I Do Appreciate

Posted on

“Refine your skills so you can support your instincts”

It’s really early Sunday morning and we are on the bus back to NC. Everyone is asleep for the next few hours and I am now listening to some Baltimore Symphony recordings on the iPhone and updating the blog. Samuel Barber and Rachmaninov to start the day. Since I don’t sleep well on the bus, I gotta do something.

I watched the UK game last night and sadly out luck ran out. I don’t think the score should have been that close. Cats did not look like they did last week. Very pleased to go so far in the tourney this year. Next year, I will ignore Colin Cowherd’s advice and go back to pickin the cats to win in the pool.

It’s not over yet, but usually end up amazed that tours that I plan actually end up being very successful and run fairly smoothly. I plan a lot for these things despite having an admitted deficiency as an administrator. My estimates of travel times are working out pretty well and we are not rushed to do any of our activities. I am fortunate to have a ton of great help on the road. The parent chaperones are amazing. Anything that needs to be done, they make happen. They are smart and resourceful and even a bit devious, and so pleasant to be around. They are great at watching over their kids but allowing them to do their thing safely. It’s no wonder these kids are so great with parents like these.

It is also made a lot easier when the kids are all so well prepared and mature when it counts. Everyone knew why we were here and what we were doing and let nothing get in the way of that. It is sometimes hard to know what it is like with most children (for me) because I don’t really work with most children. I work with this group of kids and they are truly amazing kids. They are smart and talented and love playing music. They are dedicated enough to produce a great product when they perform and with what I am asking them to do, it is not an easy task. I am sure not every kid would survive in this group. Those that are here are really special.

The quote at the beginning of this post was written as advice to authors, but translates well to music and the phrase I use a lot – “you must master the technical before you can do the musical “. With students, we spend so much time in rehearsals working on the technical, especially in this band as the technical difficulty of the music is really high. It also requires a lot of individual practice to accomplish this as we only rehearse once a week. So many groups struggle to get beyond this stage, but this group does not. We make it a point to pull the musicality out of the music, knowing that this is were our true connection to music lies. When we can get past the technical to allow the emotional to enter in to the equation, that’s when we have found what is really great about being an artist. We are so fortunate to be able to create moments in time that you can not describe but you know they mean everything to you. True artistry at its finest and even more impressive when accomplished at a young age.

It is one thing to know that you can travel with a group without any real concerns that you will spend your time keeping kids in line, and it is another thing altogether when you perform and become artists in front of everyone’s eyes and ears. I hear it a lot from the wonderful people I have met over the years through brass band, that what we produce as a group is more than just a good band. We do more than just play tunes. We play music. We connect with it and even more impressive, we allow our audience to share it. This is tough for any musical group to pull off and even more impressive that youngsters can do it so well. I am always so humbled when these people complement us, and appreciate that we have such good support.

I always say that I am not in it for me, and I do mean that. I truly am in it to give these kids an opportunity to express themselves and to share their craft with other like minded students. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. I known am demanding and sarcastic and a pain in the butt, and not very personable, but I do attempt to put the musical product ahead all else and push everyone to master the technical so we can be musical. It is a challenge and takes some prodding. But, at the end of the day, what we end up with makes it all so worth it. So maybe it is a little bit for me as well. Just a little.

Enough generalizing. We were so lucky to have Nate Campbell come along and help out with percussion on this trip. Nate is the man. If you know someone who wants to learn percussion, Nate is your guy. He is a fantastic educator and performer. Nate is the Principal Percussionist with the Triangle Brass Band and was nice enough to come fill in on some parts for Sam and Steven. Not only did he play parts, but he clinic’d the percussion kids the entire time. He helped keep all of the percussion organized and ready to go. He even fixed the broken timpani at alter high school. Thanks a ton to Nate for helping out. It was invaluable.

TBB principal cornetist Lisa Burn sat in with TYBE to add some security and that was an great help. There were times when she couldnt even tell it was a group of students playing. What a great compliment. Thank you!!!

Hero of the day (weekend) goes to Cameron Cobb. Some last minute occurrences left a dire need for subs in the TYBE tuba section. Cam sat in and read down the programs with them in addition to playing in the quintet twice and the TYBB. That kid did a ton of playin. And did a marvelous job. If you wanna know what a beast is… there ya go.

Jesse Rackley- this guy. What an amazing talent. He is a rare breed to be able to get what he does out of a group of kids. The brass ensemble is one of the most difficult groups to work with, not because of talent, which it is full of, but because of the variety of ages and abilities in the group. It is tough to program music for and a monumental task to mold all of the varying ages into a product. I am not sure I know many people who could pull it off. When you take great kids and add Jesse into the mix, you are going to get something awesome and have a blast getting there. The TYBE performance at the festival was amazing. That’s all I can say. Jesse is an amazing conductor and educator and this would not be possible without him. Thank you.

Another post will talk about more things that happened on the tour.