Monday, February 25, 2013

First Show!!!

Show Weekend
The air was electric on Saturday morning as we prepared for the long anticipated first show in Dartmouth, MA. We had an excellent although brief rehearsal to brush up on tempos and ensemble unity through large chunks of the show.  Our loading process was a little rusty, having had the luxury of not loading or unloading all of tech week. Nevertheless, we got onto the road to Dartmouth soon enough. The buzz, confusion, energy, and excitement when we arrived at Dartmouth was only compounded by a steady freezing rain. We did our best to maintain a professional posture amid the melee. The battery warmed up in a tight little classroom, the front ensemble was moved around the school from one hallway to another and once settled, we all got together to run some larger chunks of the show. The confined space caused our sound to be total cacophony. The show was excellent, and we received a score of 85.1, coming in first place in our division, and more importantly our best first show score of all time.
Back at the school were we have stayed all week, we unpacked, dried off our equipment, had some pizza, and went to bed.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Perpetual Cycles

Today was our last full rehearsal day of tech week before our first show! We worked out the logistics of getting on and off of the floor with our plethora of instruments, props, and a set background. We closed off the day in ensemble with a full costume run getting on and off the floor in record time.

An overview of our show:

It is called Perpetual Cycles, and it is all about the importance of the balance of life and the necessity death in order to have new life. We include Brazilian drums including surdos, tamborims, repiniques, agogos, rocar shakers, samba whistles, and our traditional marching percussion instruments. One of the coolest parts of the show is that the ending is also the beginning!
We can’t wait to get outside tomorrow, smell some fresh air, and do a great show!


We have officially hit the one week mark at North Bridge Middle School as day 7 has come to a conclusion. The day started out hard, not only were we tired but we also knew we would get even more tired as the day went on. After stretches, we ran 20 laps around the floor to wake our tired bodies. Which seemed to help since the blood started pumping again.
Rehearsal started with a good 'break down' (set to set) of our second half of the third book. Which was based off of Joseph Curiale's "Adelina De Maya". It has the same music as the first book - It is a fast paced part of the show that shows the difference between the old life and the new one. 
After lunch we finished our ensemble battery rehearsal - then broke into sectionals for some 'cleaning' - and finally put it together with the pit.
After a fantastic Brazilian dinner we made some final changes and did our last full runs.
After the last run (which was awesome!) we had make your own sundaes (with all the toppings) sponsored by all our parents! The sundaes really lifted our spirits for the Last day before our performance.

The show is almost ready to put into competition, all that's left is some transitional moments that are a little awkward. We are looking forward to kicking some serious butt on Saturday - our first show.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 6 - Just Keep Going!

Today was one of those days where the most important thing is to just keep going, and trust that the work will take you where you need to go. I won’t lie to you, as the day began, we all felt sure that we didn’t have the energy it was going to take to get through another 16 hour day of running around the floor and fine tuning the show. But, I think we’ve all begun to realize that once the choice to dig-in is made, the energy and the drive always follows. I know I felt that way.
Today was slated to be a day to "deep clean" the first half of the third and final section of our show; the part where we realize the ‘life’ on the other side of death leads to a newer and more exciting life. And how necessary that death is to bring that newlife.
The music for this first portion comes from Third Wind by Pat Matheny- a driving ostinato in the keyboards is laid on top of a fun and rock-like rhythm in the string bass and synth. The tenor and marching timbales are a really unique sound to the activity - then add fun interchanges in types of Brazilian percussion and you've got yourself a bucket-load of fun.
At first it was a lot of just repping to get into the tempo and groove of the piece, but as we began to find it, it really began to breathe and have some life and character. As a member of the snare line, the entire show began to fall into place.
Dartmouth is just two days away!!

