Um, yeah. So it's been two weeks since I posted. How does that happen?

The history-thing went pretty well. PH and I played a couple of residents of the area, chatting about things going on at the Grange. Got laughs in the appropriate places, got positive comments on the costume. I never did hem the blouse, so I need to do that, and move the ends of the drawstring. In related news, I now have a straw boater hat and a brown "leather" framed satchel.

FCB is going well -- first gig was yesterday, at Franklin Cider Mill. Really nice weather for it, if a bit bright (lots of side glare). I am not sure if today's headache is glare, sleep, or hydration related. J came to the concert -- the first time he's done that. Tonight we start working on more repertoire for the Halloween concert, some of which will be played on Oct 9 at the MSU Tollgate facility in Novi.

Last Wednesday was the Chelsea Marching Band Exhibition (or Expedition, or Expo, depending on who you're talking to). It was not so nice -- warm and sticky and still. Had a couple of band kids drop (a first!), but no one on the field; neither was in perfect health at the beginning of the day -- one was coming off a cold, another had injured an arm the day before and a full performance on trumpet totally wiped her out.
(this may be the last one.) Last school year, the Chelsea Symphony Orchestra (the upper level strings + winds) had a camera crew following them around. It was for an episode of a WKAR show called Forte. The episode will be broadcast later today, but the streaming link opened earlier today. (DaBoy is the tuba player.)

Chelsea Symphony Orchestra for the show, and extras for a bit more from their studio performance.

(WKAR is the PBS affiliate out of East Lansing/MSU.)
The 8th annual Marching Band exhibition was last night at the high school. This is the first year that I haven't had a kid on the field at some point -- the first show was SR's senior year, and then DB hit middle school, and the MS band plays the anthem at the very beginning. Only 12 bands this year, one brand new. One band only did one piece -- their director came in as a new hire halfway through their scheduled band camp, and they're scrambling to catch up -- but did it quite well. Other bands who are usually very good weren't up to their usual standards, and a couple of the often less confident/less accomplished bands were very good, so it was a good evening all around. There were a couple of outstanding twirlers, and the girls from the Saline studio were all uniformly good (and it was easy to tell that they all work out of the same studio). There was one twirler who seems to work with a collegiate twirler, either from MSU or UMich, as she was *very* good in a collegiate style. Chelsea's twirler is a national champion, so she was very good, but not in the same style.

I was in my usual spot, down at the field gate past the bleachers on the far side of the field. One band director said 'we have to stop meeting like this'. DB showed up after the show had started (he had class in Ypsi until 5), and he wound up working the upper field access gate -- someone left early, and he was there and recognised by the field security head, so....

Three bands did Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk. One of them had a serious case of 'white band can't funk', especially in the guard which was supposed to be dancing. I could tell that they were supposed to be funky, but.... not so much. Another band did The Time Warp, and *nobody* danced, even though the guard was basically standing still and waving their flags around. Why couldn't they have danced? (maybe the 'pelvic thrust' thingy, but if that was the case, they shouldn't have made a point of telling us that The Time Warp is one of those dance songs that tells you how to do the dance?)

I was not impressed with the program this year. There were a lot of things wrong with it. Many of them were the kind of thing that just make something look 'not right', but they're also easy to fix. If you think about it, which apparently the people doing the layout this time around didn't. Silly things, like columns centered on a page, or evenly spaced on a page; or putting a subheader on a column text that wraps to the next column (or avoiding a column wrap entirely by putting in a break); or being consistent with the arrangement of splash page-title-bio-program for each band.

woo and hoo

May. 25th, 2015 12:33 pm
jennlk: (Chelsea Band Hat)
I am now done being a band mom. DB's last performance was today, and he (currently) has no intentions of playing in college. It was also probably the last Chelsea Memorial Day parade I will go to, as I suspect I'll be joining the adhoc community band at the Franklin Cemetary in the future.

The band was much more together than it was last year, which is good. It helps that the drum major at the upper winds end of the band is competent. She did have a problem in the second piece, but that was because they weren't following, not because she couldn't lead.

The weather was good -- not too hot, not too cold, not too sunny, not raining -- can't really ask for more. The speaker was decent, and there was an incidental flyover -- a single bomber on its way to a proper flyover emerged from the clouds just as the band was finishing.

