Recital Time! (Part 1 – Brass Bell Music Store)
Recitals are an invaluable part of music education. They involve goal setting, planning, intense practicing, anxiety, performance, and the reward of accomplishment. This month I’ve got students participating in two recitals on back-to-back weekends. Here’s their stories…
This past weekend saw the recital for my students at Brass Bell Music Store in Milwaukee. Brass Bell instructors generally host an annual recital for their students, held in the store’s Alan G. Gaulke Recital Hall. Since I only teach at Brass Bell one day a week my student recitals there are generally a little cosier and of modest duration. This year there were six participants, each presenting unique pieces.
Things started off with Andy and his school jazz combo playing ‘Cold Duck Time.’ This was to be the only ensemble performance of the day. I think it’s great when students can use a recital to demonstrate their musical skill in a group context. Along with the musical and technical skill necessary to perform, Andy also shouldered the responsibility of getting his schoolmates’ participation. That’s an organizational skill that is essential in real world band management. Andy and his group were excellent. Next in the set was Ryan, a six-year old student who is relatively new to the instrument. This was his first recital and though he was a bit nervous at first, he played a drum set interpretation of ‘Old MacDonald’ and got the audience to participate when it came to singing and making the animal noises (even non-traditional ones likes elephants and dinosaurs). It was a lot of fun! Nerves a thing of the past, he left the stage to a roar of applause and with a big smile on his face.
The third performance was Jonathon who, over the last several weeks, developed an original drum set composition. This was a great experience for him as he identified musical elements that appealed to him (certain sounds & rhythms) and went about organizing and arranging them into a logical and interesting piece that others could appreciate, too. Great stuff! Then we had Will demonstrating a blues-rock drum beat along to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s recording of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’ Building out from his strengths in concert percussion, Will has been developing his drum set skills and nourishing his recent interest in the blues. In his preparation we discussed not only drum technique but also music theory as it applies to common blues structures. It’s been really great to see him explore and succeed in new areas of percussion.
The home stretch featured two of the more ambitious drum set performances. First was Jaylen’s performance of Aaliyah’s ‘Are You That Somebody?’ While in past recitals Jaylen opted for a straight-up drum solo, this time around he went with a catchy tune with a deceptively layered drum beat. To give him some space for some soloing, though, we recut the song with Cubase editing software to create an extended breakdown (in addition to some other edits) in which he could really cut loose. A stellar performance! To close out the afternoon’s festivities we had Peter taking on the uber-challenging Dream Theater song ‘On the Backs of Angels.’ Peter’s interest in prog-rock has made for some fun and challenging studies but he’s been up to the task. I was ecstatic to find that Dream Theater makes the individual instrument tracks available to the public, which meant I was able to edit them together (Cubase again) to allow for a drum-less track for Peter to accompany. The audience had their minds blown, hanging on tight to Peter’s lead through the intricate twists and turns of the constant meter changes – awesome!
Overall, my Brass Bell students’ annual recital was a great success. Watch for next week’s blog post, which will tell the story of the Drums n’ Moore recital…