Day 5 - Book 1

Today in Whitinsville, we focused on Book 1.
There are three main parts to this chart:
a) The first section is a segment of Joseph Curiale's Adelina de Maya.
b) The middle part is a batucada (a Brazilian samba) wher we use traditional Brazilian instruments and gather on the floor for a groove party.
c) The last part is a continuation of the beginning and a transitioning into Book 2.
Book 1 improved a lot over the day thanks to various sub-sectionals and great instructors.
Tomorrow we're moving to Book 3
We've hit the half way point.

Day 4 - Batacuda!!

Today was Book Two - Battucada day!!! 
For the battucada section, everyone plays ethnic instruments from Tamborims, Surdos, Repiniques..... It's very cool to be expanding our overall knowledge of percussion and exploring different instruments and techniques. We worked on defining every move and motion of our choreography.Combining those moves with tight ensemble playing makes the show a lot more powerful!
We also practiced playing with capes covering our faces! Wow - that was a challenge!! Not so much the challenge of not being able to see the keys - but missing the body language of those around me is what threw me the most.  I had no idea my connection to my fellow players was so critical.  (I guess it really isn't all about me!?) 
Overall, it was a great, hard working day!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 3 - Uniform excitement

Today, we all wore our uniforms on the floor for the first time! They pose a few logistical challenges—such as two entire layers of pants, shirts, and a cloak that have to be removed in perfect time. However, they look very Brazilian, in brilliantly colorful contrast to the darker floor.

Day 2 - Hello Whitinsville

After a crazy late night of unloading food, instruments and bedding though a huge school, we manage to have an awesome rehearsal day. We honed-in on the third portion of our show. “Every detail counts,” yells our instructor from the stands. As more of our members arrived, we worked more on the Brazilian samba part of our show. We look forward to having the whole group here tomorrow. We are gaining a lot more confidence in our show, and we're looking forward to our first performance.

Day 1 - Let the Games Begin!

Day 1 - Let the Games Begin!
School vacation is upon us which gives us the opportunity to devote some single-focus time polishing the show for our first competition of the 2013 season. So for the next 8 days Northbridge Middle School will be our home away from home as we prep, polish, hone, tweak and perfect our new show. We’ll keep you updated everyday with blogs and pictures. Can’t wait to finally put it on the floor - let the games begin!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In the Chute!

Our first show weekend (Feb. 23-24) is fast approaching and although there is still much work to be done, rehearsals have been going really well. 
Our first "tech week" of the season starts this Friday Feb. 15 and runs until our first show in Dartmouth on Feb. 23.  This is an intensive week of daily rehearsals where we prepare the group to perform! We have done our first full run-through of the show and we are now in the process of detailing the show, implementing changes, getting the costumes and props worked in and slowly taking the metronome away.  Many of these things will happen during tech week.  It's always an exciting week for us where we get to see the show really come to life, not only as the costumes and props get worked in, but also as the confidence and comfort level of the group goes up several notches. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow Day

Winter Storm Nemo single-handedly shut down our Winter percussion rehearsal schedule this last weekend. On Saturday we were gearing up for a 15hr day.  One of those often dreaded, but very much needed days in which we can clean-up and solidify so many aspects of the show before we put it on the floor for the first time.  When word came out that we would have to cancel our rehearsal - I fully expected cheers from the kids. Much to the contrary - they were visibly disappointed. They are so invested in this show - that the thought of leaving it for even a weekend was upsetting. That was inspiring to me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Evelyn Glennie

Many years ago I had the privilege of attending a master class with the amazing percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Her journey (deaf since the age of 12) is amazing in and of itself. Being in the same room, her charisma is palpable. She is a delight to watch and listen to.  However, the piece that has stuck with me over the years is this. She asked the class "What is the most important piece of information on a piece of music?"  Eager hands shot into the air "Tempo!.... Key Signature!... Dynamics!!...."
Her answer - "The Title".
She felt that the name a composer chooses colors and informs us on so many levels. It provides a lens through which to interpret the road map he has provided in the score.
It's such a great concept - that can bring a fresh sound.