Natterish

May. 22nd, 2015 08:00 am
jennlk: (clefnotes)
DB's last high school band concert was Wednesday night. He played in both the full orchestra and in the wind symphony. The orchestra was working without their main director, who had been in SD for a funeral until Wednesday am; and the principal horn player, who wasn't able to play due to illness. So the middle school band director (who is a very good horn player) sat in and sight read the first horn parts. DB said that the winds had only rehearsed William Tell three or four times before the performance, but it really didn't sound too bad -- the trumpets got out of sync on the fanfare/hunting calls, but it wasn't horrible, and they got it together by the time they really needed to be. The Wind Symphony played a couple of pieces that I have, and I laughed a bit at one place -- the FCB had always mangled a transition, and the WS did the same thing we always did. SR says that there's a note in the music that says "mess up here". :) (It's a transitionless transition -- end a measure at one tempo and style, start the next measure in a different tempo and style.)

SR saw a female oriole in the backyard the other day, so I had her mix up some oriole food and put out the oriole feeder.

The gardens are getting overrun with weeds, but I had a funeral meal to host on Wednesday, and those put me out for a couple of days, between onsite and recovery. Maybe today, but DB has Senior Theater stuff this afternoon, and we need to go pick up a couple of people for that. (It's Moving Up Day (aka Practice-for-Next-Year), when seniors are told 'don't come in', because there isn't room for them.)
So there's a masquerade dance in the spring show (Much Ado About Nothing), and the director wants "animal costumes". DB decided he wanted to be a crow. You'd think there'd be black things that would work somewhere in the three theater's worth of costume rooms in town. You'd be wrong. And there's certainly *not* a good bird mask (or even a bad one we could paint). The intarwebz and my workroom to the rescue -- the mask came from a MardiGras store in Louisiana; and I dug around in the pattern stash and found a coat pattern that's almost exactly what he'd envisioned. We're leaving off the capelet, and using this one instead. And a hood from here. Everything's cut out, now I just have to put it together. Just, she says.

And the gardens need a lot of attention, and I just can't do it all. So the weeds get a reprieve. Next week! Except that next week is show week, with rehearsals running late and thus 'feed the cast'; and I'm scheduled to work the election on Tuesday. Come to think of it, I've not gotten my absentee ballot -- I know I turned the application in. I should contact them.

Last night was the showcase Concerto Concert, featuring members of the senior class. DB did not put together a tuba concerto, but he did play in the accompanying symphony (which puts him one up on SR, who never did. Then again, not a lot of demand for saxophone in the orchestral tradition>). There's almost always a couple of kids who are tops in the state on their instruments, and it's always a pleasure to hear them.

The Anna-cat seems to have settled in elsewhere (earlier she was "helping" me with newsletter layout), so maybe I can go sew now.

That was cool

Apr. 24th, 2015 10:18 am
jennlk: (Notes)
Wednesday night, J and SR and I went down to Saline HS for a "collaboration concert" with the top bands from the Chelsea, Saline, and Dexter high schools. Saline has a really nice performance space -- it's much narrower and deeper than Chelsea's, with two balconies that wrap almost all the way around the house. It has very different acoustics, as one would expect. I haven't asked DB if it sounded different onstage -- I really should.

The ensembles were, as you might expect, quite good. It was very apparent that Chelsea is a smaller school than the other two (CHS is <900, DHS ~1200, SHS ~1800), as they were the weakest group on the program. They were by no means bad, it's just that Saline and Dexter are outstanding. Maestro Crutcher was the guest conductor, and directed each of the bands in a piece (he did Metroplex, Irish Tune from County Derry/Shepherd's Hey, and October). I was really impressed with the choice of Shepherd's Hey, as there's a lot of tempo changes, and doing it with a guest conductor is even trickier. (SR was a bit annoyed with Shepherd's Hey -- when she played it in HS, C wouldn't let her play the bassoon cues (she really wanted to), but this time around the tenor sax did. I don't think the current tenor player is that much better than SR was, but the bassoon section is much weaker now.)

