Tuesday night was our first band practice since our Christmas concert mid-December. Though it was nice to have the time off, we were all eager to get back to playing again. We are getting ready for a community band festival held at the end of February. This of course makes us more nervous because the audience will be filled with our peers – other community bands, people that know music and will be listening with more critical ears than our family and friends. So we want to have our stuff together. We have six weeks.
On of the pieces we will be playing is “Danzon #2” by Marquez. I had never heard it before, but our director sent an email out during the break letting us know, and telling us that we should go find it online and listen. You can hear it here. It’s almost 10 minutes long but worth the listen/watch. This particular version is done by an orchestra, but we’ll be doing a version for a concert band. I followed along in my music and our version is almost exactly like this one, with a few minor orchestration differences.
Tuesday night it took us 45 minutes to get from the beginning to the end of the piece. We stopped and started a lot but some sections sounded pretty good even on the first attempt. And there was a long duet between our first chair clarinet and an oboe player who just happens to be his 10th grade daughter. They sounded so wonderful, the two of them together, that the rest of us, the entire band, forgot to keep counting and none of us came in after the 14 or so measures of their solo. The director laughed and lowered her baton, voicing what we were all thinking; what a wonderful opportunity for this father/daughter duo to play something so beautiful together. To create something breathlessly beautiful with her Dad…it will be a memory she remembers forever.
That is the beauty of playing in a group like this. There are several parent/teenager duos in the band and I think they all enjoy the experience of doing something like this together. I know we enjoy having them with us. We would not be the group we are without the support of many local musically talented kids. They fill in our gaps, cover our mistakes and generally don’t treat us like the old farts we are. Sometimes they remind us of how old we are just by their intense youthfulness. But generally it’s just fun to have them around.
So, time to get back to the daily practicing. Don’t want those young whippersnappers to outshine us more experienced players. They get to play in their high school bands every day. We have two hours a week. But then we have less homework to do at night so it all balances out.