Oliver! The musical – Band experience

Instead of having a Winter GALA this year, the drama and music department made plans for the musical production, Oliver! I was excited to know that I could be part of the pit band which is a new experience for me as I would usually perform with the Middle School Voice or Boy’s voice in the GALA’s. Hence, in order to prepare for my instrumental role, I planned for guitar lessons with my guitar teacher Mr. Marlon every Tuesday. The aim was to learn a minimum of six songs before the opening night. The songs that I planned to perform include Oom pah pah, Consider yourself, Be back soon, I shall scream, I’d do anything, Oliver!, and Who will buy part II.

The author playing the guitar – taken by Luca

In preparation for the musical, the band met every Monday after school for an hour. Once we were confident with most of the songs we started playing with the actors and actresses during break and lunchtimes. This allowed both groups to make adjustments and smoothen out any problems in the process. It was challenging to play the music in time to the words spoken by the actors and actresses and so it was practiced several times. In terms of my music, I was initially planning to play Food Glorious Food however, it ended being cut from my playlist. At this moment in time, the stage was getting built in the auditorium. Compared to the original musical, the theme of our interpretation of the musical has a twist in costumes and stage designs as they are more modern and innovative. This reflected the costume of the band as we planned to wear less formal clothes such as black jeans and beanies instead of formal black pants and shoes.

Picture of the pit band performing – taken by Gecko Net

Personally, I found that the songs I played in were challenging in terms of learning new chords. In hand, it allowed me to explore the fretboard and develop my knowledge of the guitar. Overall, learning more chords will benefit me as a music student during assignments where I have to compose. In the process of my preparation, I learned a lot of short cuts when learning chords. I learned that the same chord can be played in various areas on the fretboard depending on the tessitura that suits best to the lyrics and tone of the piece. Also, when learning major and minor chords I learned that for example if you want to play an F major chord, you can remove the middle finger to make the chord F minor. This goes for all the chords that have the same contour as the F major chord. In addition, songs like Be back soon, I shall scream, and Oom pah pah all allowed me to practice my picking technique.

Around two weeks before opening night, a stage for the band was made and so, much practice was held there in preparation for the opening night. Both musicians and actors/actresses worked hard going through scenes multiple times. Time outside class was also required during the last two days before opening night in order to go through all the scenes and finalize any confusion. All and all, preparing for this musical production was a great experience and I learned a lot regarding the amount of effort needed to make a musical flow and work out despite the challenges. I thank all the teachers that put an incredible effort in preparing the actors, actress, and musicians for their roles in the musical production.

The author playing the guitar during a break – taken by Luca

Being part of Oliver! the music was incredible. I learned a lot in terms of my musical instrument (the guitar), the process of preparing for a musical, working with actresses/actors/directors through a long period of time, and just making new friends along the way was great. In terms of the actual 3-day performances we did (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) it seemed to get better each day. I would be honest to say that on the first day there were nerves in the atmosphere. It was the first time for me and many musicians performing for a musical in a pit band so it was inevitable. However, slowly but gradually as a band we progressed with each song. It was a great relief to have completed the first performance in addition, to the countless remarks and comments from the audience of the great acting and live music produced. From the first to the second and third day I felt that musically and acting-wise it always got better. There was no dip in quality and attention to detail. On the third day, it was special as it was a Gala dinner. Tables and chairs were set around the stage and band area to form a really entertaining and visually captivating space to enjoy great food and drinks while watching. All in all, it was a great decision to be part of this musical for the countless great memories made and would love to be part of a musical again someday soon.

Group picture of the DP2 students involved in the musical – taken by Gecko Net

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