In other news, I finally had to water the pond, although this time due to evaporation, not spillage. It's starting to look like spring out there -- the hyacinths and "wild" tulips are blooming, as is the blue-eyed grass and the starflower; and there's big tulip buds in a few places. It got cold again, though, so I've not been doing any garden work -- doing yard work in this cold weather is hard on all my creaky joints.

Natter

Mar. 15th, 2015 09:15 am
jennlk: (red winged blackbird)
DB's Collage Concert was yesterday. They went to two performances this year, after the auditorium was SRO last year. So the kids played to two 60% full auditoriums. i went to both, just because. (well, and I'd have to go in and get DB after whichever show I didn't go to anyway.) In general, the vocal pieces were better in the first show, and the instrumentals were better the second time around. Both shows were very good, and really showed off the variety of musical experiences available. The acappella group was differently "off" the second performance -- at the first show, the kids had 'white man's disease' trouble and the altos were not completely warmed up and were straining for the low notes, at the second show the sopranos kept sliding out of tune with each other, and there was a lot of sliding and scooping into notes. The finale was much better at the second performance -- all the WS tubas were there, and some of the choir kids took their music to the juliets so they could sing the actual words, not just ooooh and aaaah the notes.

In the last few days, I've seen a redwinged blackbird, a couple of starlings, and a grackle. The goldfinches are getting slightly more yellow. The snow is mostly gone from the yard except where it drifted deep or was piled when we shoveled the driveway. DB has been coming in the front door since the snow melted off the sidewalk on Thursday. And there are crocuses budding in the garden by the side door, where they get lots of sun and the warm from the house and are protected from the wind. They'll probably bloom today, once the sun gets around to that side of the house. I think spring may be on the way! whee!
FCB stage rehearsal Friday evening, concert Sunday. The concert went pretty well, I thought. It was quick -- I think we would have been out of there in just over an hour if we hadn't had to do a complete stage reset at intermission. It was a collage concert, so the first half was small ensembles, and then the full band came on and did a mini-concert (fanfare, tricky piece, march, orchestral transcription). Then there was a whole band picture after, and then we struck the stage *and* organised the music folders. So I still didn't get home until 17:30. Tonight we get new music. For a concert in four rehearsals (no rehearsal on Easter Monday, because no rehearsal space).

DB's collage concert is this Saturday. The pictures J took at last year's concert are being used in the PR for this one (with permission, and credit in cases where the publication gives it). Mum was planning on coming to this one, but instead is in FL, dealing with AJ's estate. DB did get Benedick for Much Ado About Nothing-- while he menaces well, KA didn't have a lot of realistic choices for the lead. And there are other ways to do menacing than looming over people.

In yard/garden news, the snow is melting, and exposing a lot of birdseed hulls. A couple of days ago, there were fresh bloodstains on the snow. I don't know if a squirrel squabble got vicious or if it was a hawk strike -- there were no feathers, but the blood was still bright red.
The FCB gigs were well received. I got horribly lost in the fourth movement of the Persichetti, and completely whiffed on a couple of phrases. Some of it, I'm sure, is that Persichetti doesn't always treat barisaxes like reeded tubas, or low french horns, and gives us woodwind parts sometimes. In theory, this is good, but in practice (especially for a band like the FCB) it makes my life a lot harder. The parts are difficult to play anyway, and when you're separated by the trumpet line from anyone else who has that part.... (and the brass sectionals that I attended didn't cover those parts, although they covered other tricky parts in the Persichetti that I did have. I suppose I could attend both woodwind and brass sectionals, depending on which piece of music they're working on, but that way lies madness. And missing work on things that I do need to work on -- like the Bach.)

The "Lifetime of Music" outreach we did yesterday was fun -- the bands we played with were both very good. North Farmington has a small auditorium & stage, and a rather large music program (the 8th grade band had about 70 kids in it, the Wind Symphony about 50), and it seems that that they have to mix and match groups so that there's enough room in the auditorium for the audience. We wound up putting the upper winds down on the floor in front of the stage, and nearly everyone else (bar tubas and bassoons and bass clarinets) standing for the mass band (I didn't get a count, but probably close to 200 people). Their barisax players had never seen a barisax without a low A key set on the bell -or- with the side F-sharp that Esme has. I don't think I've ever performed Sleigh Ride that slowly, which may not have been entirely a bad thing -- due to miscommunications, there was no rehearsal on Monday, so the FCB was sight-reading in a different key than we usually play.

