this Friday, Sept. 1, and next Fri/Sat, Sept. 8 and 9.  Track Band is a volunteer organization to which all students are welcome.  It's a more informal game day situation - no uniforms, no marching - just playing songs and having fun on the track by the student section.  Report time is 5:45 p.m. in the BAND ROOM to prepare for the game.  Ideally students would wear band shirts or school colors, but there is no required outfit.

MONDAY NIGHTS continue to happen.  There are only five more before festival now!  Labor Day we will have off, and then we start back up on Sept. 11.  All students are expected to attend as outlined in the course description and syllabus; athletes are excused for games only, and if possible are expected to get to rehearsal after their events.  I understand that sports practices sometimes go until 5:30/6:00, so that means your child maybe eats a very fast dinner and arrives to band practice still sweating without a shower.  

JAZZ BAND will not meet on Tuesday, Sept. 5 for the first day of school, but will start on Wednesday morning at 6:45 a.m.  The band room door from the parking lot will be open for students to enter.  Other doors may be open as well, but I am not sure what the plans are at this point for the new EHS entrances.  The jazz class list can be found here - https://sites.google.com/a/zps.org/zhsband/jazz-band - there was some confusion last week, but it should be straightened out now.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL activities will not involve instruments, but students may bring them and claim a locker on Wednesday (Day 2).  This will allow the "seniority" factor to apply - seniors get first choice, etc.  Color Guard will not need instruments at school until mid-October unless they are in Wind Ensemble.  

I received the email from the MSBOA state office literally moments ago outlining the requirements for auditioning for the MSBOA All-State ensembles.  I will get information out to students next week.  This is not for everyone; if your child is interested, please have him/her contact me so we can talk about it.

I will once again be sponsoring the ZHS Mountain Bike Club for interested students.  See me for more information.

I think that covers things for now.  I am working on freshman names, but as usual do not hold out much hope for myself before late September!  I am up to maybe 10%.  20 on a good day.

Thanks!

KW

Monday, August 14, 2017

Welcome Back!

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting in my office between a meeting and working at the bike shop, so I thought I'd take some time and write a quick post about upcoming events, etc.

The end of camp was NOT what any of us wanted!  I do like some closure, and the disjointed timing and weather issues with Friday's camp day totally prevented that.  It is always cool for the kids (and me...) to show off for the parents and have an "ending" to the week, but we made the best of it.  Thanks to parents and kids for being flexible with rides, etc. on that day.  

On the bright side, it was a great week of camp and we got a lot done.  We made it through the whole show by Thursday afternoon, which is our usual pace/goal, so Friday was not a problem at all.  (Other than the freezing cold rain, I mean...)  The music is sounding great and the visuals are coming along; I think it is going to be a great show.

TONIGHT is our first Monday rehearsal.  We will be reviewing the show at the stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Plan to drop off and pick up from the stadium.  TUBAS are back at the band room parking lot (still in the trailer due to Friday's weather issues), so kids need to stop there first.  Tubas and drumline equipment need to get back to the band room after rehearsal each night.

Tomorrow the color guard will again have a session.  They meet in the band room from 7 - 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY is NEW this summer.  For many years I've tried to make pre-game a better experience for everyone - band, fans, team, etc.  And every year it gets put to the back burner as other priorities become more important.  With our daily school schedule it is virtually impossible to run a pre-game rehearsal, so I decided to add a couple nights in August.  We will meet at the stadium at 6:30.  Varsity football players are not required to attend, since they'd be at games when this goes on the field.  We will work on a pre-game routine as well as music for the school songs, the "Big Z Fanfare," the national anthem, and some stand cheers (download everything you need - https://sites.google.com/a/zps.org/zhsband/Home/pre-game-music?pli=1).  I'm hoping we can get something on the field that the crowd can respond to; we may even try to bring back "Script Chix."  We'll see.

That should do it for this week.  According to our superintendent, only about 35% of mass emails are ever opened, and Monday is the worst day to send them  Guess what day it is...

Let me know if you have any questions - kwalker@zps.org


KW

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tulip Time 2017

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 9 - "Dazzle" show at Central Wesleyan Church.  This is for jazz band and the Have You Heard percussion group only.  Rehearsal Tuesday morning at the church.  Meet in the band room at 7:15 so we can load the bus/trailer and leave by 7:45.  Show time Tuesday night is 8:00 p.m.  Specific details regarding report times will be given in class (because I don't know them yet).

