Friday, January 25, 2008

Old Home Week at Region

Tonight was the annual All-Region Band concert in my neck of the woods. Since I usually talk a little about this concert, I'll do so again this year:
  • This was the first time in recent memory that I had students in all five bands; it was cool to be able to stand up each time whenever directors and private teachers were recognized.

  • The concert itself was sort of a reunion for me, as I had ties to three of the conductors: One of them taught my sister in high school, a second one was one of my supervising teachers when I student taught, and yet another one also supervised me when I student taught and was one of my sister's directors in middle school.

  • I was very happy for my alto players, as I had a record number of them in the bands this year. Since I have a history--deserved or not--as a low saxophone player, it always frustrated me when my altos didn't do as well as my tenors and baris did in some years. But my altos came through with flying colors this year; in two of the bands, three of the four altos were from my studio. Way to go, folks!

  • This concert is known for running like clockwork; each band is given a 45-minute allotment, so that parents whose kids don't play till later know exactly when to show up. But we did see the one downside of this policy tonight: One of the bands only took 25 minutes of its time, so we all had to sit around for 20 more minutes, as starting early would have probably caused some of the aforementioned parents to miss a tune or two.

  • The concert was held in a coliseum-like venue rather than a traditional school auditorium. The pros of this: Plenty of seats, the ability to see everyone (even in the middle of the band, where they'd normally get covered up by the people in front of them). Also, the sound was better than I expected from this type of place. Cons: The stage was very far away from the seats; the performers and conductors generally left through the back, so it wasn't as easy to congratulate them afterwards (I only got to visit with one of the three conductors whom I knew); it was impossible to turn off the lights during a performance; the concrete floors amplified the footsteps of the late arrivals (who didn't know that it was against concert etiquette to walk in during a performance in the first place). Also, the place was built without water fountains, in an effort to force people to buy $3 bottles of water from the concession stands. Me, I went thirsty.

  • It was cool that some of these directors talked to the audience more than others had in the past (the desire to adhere to the strict schedule had sometimes limited their comments to a single set, right before the last piece). It was less cool that some of them inexplicably chose not to use the microphone when doing so. Those of us seated near the top had no clue what they were saying.

  • In the previous posts from Region concerts of the past two years, I've stated my preference for the newer, film score-ish "wind ensemble music" over the old traditional band music, and I've said that these concerts have reinforced the fact that I'm in the right place, career-wise, as a private instructor instead of a band director. Those feelings haven't changed a bit; I'm still very happy where I am, and I always enjoy the opportunity to watch some of the fruits of these labors on a big stage (literally).
Assuming tickets are still available, I'll be blogging about a very different kind of concert tomorrow night.

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