DB's concert went well. He played in two groups, playing about thirty notes in the Symphony Orchestra and a lot more than that in the Wind Symphony. The (much larger) stage at CHS was crammed full with close to 300 strings and winds for the Borchestrand performance of Sleigh Ride. After a decade of trial and error, the tubas have figured out how to make themselves heard, and the three WS tubas headed toward the back corner of the bandshell, where they stood on chairs to play. Yeah, they made themselves heard.... I made it to the last half of the middle school concert (DB was in the booth, I had a OneAct parent meeting across the hall), and the 8th grade band is good.

The pond is frozen over quite solidly, even with the occasional forays above freezing, and I don't expect it to melt anytime soon. The sun and breeze yesterday sped up evaporation from the birdbath, and even though I filled it yesterday it was dried up today. I filled it, and shortly after I went in there were birds at it, so I guess they were waiting! Ji brought me a actual mouse yesterday morning. Anna crept up on it, and wigged out when it twitched a bit. Then it died and I took it outside for the crows....
16 hours start to finish. We had just over 800 in-person voters come through, and the Absentee board ran another 370+ ballots, which is a reasonable turnout for a precinct of just over 2000. I was home around 10:30. (At least I don't have to take the physical stuff down to county -- the clerk and deputy who do figured they'd get home about midnight.) We'd filed our results by 8:30pm, and then there was a lot of documentation and sealing/sorting of said documentation to be done. Rumor has it that there may be more audits than usual (a lot of close races), so we were more diligent with documentation and storage than usual. I got to be competent and charming. whee. And I discovered that using a mouse really does make my hand hurt. Good thing I use a trackball at home.

DB's last Fall Echoes concert was Monday night. The HS band is loud. And, in a stunning development, they sound better when they can hear each other and it's not 33F and snowing. (I know you're as amazed by this as I am.) snerk.

Due to the above-mentioned concert, I missed FCB rehearsal. My music did not, but apparently there was much discussion about it. I expect I'll find out more next week, when I actually get to rehearsal.
FCB Halloween concert was yesterday afternoon. It went pretty well -- no major trainwrecks -- but it's a relatively easy concert. It's short (about an hour) and mostly pops stuff (movies, popular songs, etc) -- the heavier stuff is in the December and April concerts. It's still a lot of notes, though, and the setup for this one is a little bit more involved, as we decorate the stage. My hand seems to be holding up pretty well, but I'm still doing the stretches and the taping.

In a twist, I didn't do much musicking at church -- the choir director is out of town, and her deputy had just come back from 10 days in China....

There will be high school football on Friday; so I expect that I will spend my Halloween at a football game. Current weather forecasts are saying it will be chilly but dry. I can live with that. There will be stadium coats, but I think they'll be able to avoid doing halftime in them. (DB just texted that, in a *stunning* turn of events, they will be playing Thriller!. oooh. the shock!. He will ask if they're doing the dance.) DB will be working crew for the Orchestra Halloween concert tonight, and tomorrow after school is set/scenery move-in for Footloose!.

The kids and I did some raking/garden clearing on Thursday (DB was not called for show rehearsal, so I put him to work at home) and got a lot of leaves moved out of the front yard. I also trimmed back the edges of the sidewalk and cut back the lilies in the front flowerbed. I remembered to move the short orange lilies from where they've been hiding to somewhere more visible (they were planted when SR was in 3d grade, to honor a classmate). Today I need to spend some time clearing the East garden, and plant the new early spring bulbs.

There is a redbellied woodpecker who has figured out that the tube feeder is a weird tree, but hey, it's got good stuff in it. Over the weekend, it brought another, so now we have two pairs of woodpeckers at the birdfeeders.

(no subject)

Oct. 13th, 2014 02:35 pm
jennlk: (Chelsea Band Hat)
HS football is again wreaking havoc upon schedules -- it's beginning to look as though my Halloween will be spent at the football field, as the football team is quite likely to make the playoffs (and very likely at home for the first round). I'd worry about WindyCon, but we're already not going. If there is a football game that Friday, DB won't be at it. Nor will the trombone soloist, a couple of clarinet players, two trumpets, three flutes, a sax, three members of the color guard, and whoever is in the pit orchestra for the fall musical.