PARADES on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday:

ALL OF THE PARADES BEGIN AT 2:00 P.M.
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/parades/volksparade-maps-info/
  - Thursday: http://www.tuliptime.com/parades/kinderparade-maps-info/
  - Saturday: http://www.tuliptime.com/muziekparade-maps-info/

WE SHOULD BE RETURNING TO SCHOOL BY 3:30 - 3:45 P.M. EACH OF THE THREE DAYS.
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...).


PARENTS TRANSPORTING STUDENTS PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:
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.
  • I prefer to have one sheet per parade day, but if you fill one out for all three days I will make do

ATHLETES PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:
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 softball girls who have been on top of this situation for a few weeks!  If I have not heard from you regarding an athletic conflict, I assume there is no problem and that you will be marching.

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL STUDENTS:
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.
  • There is to be ABSOLUTELY NO PLAYING OF INSTRUMENTS UNLESS WE ARE ALL PLAYING TOGETHER. 
  • 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 wish I could make that sentence flash and shoot lightning bolts and stuff...)
  • 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

Friday, April 21, 2017

April/May 2017 - Pre-Tulip Time Edition

"Spring has sprung and the grass is ris'n..."  There are lots of ways to complete that couplet, and I can't think of any that rhyme with "Tulip"...  Anyway, there is plenty going on around the band room, so I thought it would be a good idea to get another blog post up.  There will be a separate one at a later date for Tulip Time final details, which are not complete yet - lineups are not available from the TT office.

IMPORTANT DATES:
 - Final playing tests are DUE next Tuesday, April 25.  Students have had these materials for several weeks now (made available prior to spring break), and have been informed of due dates, etc.

 - Jazz Band auditions are DUE on Friday, April 28.  We are re-auditioning all students this year in addition to any incoming freshmen.  Again, students are aware of this and have had their materials.

 - There will be a MONDAY REHEARSAL for Tulip Time on Monday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m.  Rain date will be Monday, May 8, same time.

 - The final concert for the Wind Ensemble will be on Wednesday, May 17 at Lokers Auditorium at 8:00 p.m.  

 - Tulip Time parades are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, May 10, 11, and 13.  All parades begin at 2:00 p.m.

 - The jazz band and the "Have You Heard" percussion ensemble students will perform at Tulip Time's "Dazzle!" production on Tuesday, May 9 at Central Wesleyan Church.  The concert begins at 8:00 p.m.

 - We have moved the final jazz band concert date and location.  The new date is Saturday, May 27 at the Lawrence Street Park band shell.  The concert will begin at 3:00 p.m.

 - Graduation performances are May 31 and June 1.  Concert Band and Symphonic Band will be performing - one each night.

FINAL PLAYING TESTS/AUDITIONS
Students were given playing test materials for this prior to spring break, as mentioned above.  This playing test gives me an opportunity to evaluate each student on several different aspects of their playing, and is a good comparison from the beginning of the year.  This year, as last, students are submitting their tests via Google Classroom using their iPads.  
In addition to this being a playing test, it is also a placement test for concert band season for next year.  As you know, we have three concert bands at ZHS: the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band.  We try to place students where they will have the most success on their instruments and learn and improve the most. while still being conscious that each band needs a balanced instrumentation and overall sound.  I consider the Wind Ensemble to be AP Band.  This class is truly not for everyone.  They perform five concerts per year in addition to all of the marching band responsibilities, and are expected to be good sight readers and learn their parts.  Most students find the music very challenging.

JAZZ BAND AUDITIONS
This spring looks to be a banner year in the jazz department, with nearly 30 students signed up to audition for 18-19 slots.  I would like to hear all of the current students in addition to the newcomers.  My goal is to be able to offer an alternative to the jazz class, in the form of a club, for students who do not get placed in the class.  I would like everyone to have the opportunity to play, so I will do what I can to make things happen for everyone.  We don't quite have enough players for two complete bands, but there are far too many for only one, as this group has limited instrumentation.

MAY 1 EVENING REHEARSAL
Since the marching band full unit rehearses as four separate class hours, it is necessary that we get together for the parades before Tulip Time.  My plan is for about a 90-minute rehearsal from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. on Monday, May 1.  Since all four classes have been working on things, it should be quite easy to get things put together.  Athletes should plan on getting to school as soon as they can.  I realize that some people will have to miss, so we will make do.  Rain date for this will be Monday, May 8.

CONCERTS
Both the Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble have one more concert this school year.  The Wind Ensemble will perform on Wednesday, May 17 at Lokers Auditorium.  Much to the delight of most of the woodwind section, we are performing all 19th and early 20th century music (and even one from 1715 or so).

