Concert Band Update 04.3.2019

The last post I made about concert band was the Winter Gala, so I figured it was time for an update.

Between Winter Gala and April Gala, there was a grand total of 9 rehearsals, due to a combination of holidays, breaks, and Ms.Duncan being out for things. Currently, we now have only 3 rehearsals remaining to prepare our music, which is quite challenging. The two pieces we’re playing are called “Soul Bossa Nova” and “The Blues Brothers Revue”.

Soul Bossa Nova is known for being the theme song for the Austin Powers series of movies, and it’s considered the easier one that we’re playing. It’s little bit of a jazzy song, but it’s got a great baseline and a nice Euphonium solo, which I’m very excited to play in concert.


Our second piece, Blues Brothers Review, is a medley of songs from both the movie and musical group, the Blues Brothers. It’s been a very challenging song, with 4 very different segments spanning a total of 153 measures. The numerous tempo and key changes kept throwing us off for the first few times we practiced it, and it was definitely a challenge for every single member of the band. For me personally, the greatest obstacle came in the form of the opening section, “I can’t turn you loose”. Naturally, the opening of a song is the most important part, and aside from the piano and electric bass, I’m the only instrument. While the piano and electric bass are great, they produce more of a quiet sound, meaning that I have to be perfect in my playing as it would be very obvious if I messed up. The melody itself is simple, but the length of time for which I have to do it without breathing is the real kicker. I have to go 8 measures playing loudly without time to sneak a breath until the other parts come in, and I can take one. While I’ve definitely improved since I’ve started playing it, I still have some difficulty. The other parts of the song are difficult, but I’ve managed to get them down through a lot of practice. While I said I was excited for Soul Bossa Nova, it’s no where near my level of anticipation for this piece, and I think it’s the perfect song to show how we’ve grown in such a brief time.

I think that the Spring Gala is going to be 100% better than the winter gala, as the music we’re playing is much more fun and interesting, both for the band and the audience. While the concert is a month away, with only 3 more rehearsals it’s practically here. If you’re available to attend, I’d strongly recommend it.


Winter Gala Concert

On December 7th, we finally had our Winter Gala concert after several months of preparation. With over 180 individual performers and 22 performances, it was the culmination of a ton of effort on everyone who was involved part’s. For the Gala, I did both backstage crew and concert band. I had been doing concert band since it started in late August, while I chose to do backstage crew after being told that they desperately needed people.

While I was semi-confident for the concert band portion that I had been working on for several months, I was quite worried about the backstage crew. It would certainly be a challenge for me, as I had never done a backstage-crew like thing before.Since we had only 2 days of dress rehearsals to actually practice what we were going to do, everyone involved was quite nervous. Nobody in our team had done backstage crew before, but we all collaborated well to learn what was needed. 

Concert band was near the opposite, with me and the other members having adequate time to prepare only one item. Despite that, I was still moderately worried. While it wasn’t my first concert, it was some members’, and sometimes the excitement can impact playing, mainly the tempo. This would have been especially problematic due to the fact that we were playing alongside a video montage that was set to the music ahead of time, meaning we had to be very precise with our timings.

The night of the Gala arrived quickly, almost too quickly it felt. Everything had been done to get ready for it, the only thing between us and our time to shine was the warm up session, also flying by it felt. The Gala started, and the concert band walked on stage and kicked it off. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the music we played, we did a great job and were perfectly in sync with the video, even more so than in the dress rehearsals. After taking our bows and walking off of stage, I proceeded to take off at full sprint to the green room. Because of my position in backstage crew, I was one of the people assigned with moving the piano right after the concert band finished, meaning I didn’t have time to change out of my concert attire. After dropping off my instrument, I ran back on stage and helped to move the piano.

After the semi-chaotic first transition, it calmed down significantly. The acts came and went one by one, and it was quite fun to help them out back stage with setup and other random things. Soon enough the concert drew to a close without event, and we went home that evening on a job pretty well done.

While it certainly wasn’t perfect, it worked well. I feel we could have played more pieces for concert band and been a little faster during transitions for the backstage crew. I fully plan on doing backstage crew again and continuing for concert band though, and now with some experience, I’m really excited for the spring Gala.


(Top: Ending Group Photo, Right: Moving the piano, Left: Concert Band playing)

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Winter Gala Preperations – Concert Band

As we are now halfway through the month of November, the tensions regarding the upcoming Winter Gala Concert for have grown exponentially. There has been a frantic rush as everyone shifts their effort levels up several notches. According to Ms.Duncan, there are over 88 performers involved with it, so a sizable portion of secondary school is caught up in the excitement.

