It’s snowing here. Big wet white flakes. The sun is hidden and any grass that had emerged is covered again. And they say we’ll get 3 more inches tonight. My world has threatened to turned black and white.
But thankfully I didn’t have to sit here and watch the snow pile up. No I did not. Today the community band I play with participated in a concert band festival. Twelve community bands from across the region were invited to play for judges comments and incidentally for the other musicians hanging out waiting for their own group to go on.
Each band played a program lasting approximately 45 minutes. They started at 9 in the morning and the music kept on until after 6 p.m. We were the fourth band up and played Sousa, Gershwin, Hazo and other composers. Everything went magically, as often happens on concert day. I had to concentrate on concentrating, afraid to get lost in the music for fear of forgetting to come in when I was supposed to. But it was tempting to just go with the moment. And it was so much fun.
It’s always interesting to play in a hall you’ve never been in before. The sounds are so different in every place you play and sometimes cues you’re used to hearing don’t sound the same once you’re on a new stage. On the other hand the clarinet player next to me and I both jumped at one point when the gong in the percussion section was hit. Apparently it had been in the music all along, but we’d never heard it before!
We’d been warned by our conductor that the adjudicator assigned to us was tough; a retired band teacher who still teaches private lessons. And we haven’t yet heard the comments she put on tape during the actual performance, but she walked into the room where we assembled after our concert to hear her verdict and told us that she had been enjoying the music so much she had forgotten to write any comments down! She did mention that we could do more with dynamics; many community band have issues with dynamics. Like she says, every band can play loud and fast…the good ones can play with feeling, soft, loud, fast and slow. We did quite a bit of that…but we could do more. Needless to say we were thrilled by her comments on the things we did well.
After we were finished I slipped back into the auditorium to sit with my husband and listen to two more bands. One was a band I played with more than 15 years ago. Many of the players I’d known were still there…some with gray hair or no hair…but recognizable even from the audience. I enjoyed listening to them very much, especially when the conductor who had been there so many years ago came out to conduct one of the pieces. It was as if the band perked up and played especially well for him. And I was glad I had the opportunity to see him.
And the second band was the one my Aunt plays with down near Ann Arbor. I’ve never heard them play. Often their concerts this past season were weekday nights or nights we had concerts ourselves. So it was especially fun to listen to her group perform.
I have to thank my husband for going with me. He sat through four bands..and concert band music can get a little old after several hours of it. Especially if you don’t play an instrument. But he’s a trooper and I appreciate it. I made him some cookies tonight as a thanks.
And of course Katie-girl wanted to know what she got for having to stay home alone most of the day. So I took her out to play in the snow this evening.
Somehow as she sits drooling on our feet as we enjoy the oatmeal cherry raisin cookies I don’t think that was exactly what she was hoping for.