We have had an opportunity, in our recent performances, to “sell” our handbell and chorus programs. That was the whole purpose of our performance for the 5th grade students from the elementary students. Our goal was to convince them to join chorus or handbells (or both!) next year. We have publicized our upcoming spring concert to the elementary schools, as well, so hopefully we will have some of the students coming to hear our performance.
We also have to “sell” our music program to administrators and parents, and anyone who has a say in whether we continue to have music classes in our schools. Some people think that electives, and especially music and art, are “fluff.” They think these courses are there just to fill the time. You and I know how much you learn in music class, not just about music, but skills that reinforce what you learn in academic classes, such as reading and writing. And then there are all the life skills that you learn in music, especially about working with others and being part of a group.
What can we do to sell our program? First of all, we need to do the very best job we can. We don’t want to settle for a mediocre performance, but demonstrate to the best of our ability what we have achieved as musicians this year. Secondly, we need to look like we enjoy what we do. People will remember how you look and how you act as much or more than they remember how you sound. A smile goes a long way toward telling your audience, “I really like being in Chorus or Handbells. Don’t you want to do this, too?”
Anybody have any other ideas of how we can promote our Chorus and Handbells?
Fasten your seat belts! Things are going to be moving fast for the next few weeks!
We’re now less than one week until the 5th Grade Articulation performance by Concert Chorus and Advanced Bells, next Tuesday, May 3rd. This is during the school day, so you need to be sure that you check with your third and fourth period teachers that you get any assignments or work you will miss. Also, I need as many people as possible to help set up that morning.
Beginning Bells will ring for the National Junior Honor Society induction the next evening, May 4th. The program begins at 7PM. Please plan to be here by 6:30 to set up your bells, notebooks, and mallets. The ceremony should last about an hour, and we’ll put everything back in the handbell room before dismissal. Your parents are welcome to stay and listen, but if they don’t stay, please make sure that you have a ride home by 8:15.
Finally, spring concert is less than two weeks away, on May 10th, at 7PM in the cafeteria. That’s a Day 4, so advanced handbells will be able to set up in the cafeteria during last period. I’ll need as many chorus people as possible to help after school to move and set up equipment. And, of course, we have to get EVERYTHING out of the cafeteria after the concert.
Everyone is working very hard to get their music ready, and I am very proud of the effort you all are making. Sometimes, it’s easy, after MPA, to feel that you want to just coast out to the end of the year. Thanks for keeping up the effort.
Wait a minute! I thought concert season was in December! Isn’t concert season over?
Well, no. For the past month, we have concentrated on soloists and ensembles, as we prepared for their performance assessment. Now, it’s everyone’s turn. For the next two months, our focus will be on concert MPA. So that’s why Mr. Houchins, the director at Palm Beach Central High School, made the comment on Saturday that this is the beginning of concert season.
What does this mean for us? Well, we will be working very hard on the two songs each chorus will sing at MPA. There will also be a lot of time spent on sight singing. We may begin to look at some music for spring concert, but since MPA is earlier this year, we will have plenty of time after it is over to work on that music. So if we sing through spring music, it will be for a break.
Just hang in there! The time from now to MPA will fly, and we’ll have Spring Break the week before MPA. And the harder we work, the more enjoyable MPA will be.
January is always a busy month for chorus, but this one is crazy! All-State Chorus is a week later this year than it has been in the past, so when I get back, there will only be two weeks to finish our preparations for Solo and Ensemble performance assessment. And when you add in the fact that the FCAT diagnostic test is the Tuesday and Wednesday before S&E, you can see that we are really being pressed for time.
What can you do if you are a soloist or the member of an ensemble? Practice! You will have to do most of it on your own, because our time together is very, very limited. Some soloists come in every day that there is morning practice, and some of you I have only heard once, in class. I do not want this to be a bad experience for anyone, but it will not be a good one if your aren’t prepared.
What if you aren’t involved in S&E? What can you do to help? Well, you can be considerate of those who are involved when we take time to work in class. That means, be quiet! Listen to what the singers are doing. Be a good audience if they sing for you. Offer constructive criticism. Be a friend. Remember, we’re all on the same team.
Since we’ve had some difficulty keeping a steady tempo on Joy and Elation, if you click on the title, you will be able to listen to a recording. (When you get to the link, click on the yellow handbell symbol on the left to hear the recording.) In this recording, the optional flute part is included, which simply doubles the melody the bells play. I personally don’t think it adds a lot, but I’d be glad to hear your thoughts about it. Please notice how clean and together the mart lifts are.
Can we make this song sound this good at our performances?
It’s that time of year. Both handbells and chorus have performances coming up in the next month. Everyone should have received a handout with all the information, and that information is also posted on Edline.
What can you do to make this performance season a good one? First, make sure your parents know when you are performing. If there is a problem with getting to a performance, I can probably help you find a ride if I know early enough. Besides, you want to get your concerts on your parents’ calendar, so that they can be there to hear and support you.
Secondly, you can invite people to be in the audience. There’s nothing more discouraging than working really hard to prepare for a performance, only to have very few people there. Everyone is welcome to come, and we never charge admission.
Finally, do your best to stay healthy. Performing is no fun if you aren’t feeling well, and if you are really sick, I don’t want you spreading your germs to everybody else! Eat well, get plenty of sleep, wash your hands frequently, and do your best to feel your best. Then you’ll have lots of energy to perform your very best.
“Why are we doing this piece?” “Do we HAVE to sing this song?” “Ugh!”
Sometimes I wonder if you think I choose music specifically to torture you! I really don’t. There are reasons behind every piece of music we do in chorus, handbells, and even general music. I thought you might be interested in why I make the musical choices I do.
My first concern is, “what can we learn by studying this piece of music?” I take into account the class, its level of experience, and the difficulty of the music. I try to find music that will present new challenges, but not be so difficult that you will be frustrated trying to learn it. On the other hand, if the piece is too easy, you aren’t likely to learn anything.
Next, I try to look for music that contrasts with the other pieces we are learning. If everything is slow and legato, it’s going to be boring. I try to mix up styles, tempos, meters, and basically include a wide variety of music. This also helps when I’m putting together a program for a performance, because we want to perform a variety of music to keep our audience’s interest.
Finally, I ask myself if I like the music. I probably spend twice as much time with a piece as you do. I study the score, singing and playing through parts, planning how to teach it, anticipating problems, etc. If I don’t like it, we won’t do it. However, I won’t drop a song until I’ve been through it a minimum of six times.
So that’s the process of how I choose music for our classes. But I’m always open to suggestions. How would you do it, if you were in my place?
Dimensional Harmony, the show choir from Boynton Beach High School, will be performing Friday, November 12th, on the Today show in New York. The group won the show’s nation’s best show choir competition. Their director, Mr. Sterling Frederick came out to Landings to work with our chorus a few years ago, before Mr. Chase began to teach at Wellington High and started working with us.