Sightreading Eclipse

Not to start off on a tangent, but apparently according to Blogger “sightreading” is not a word. So I Googled it, and indeed it should be written as two separate words. As confirmed by Wikipedia.

As a lazy musician, I refuse to accept this and will continue to write the word as “sightreading.”

Speaking of sightreading, my high school band sightread my newest piece for concert band, Eclipse. As she has been every year, my band director was helpful and generous in the fact that she lent her rehearsal time to me for this opportunity and that she took the time to learn the score to conduct the piece. She also encouraged the band members to write constructive comments on their parts so that I could see what they thought about the piece.

Overall, the reaction was positive. This was my first big trial with minor, fast paced pieces, and with that in mind I think it was fairly well-received. As always, I learned technical things regarding different instruments that I had not known before.

Now, with all the constructive criticism that I have collected, I plan to revise the piece soon. Unlike my previous pieces for concert band where I wrote them and forgot about them, I plan to actually revise this piece to its fullest potential.

Oh, and just in case she reads this, I’d like to end by giving a big thank you to my band director.

Conducting the Band

I had an interesting experience today in band. Our director was out sick, and had asked a student conductor to conduct in her substitute plans. Minutes after walking into band, the band president asked me if I wished to conduct. And of course, I accepted.

By no means am I a great conductor, but I love conducting and would take any chance to do it. After all, how would I learn without these experiences?

The Class of Beauty

Today during band, our band director said something that struck me as profound. To put it in context, here was the situation:

We were playing Steven Byant’s Dusk, and we came across the block chords that were supposed to be the climax of the piece (around measure 42, if I remember correctly). Being a high school band in its second full week of rehearsal, we weren’t doing so well. But this piece was, or rather, is all about the consonant beauty and the dissonant tension. It is the perfectly meshed cohesion of the two that make this piece truly fantastic.

Wanting to convey that to the band, our band director proceeded to emphasize the beauty that this piece can be. And I mean emphasize. Of course, the newer members found it comical and there was a round of laughter around the room. Then she said: “In all your other classes, you lean mechanics. This is the one class where we can make beauty. Can we do it without laughing about it?”

Of course, her intention was not to distinguish band from all the other classes. But I feel as if she did it more clearly than anyone possibly could have. Perhaps that’s why I find band to be the relief of my day. Perhaps that’s why I always seem to end up in the band room in my free time (Well, that’s probably because I’m a band geek). And perhaps that’s why music is truly an escape from school and the work of life, because I know that whether I’m playing, writing, or listening to music, I know that I am a part of something truly beautiful. 

Band Concert

On May 25th, our school’s Concert Band had its last concert of the year. It was a bittersweet occasion marked by amazing musicianship and sadness for the leaving Seniors. All the months that we spent preparing for this concert suddenly seemed all worth the work.

The Concert Band played Casey at the Bat, a musical interpretation of the poem of the same name, by Ernest L. Thayer. It was an exciting piece that included a narration of the poem as we played the piece. Never had I played with a narrator before. The Band also played music from The Star Wars Trilogy, composed, of course, by the renowned John Williams and arranged for concert band by Donald Hunsberger. As the theme of the concert, if you haven’t already guessed, was something along the lines of “the greatest stories ever told,” we spent the evening with many Star Wars quotes, jokes, and even donning baseball caps during our performance of Casey at the Bat.

Many Chamber Ensembles also performed, including the Percussion Ensemble, Saxophone Quartet, and the Woodwind Quintet. I myself was a part of the Woodwind Quintet, and was able to perform the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Greig, arranged for Woodwind Quintet by Joachim Linckelmann.

The evening turned out to be fantastic, as friends, teachers and other adults congratulated me and the band on our performance. It was clear that the audience had thoroughly enjoyed the concert. After all, when you end with a piece like Star Wars, how can people not love it?

I’d like to end with two things:

Seniors, I will miss you all very much. I have no doubt you’ll all come back to visit us next year, your musicianship and skill will be greatly missed, not to mention your humor and enthusiasm!

And last but most definitely not least, I would like to give a tremendous thanks to our band director, who has taught me for two full years now. I must say that with each concert, something improves, and I have no doubt that will be the case with each and every concert in the future. But not without your unmatched dedication and support for our musical growth. You have influenced my life in ways unimaginable. So, although I feel that two words are not enough to convey my feelings toward you, I put all my Heart and Soul into them: Thank You.

Star Wars Movie Night

Due to the fact that we are playing the music of Star Wars in our school band, we decided to get together and have a Star Wars movie night where we would watch the entire original trilogy at once. Needless to say, it was an absolute blast of 7 hours, with friends. Since I hadn’t watched the movies in quite a while, it was a great experience for me to enjoy the music that I not only love, but now am playing!

Following Up

Following up on the previous post, I’m trying my best to learn how to use Cubase. More specifically, these things:

1. How to compose using Cubase and my MIDI Keyboard.
2. How to import my compositions from Finale and assign instruments to each track so that I end up with a realistic sounding ensemble.

That said, I need all the help I can get right now, because I’m having a very difficult time figuring out these things. I’ve spent hours reading manuals, looking at online forums, tutorials and such. Anybody who can help out there?

On an unrelated note, a beautiful song that our band played last year:

A song that means a lot to me because it reminds me of someone special, who had a very special role in playing this song in our band.