Lovely warmish rainy day today. I do have the back door open, and there is a cat sulking at it "turn the water from the sky off, hoomin." He 'hunted' an IKEA mouse Saturday night, so I guess it's getting to be winter. Annabelle had an 'adventure' Saturday evening -- I had come upstairs to ask the kids something, and glanced over at the front door and realised that she was on the outside of the front door. So she got to figure out glass-door-that-doesn't-slide, and we tried to figure out when she'd gotten out. We think she snuck out when J came in, as she often lurks by the side door waiting for her chance, and he doesn't always look for her.

Weeded the strawberry patch on Saturday, and cut back the bleeding hearts. I also managed to pitch my preferred garden shears into the weedpile through the simple expedient of forgetting that they were on the tool rack until after I dumped the cart, so I'll need to go digging through that tomorrow, after the rain stops. whee.
There was a complete football game on Friday. Both the football team and the band were sloppy. Next home game is Homecoming, which is a mess in a lot of other ways. OTOH, Marching Band Festival is *before* Homecoming this year, so they will not be doing a revised show the day before competing the full show.

September FCB is not a really good time for a slow reentry into playing -- there's a 90 minute concert on Sept 28, so we get a lot of music, much of it new, very quickly. My hand seems to be holding up OK. My left shoulder is letting me know that I need to move it around during rehearsals -- it's been cranky during rehearsals, but once I start moving after it's fine. I finally got three hours in the sewing room, and built a new bag for my instrument stand*. I should probably build a new music bag as well, but the one I have works pretty well -- I could wish for a different arrangement of pockets, and a leash for keys, but there are other things I need more. Like a Halloween costume.

We watched a juvenile hawk (he still had leg feathers, so juvenile which makes him hard to ID, but we think he's another Cooper's Hawk) dismember a dove Saturday evening. After he flew off, SR & DB went out to survey the debris field. DB found a stick to poke it with. J found this quite amusing -- maybe because they were acting 10 years younger than they actually are?

I will get into the garden today -- it's warm and dry enough, and there's no lack of things to do out there. And the cat is already there, so it's not like I can do any errands.

(* but wait! didn't I already build one? Well, yes, but I'd revised from the first one, and the revised one was suboptimal in a lot of ways. So I backed off some of the revisions and made another one. So I've made three -- the first one wore out after 7 years, the second one was better than nothing but not good, and now the third one is just right.)

(no subject)

Aug. 19th, 2014 02:43 pm
jennlk: (Mink Frog)
Frog count is seven -- 6 actual sightings at/above the water surface, and one streamlined shape, all at the same time. At least two species -- one plainish green, one green with brown & yellow spots.

I really need to weed, but we've been getting rain at inconvenient times. I don't like weeding after it rains -- the ground is soft enough that it will compact when stepped on, and that's bad for the plants. I was able to get out and do the large strawberry bed -- that was a lot of work. I didn't realise it had been being ignored by everyone.

DB has band rehearsal this afternoon, and it's the warmest it's been since the first day of band camp. that will be fun (fsvo).
There are snowdrops blooming in the garden by the side door. They were not blooming yesterday noon-ish when we got home from church.

We went to a really good HS concert on Saturday night. Intended to show off the best of CHS music, it did. Band, orchestra, choir, small ensembles, a couple of soloists, etc. The grand finale was all the instrumentalists on stage and the vocalists up in the "juliet" balconies, doing an arrangement of tunes from Phantom of the Opera. Even the lighting crew got into the show, popping spotlights on and off to show whichever group was performing.

There was a female red-bellied woodpecker at the birdfeeder this morning, completely ignoring the suet feeder five feet away. I tried to get a picture, but it's hard to get a decent picture through the rosebush -- that birdfeeder is placed for optimum bird usage, not visibility from the house.

There is a black cat sprawled on his back in the sunbeam. He's very restful to look at. :)

There is open water in the pond, melted down to the bottom. Only in the shallow areas, and not under the snowdrift, but still....

And it's opening day of the 2014 baseball season. Go get 'em, Tigers!

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