Yesterday, Saturday the 26th, I finished a three day camp working on this fall's marching show music with the Canyon High School Band. We hit hard on fundamentals, and tried to work on as much music as time would allow. The different sections had various degrees of success over the course of the camp.
Our show this year consist of two movements, as it were, the first being an arrangement of the March from Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis, and the second being an arrangement of Danse Bacchanale. Both arrangements are being done by Eric Rath, a local area band director and burgeoning composer who was recently commissioned by the Midwest Clinic. Information on his composition can be found here.
Though we don't have the music for the closer yet, it ended up being totally ok. The opener was more than challenging enough for the kids, particularly the front ensemble. Though my pit has more percussionists in it this year, I have fewer "Veteran Pitlings" than I had last year, so I've had to break in quite a few new students into the overwhelming world of being in one of my ensembles. Yes, my expectations are high. But students only grow if you set the bar beyond their abilities. Otherwise, they meet the status quo and stagnate.
Anyway, philosophic bunny trails aside, the opener has a lot of chromaticism, and very, very little repeated material. It's essentially through composed. Combine this with several freshman, and three of my mallet players being wind players who've never played a mallet instrument before, and the result is a lot of brain dead, zombied-out high schoolers after a three day camp. You look into their eyes, and you know they've been truly, truly challenged. And I like that.
I mean, really, my only requirements are this:
* Excellent technique, from ALL players, even the wind players.
* As close to 100% note accuracy as we can achieve. Learn a few more notes each repetition!
* 100% Rhythm accuracy. Not close to, but perfect. There's no excuse to ever miss rhythms.
* A good sense of musical balance.
* Solid dynamics.
* Solid tempo.
* A good visual show. The pit is as much visual as it is musical. People watch you. Be entertaining.
And I lay all of this out for them, upfront, from the beginning. They seem to be rising to the challenge, and I'm confident they will grow exponentially as musicians this fall. This is the most difficult score I've had to teach (at least for the pit!), and is proving just as much a pedagogical challenge for me as it is a performing challenge for them.
The Drum Line has a good, solid foundation on the whole. Technique and cleanliness were generally better than I was expecting. I'm very positive about the battery's season, and I think it'll be much smoother sailing than the front ensemble. First Battery only rehearsal tomorrow morning, 10:00 am downbeat!
My only hesitation throughout the whole experience is the lack of communication from the WT Student Education office. (Or whatever the official name is.) I still haven't heard back 100% that I'll be student teaching at Canyon High School. This concerns me. Yes, the person in charge of the placements told me I would be at CHS. Yes, he also said that 95% of the time the Education Office goes with his recommendations. And yes, when I have (twice now.... I'm impatient) emailed the director of the education office asking if our placements are in, he simply told us he was waiting to hear from the person in charge of placements, the same one who assured me that I would be at CHS.
However, I still haven't received the 'official email' from the Ed. Office, and this worries me. What if I just spent three days teaching these kids as their Drum Caption Head only to teach at a different school this fall? Never mind that there are going to be rehearsals every Monday between now and August. It wouldn't be fair to the kids, and it certainly wouldn't be fair to me either.
This problem stems from the Ed. Department's lack of understand of the Music Education world. They don't understand that being a music educator extends through the entire summer. (Especially if you're a percussion/color guard tech!) They don't understand that most schools starting working on their fall music back in May. After all, core classes are done when school lets out, and don't start up again till August. They don't see the Color Guard Camps, the Drum Camps, the Leadership Camps, and lets not forget Band Camps!, that go on during the summer months. (I'm sure there are math camps, but there is no way they're nearly as fun.)
So, anyway. While I'm sure everything will work out in my favor, until I receive the official word, I am going to worry a bit. It's my nature. And I hope that confirmation email comes soon.