As I type, I am listening to a CD recording made of our concert by Bryan Helsel of Helsel Music. He does excellent work, and has very quick turn-around. My concert was only last Thursday, and I received my CD today, less than a week later. He also does a very nice job printing the inserts with all of the students names and a complete track listing. Thanks Bryan!!
Anyway, just some more reflections as I am listening. I like to see if the recording really reflects what I thought about the concert. In this case, the recording does reflect accurately what I thought after the performance. The pieces that I thought sounded good do sound good, and the pieces that I thought didn’t go so hot didn’t.
While I am listening, I am reflecting on how both the middle and high school groups sounded when I first arrived here. I may even pull out the recording from my very first holiday concert, even though I know exactly what it sounds like and even shudder at the idea of hearing it! It was not good! HA! Anyway, it is a good feeling to know that this program has progressed so far, and that maybe I actually am teaching these students something!
I really challenged these students this semester with the difficulty of music that they were playing, and I am very proud of their performance. They gain more confidence with each performance, and they become better musicians with each performance. Some particular points: 1. Intonation within the group is getting better. Still a few “nasty” spots, but overall really MUCH better (darn those high clarinet parts!) 2. Balance and blend is MUCH better as well. We always talk about “playing inside the bubble” of the group’s sound. For the most part, the group does a pretty good job of this (darn those high clarinet parts!) 3. Dynamics are getting better as well. The students are finally starting to figure out that dynamics are what make a piece more interesting than just playing notes. 4. The kids are finally starting to play with some emotion! This is very exciting! They are finally starting to figure out that playing with emotion makes a piece more interesting than just playing notes!
Overall, I think it has been one of the best Middle-High School band concerts yet! There are clear signs to me that the students are improving musically, and this is very re-assuring!