Final Guitar Ensemble Performance – Spreading the Christmas Cheer *virtually*
Although this year’s guitar ensemble sessions were far beyond unconventional, we certainly found a way to make things work. Towards the beginning of the semester we practiced for the Pink Panther theme song which we all learned but ultimately never pieced together for unknown reasons. However, in realizing we were indeed called the guitar ‘ensemble’, we agreed it felt necessary to at least execute one well rehearsed piece together.
Now, on a normal school year, we would have all been recruited my Miss. Duncan (the music teacher) to participate in the annual Winter Gala – one of the ensemble’s well anticipated performances, but naturally, corona deterred and we were forced to settle for a more unique performance. Instead; we decided to spread the Christmas spirit virtually! We felt this was fitting, especially since it was much needed this year, with a lot of us being isolated from loved ones and without being able to celebrate extravagantly like a lot of families usually do. (LO2 , 4 & 7)
So with a little coordination from Mr. Marlon, we spent roughly 2 (or in my case 1 and 1/2) Wednesday sessions rehearsing to play the classic “Winter Wonderland” by Bing Crosby. The first lesson was spent familiarizing ourselves with the chords and notation with the group members being assigned their parts, while, I, on the other hand had to miss the crucial second session where they played the chords together for another meeting!!
Regardless; I was eager to not let the rest of my peers down and immediately contacted Mr. Marlon who kindly initiated a make up zoom call lesson for me sometime around 10:30 pm (I may have panicked because I thought the video would be displayed at the end of year assembly the very next day) and we were on our way. I struggled minorly with the time keeping especially because in a usual ensemble setting you could hear the tempo of the other guitars playing and timing it accordingly but I had to do it by counting. (LO5) The last thing I wanted was to be too fast or too slow because I was playing the most recognizable chords to the song. After working our way through multiple unfamiliar chords and after learning how to track the tempo mentally, I finally called it a day at 11:30 pm, after completing multiple retakes of Winter Wonderland (so many that I was unwilling to listen to Bing Crosby for the rest of the Christmas season :)) and finally gave my guitar strings a much needed break. (LO 4)
Despite the rush to finish, I guess Mr. Marlon didn’t intend for us to show our pre-recorded video the next day because I received the video only two days ago (which might I add is a partial relief because we weren’t necessarily looking the most spirited in our pajamas and flimsy excuses for Christmassy outfits). It turns out our video was sent to the entire OSC staff instead on the 25th to celebrate Christmas and the work they have done for us in the last term! It was a rather thoughtful gesture and I hope we brightened up their day even by a little bit! :))
I felt proud of the group overall and especially of Mr. Marlon’s editing skills since it came out extremely well timed taking into consideration each of us had a different set of notation to play and recorded it separately without being in the same room as the other! It was quite a feat and thankfully resembled a piece that we would have performed in person. I feel like as a group this year, we overcame a lot, naturally in the same time frame face to face, we would have completed around 2 more pieces, but rehearsal time became limited this year. In addition to that we had less group members at the meetings so the compositions had to be altered and we practiced in rather strange formations from going solo to two person break out rooms to finally playing together. Overall, despite our many shortcomings resources wise this year, we jumped a lot of hurdles (musical and technical); a Christmas miracle if you will…
^ The link to our video!