The Jazz Band, originally scheduled on the same date as the Wind Ensemble, decided to do something a little more fun and host an outdoor concert.  As you know, finding a date that every single kid/family could make it proved nearly impossible.  We finally settled on Saturday, May 27 (yes, Memorial Day weekend - they figured they'd be around for marching Monday, anyway) at the band shell at Lawrence St. Park at 3:00 p.m.

CALENDAR 17-18
Speaking of dates, the band calendar for 2017-18 will be published by May 15.  This calendar will be thoroughly vetted and researched, and checked by Cathy Lugten and Andrew Patten before I send it out.  It is my sincere hope that my calendar disability will be limited to the current school year and I will be cured in the future!  My apologies again for the various changes we made; some were due simply to my error, others came up due to unforeseen circumstances based on making a calendar over a year in advance.  The errors this year enabled me to plan better for next year, and we should have our Dux and Chix in a row!  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 2017

Since March is national Music in our Schools Month, it seems only natural to get these kids off the streets and onto the stage and have them perform about once a week or so for the entire month!  This post should help you navigate the waters over the next few weeks to make sure everyone is where they belong.

THIS WEEK:  Legally Blonde: the Musical will be staged Wednesday through Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Several band students are participating either on stage, back stage, or in the pit orchestra.  Tickets are on sale now via Cathy Lugten at 616-748-3111.  

Saturday, March 18: MSBOA State Solo and Ensemble festival at Portage Northern High School.  We have a fair number of solos and ensembles participating again this year; the only negative is that it's in Portage and not at Grandville or West Ottawa!  Today's email from MSBOA promises the schedule will be available by tomorrow afternoon.  I will distribute the schedule online via Google Classroom as well as email to parents.

Sunday, March 19:  Several Percussion Ensemble students will be assisting the Holland Symphony Orchestra at their instrument demonstration area for the HSO Family Concert at DeWitt Auditorium.  These students will then perform at the opening of the HSO concert.  (This involves students who are performing in "Have You Heard.")

Saturday, March 25:  Our annual Guest Artist Series concert with the high school and middle school jazz bands.  Join three jazz groups as they perform great music with guest artist Dr. Nathan Warner at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Dr. Warner is the trumpet professor at Lee University in Tennessee, and spent many years in New York City as a freelance trumpet artist.  Admission is $7.00 per person to help offset costs.

Sunday, March 26:  The high school Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble present their annual spring concert at 2:00 p.m. in DeWitt.  Dr. Warner will join the HS Symphonic Band for Leroy Anderson's "A Trumpeter's Lullaby," and all three bands will perform.  Admission is free.

Tuesday, March 28:  The ZHS Percussion Ensemble will perform in their annual concert at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt.  See what the percussion section does when they are not the drumline or standing in the back of the band.  Lots of great music from Mozart to modern.

And after that?  I sure hope spring break is nice...  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Since not all students are involved in every event listed, it will also help to ask them when they are playing and for what.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January Concert(s) Details

Looks like winter is once again upon us as I write this post; here's hoping that everyone stays warm and comfortable over the next couple weeks as we prepare for our two concerts coming up.  This note includes as many details as I can think of at the moment:

SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 - Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble concert - 2:00 p.m., DeWitt Auditorium.
This is the bands' annual winter concert, and each performing ensemble will present music that we've been working on this term.  
 - Report time: Concert Band and Percussion Ensemble - 1:30; Symphonic Band - 1:45; Wind Ensemble - 2:00
 - Apparel: Concert Band students will wear black pants or skirts with white tops.  Black shoes, black socks.  Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will wear school tuxes/skirts; black shoes and socks for boys, black shoes for girls (hosiery is left to your discretion).  Percussion Ensemble will wear all black.  (I prefer a long-sleeve shirt, but as long as it is all black you will be fine.)
 - This is a required performance for all students.

MONDAY, JANUARY 16 - Jazz Band combo concert, Drama Room at ZEHS, 7:00 p.m.
This concert is a team collaboration between Mr. Miller's Technical Theater class and the jazz band.  The band has been working on performing in small jazz combos and focusing on improvisation; the theater class has been working on lighting and sound reinforcement (amps and mics) for a live performance.  Mr. Miller suggested we combine forces, and the result will be this informal concert.  All jazz students will perform at least one improvised solo that evening, which is something slightly less terrifying than public speaking (did I say "less"?  I meant "more"...).  
 - Apparel:  All black, as we did for our November concert
 - Report time - 6:40 p.m.

Admission to both of these events is free; we hope to see many people in the audience!