Monday 25th November Band Fest Day 1 started with the chaos/excitement of preparing the hall in time for the 170 school students to arrive. The stage had to be cleared, blocks removed and chairs laid out. Drums and percussion had to be moved onto the stage and set up . Boxes of music stands were brought in and set up for our whole class groups, and their clarinets and trumpets had to be prepared.
By 9.15 all staff and pupils had arrived with instruments. For a lot of our students this was a new experience – playing their instrument with others in a big concert hall, counting bars rest, following a conductor, blowing for 5 hours! Some were excited, some were understandably apprehensive.
We also had some new staff this year Kirsty Broadmore (clarinet), Chris Rand (sax) and Becky Waite (trumpet) and welcomed back Mick Blake (trumpet).
We started the rehearsal with what became their favourite tune of the day – “Cossack Dance” composed by James. They loved it! I then rehearsed the “Jersey Boys Selection” which they coped with very well indeed. We started to notice how strong our trombone section was during this. Later when we rehearsed ” I Got Rhythm” the trombones came into their own, playing some fantastic glissandi – all the kids looked round to see where that sound was coming from, not quite believing their ears! Some of them were quite small ![/one_half]Other highlights:”Pirates of the Caribbean” rehearsed by Pete Shelley. Dave Longman working very hard with our percussion novices on the stage ably assisted by Harrow Young Musicians percussionists who were playing drum kit for us (thanks HYM!) ”Forget You “which raised a cheer being a relatively recent tune sung by Ceelo Green. Stuart Carruthers conducting” Tijuana Trumpets” (nice and easy once you get used to going back to the beginning!) “Pep Rally Rock” conducted by Alison Bell – an old favourite which always works well and it sounded great with our fab trombones and tuba virtuoso Dave Eaglestone who’d been brought in to play for both days.
After the pupils had left, we ran through our staff items “Splanky” and “Les Miserables” which we were to perform later – you can hear an extract if you click here!
The standard of playing was good this year. We always worry unnecessarily that this year they won’t manage the music but they always rise to the challenge and we have got used to writing and arranging at the correct level. The students learnt about how the geography of the music can vary and they soon got used to using repeats and da capos. James must be thanked for his great arrangements.
The next day it started all over again… different children, same music.
Band festival day 2 was every bit as successful as day 1 . We had slightly fewer children but the standard was just as good, if not better than day 1. Stan Lord, a retired member of staff, popped in to listen in the afternoon and heard us play one of his own arrangements which was nice. Concert 2 went well . Staff were happy but exhausted and discussions began about next year’s repertoire…
Find the Band Festival photos here…