The concert band consists of 15 people, 12 of which are students. We’ve been meeting since late August, and are only preforming one piece. Since then, we’ve worked on our collaboration, general playing skills, and musicianship. Our collaboration comes in multiple different ways, from all the different connections between people in band. From collaborating with the rest of our sections, collaborating with other sections, and collaborating with the conductor/pianist Ms.Duncan. Improving on any one of these can be difficult, as variation between people on what they play can even happen in sections of the same instrument(eg. the trumpet section). Luckily for me, I am the only one in my section, so I only have to worry about incorporating properly with other people. I need to make sure that I play loud enough in some parts of the music, but then also need to make sure that I am quite and supportive to the other instruments in other parts. Making sure that I correctly transition between the two can be sometimes difficult, pending on how sudden it happens. It’s quite difficult to go from playing piano(quietly) whole notes to fortissimo(as loud as possible), something which I have to do when I briefly take over the melody at measure 108.

I’ve been practicing every day of the week, working on how loud I can play(my parents are not fans) for my especially important part at 108, where I have to do this huge, grandiose, powerful melody… ALL BY MYSELF! This is one of the job hazards that you don’t think about when choosing an instrument, but ever since the 5th grade where I chose this instrument, the maximum amount Euphoniums that I’ve seen in a band is 2. It’s fair to say that I’m used to it by now, but that doesn’t make it any easier to play that loudly. It’s not just like the rest of the band can quiet down all that much, seeing how it’s meant to just be generally loud, and if it were quit it’d be weak and pathetic. I have made progress though, and I’ve been getting louder and louder each time we play, pushing my limits of how much noise I can squeeze out of this brass chunk.

The hardest part now is just overcoming my nervousness, whenever we play in rehearsal I always get a nervous feeling in my gut and I can’t play out to the fullest. Maybe it’s just excitement? Who knows, but the rest of the song is going great. My only complaint for the coming Gala is that I feel the concert band could be playing a little more music. No matter how long one song is, it’s still just one song.

Anyways, here’s to looking forwards to what’s coming up, I’ll put up a post afterwards with how it went in detail.

Here’s the sheet music, it my part gives a brief idea of the tone shifts throughout

Concert Band Update – 14.11.2018

December 7th, 2018. As well as the 77th anniversary for the attack on Pearl Harbor, it’s also the date of the OSC Winter Gala. The Winter Gala serves as the halfway checkpoint for our journey as a band, and it’s approaching surprisingly fast. The practices which seemingly feel like forever in them are flying by as far as the calendar goes, and we can only hope to be ready in time. As well as that, it’s somewhat more of a struggle for me to return to euphonium than I thought after a year of tuba. While the fingerings of both instruments are the same, they are very different, mainly in size. Here’s a brief comparison:

(Me playing my euphonium, a few days ago)

(me playing my double b flat tuba, about a year ago)

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In case you doubt, here’s a comparison of the mouth pieces(order is tuba, euphonium, trumpet)

The Winter Gala is on our minds, but the Concert Band has also been up to some other fun things. For starters, we learned and played the national anthem for the Founder’s Day celebration in September, and people from the Band are starting to get assigned to other acts preforming in the Gala as backup musicians. A few of the trumpets have been auctioned off already, I’m wondering if I’ll go somewhere as well. Going back to the founders day event, it went OK. The timeframe we had to work on it was limited, along with our practice together. I think that in the future for this kind of thing, we should alot more rehearsal time to it, as the problems stemmed not from people not knowing their parts, but people not sure of how to integrate their parts correctly into the rest of the band. This lead to some confusion, especially with our drummer and violins who had bad habits of getting off beat just enough to where it was noticeable. I tried my best to help the drummer, as he was the one near me, by tapping my foot exaggeratedly so that he could see and trying to play my part loudly in beat to assist, but it didn’t work to well. My parts were fine, and I was good with them, but because of the role a euphonium plays, I couldn’t do a huge amount. As a low brass instrument, the role you play is more of a supportive one, and in this song I never had the melody meaning I could never play loud enough to reach all the people who were off beat.  

Anyways, there’s a lot more to come for concert band, especially as we get closer to Gala. I’ll make sure to keep that updated for you all, as I think it’s going to be really fun, regardless how it goes.