Haven’t Played a Horn in 20 Years? It’s Like Riding a Bike!!

I haven’t touched a saxophone in 20 years….well, at least I hadn’t until the other night.  Off and on since my oldest joined band, I had thought about picking up a horn again, just to see if I could remember how.  But then, fear of making myself look foolish, trying to do something I hadn’t done in 20 years would hit and I would convince myself I was just being silly.

Having become so pro-active concerning the band this last year, and just enjoying listening to my kids play and getting excited about what they’re doing in this great program, I made the decision to jump feet first and not let my fears get in the way this time.  Yep, I got a reed from Mr. Steuart, washed Matthias’ mouthpiece out really well and grabbed one of his books.  I don’t know who was more amazed…me or Jeremiah when I started playing.  You see, even though I had convinced myself there was no way that I could remember how to read music, my brain filed it away all these years.  All I had to do was open the file and blow out the dust that had collected.  Now, by no means was I up and just playing everything under the sun.  While I remember most of the notes, and a lot of the rhythms, I am going to have to do a LOT of refreshing along the way.

One of the awesome things about this, was that it refreshed my mind so I was able to help work with a 5th grade sax player….and KNOW what I was doing.  Not just snap or clap and keep time for him.  I was able to work with him on a musical level.  Talk about a rewarding thing for me.  It felt amazing!

I guess the point that I am trying to make, is that if you were in band, it doesn’t matter how many years you are removed from the last time you picked up a horn.  Keep music a part of your life….get acquainted again.  How am I spending my 20 year reunion….hooking back up with my old pal the sax. ;) How about you?  Wanna Play?  http://www.facebook.com/wannaplaybynamm?sk=app_131177073618262

No More Boring Band Concerts

After having performed through 8 years of band myself and 7 so far with my kids, I finally got to the point of “enough is enough” concerning concert band.  Every school band concert is the same.  You sit through the younger bands sets of squeaks and squawks, looking at the watch wondering “Is it over yet?”  You endure the time it takes for the bands to transition to and from the stage and you are bored out of your mind.  It’s ok to admit, honest.  It’s boring for the students, it’s boring for the parents, so WHY does concert band have to be like this?  Well, it doesn’t!

We are in the process of re-defining what our school’s concert season is all about.  Concert season for us will NO LONGER be the same old, same old.  We are heading in a new direction.  Concert season is about to become as fun and amazing as marching season…..if not a little more so.

This year’s concert theme is “Blue Carpet Movie Event”, featuring music from some of cinema’s biggest films.  The great part, is not just the high school band gets to be featured and recognized as a star.  We are showing our community that all of the musicians of the school, all the way down to the 4th graders who play the recorder are stars.  But for all of this to make sense, I’ll have to break it down a bit more.

PROPS:  Each student 4-12 each have their own “Hollywood Star” with their name on it.  Giant box of popcorn.  Giant movie ticket.  Movie reels with film that will curl up around the main doors into the auditorium.  In the film will be pictures of the high school band members.  Posters with quotes from some of the different movies.  One of the art students made a jet for “Top Gun”, The Enterprise for “Star Trek” and is currently working on a pirate ship for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”.  For “Pirates there will also be waves that the 6th grade students will be using in front of the stage.  There will also also be a table that has “classic movie” memorabilia, including black and white photos of:  John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby.   Film biographies of:  Judy Garland, Errol Flynn and Bing Crosby.  An old school camera and copies of some classic DVD’s.  The 5th grade will have their own props including straw hats and posters for audience participation.  We’re also working on the velvet ropes block off the “blue carpet” and a marquee sign for outside.

SPECIAL EFFECTS:  “Star Trek”:  Mushroom Light and Fog Machine.  “Pirates” Ship, Waves and Fog Machine.  “Top Gun” Buzzing the Tower.  “The Pink Panther”  Watch out for the thief!!  “James Bond” The intro like you’ve never seen it before.  The “A-Team”  If you remember the intro from the TV show…it’s been re-written for the band 😉  and “Northern Exposure” in which we will create the Northern Lights.

CHARACTERS:  We will have characters representing the different movies.  Some of the band will be dressed as different characters, but if everything works out, we will have guest “celebrity” appearances as well.  I almost forgot to mention that the “Sonic Coke” will be there wandering around as well 😀

COMMERCIALS:  To make the transition between bands less boring, we are making commercials to play.  The curtain to the stage will be drawn, so the audience will not have to watch the bands trade places.  We will show them the different commercials about upcoming events, keeping music in our schools, and about our Drum Line and Color Guard.

MERCHANDISE/DONATIONS:  We will have a table set up for donations with pictures showing what the band’s “Most Wanted” (and needed) items are, and what the public’s donations will be going to.  There will also be a merchandise table set up with marching show shirts, instruction books and other items for sale.

DOOR PRIZES:  If all of this wasn’t enough, there will be 2 door prizes given away.  1 child and 1 adult prize.  You MUST be present to win a door prize.

I am so excited about this upcoming concert and I can’t wait to see the end result as well as the community’s reaction.  Shows like this take a lot of team work, coordination, rehearsal and support.  So, an early shout out thanks to:  Garrison Lumber, Sonic, Luckenbills, TCM Photography,  Stoehr Wire Rope, The Band Boosters, Directors and Assistants, but most of all the students. (If there is anyone I have forgotten, I apologize, but please know we are so very thankful for your support of the band program.)

A Whole New World

After having already tried a different blog site and have found that the majority of the users I cam in contact with had nothing but vicious, vindictive things to say about other people’s posts or would use other people’s blogs as personal battle grounds, I decided that particular site wasn’t for me.  I’m hoping that this time around I will not run into the same issues.  So, here I am, in a whole new world, keeping my fingers crossed that those who take the time to read what I write will be respectful to what I have to say, even if they don’t agree with me, just as I will be respectful of what they write.
With all of that being said, I’m hoping that the majority of my focus will be towards music and the importance of keeping music in our schools. Of course, I may drift away from this topic should different inspiration hit me, but I really will try to keep it to the point of music.
I don’t know what music is to you, but to me it is essential for life.  I can’t go a day without it.  It is nourishment to my soul.  It is the silver lining when I’m having a bad day because I can get list in a song that will inspire or lift me up to think of other things.  Music conveys happiness, passion, loneliness, love, hate……every emotion that a person can feel can be portrayed musically in some form or another.
I grew up singing, played saxophone in band and now am a band mom….hence the name “Mama Cross”.  It’s what all my band kids call me.  I have four boys of my own who are in band as well and they all play different instruments.  My oldest plays soprano, alto, and tenor sax, one of my twins plays flute and piccolo, the other plays trombone and my youngest plays trumpet.  I have my own mini band. 🙂  My passions are being poured into helping keep their band program thriving in the midst of massive budget cuts.  Into helping develop extreme, awesome marching and concert shows. (I’ll go into more detail about our upcoming concert event in a different post.)
Band and music programs are so vital and important.  Kids who are in band score higher on standardized tests, especially in math and in reading.  Band and music stir up creativity within you.  It gives you a sense of pride that you hadn’t felt before.  Dedication, Commitment, Discipline …………. these are terms that go hand in hand with band.