It has been over four months since I posted last. Part of this is because I have been working on notating the guitar and marimba works that I previously posted about and also have been working on all of the stuff that goes into an album release. Soon, there will be a new three volume improvisation album with a post to go along with it!
I feel like have to post something about marching band season. This year, the marching band for which I teach the front ensemble, The Oak Creek Marching Knights, has won several first place awards along with caption awards in musical performance, percussion, and auxiliary. It has been a very successful year for the Knights and I am so lucky to be able to work with them!
The front ensemble and marching band have taught me that going for the extremes in music making really pays off in the performance. And anyone can do it. I spent many sessions speaking about specific stick heights and technical aspects of playing that help players get to those extremes, but in the end it was about their comfort level in moving their body.
Some folks didn’t feel that comfortable dancing and stuff…
So one rehearsal I walked up and just started a metronome. I didn’t talk or give direction, I just danced to the beat. Then I gestured for the section leader to show me the beat or dance he felt from the metronome. (anybody can hear whatever they want in their head, I just said “hear what makes you want to move”) Then it spread amongst the ensemble. We were all dancing musically, to our own grooves we were hearing in our heads; but all that was on was a simple click from a metronome. EVERYONE FELT COMFORTABLE AND THEY WERE TOTALLY ROCKING OUT! Then, we moved the rehearsal to warming up and playing music while dancing with that same energy.
The front ensemble has shown me this year that movement is so important in music making. As soon as we started adding visuals to our playing and even more choreograph when we aren’t actively playing instruments, the more interesting the performance is to the audience and the players. Now, the players may be making a gesture all together that represents what is going on in the wind parts, thus enhancing their active listening spectrum. Also, there are visuals that go along with the part they are directly playing, enhancing their musicality on that specific part!
I will remember this forever and it reminded me that all music has movement and the more we let the natural movements that we feel fit with a phrase of music find their way into our performance, the more musical that performance will be. (as long as the technical aspects of playing are addressed as well)