March 31, 2020 - Band Updates, Online Course Info, and More!

Dear band students and families,

What a month this has been.  I admit that I still get a little sad thinking about the major events that have been canceled over the last three weeks.  An enormous amount of teacher, student, and parent effort will not bear the fruit that we had all hoped to see.

Then I remember that the entire world - quite literally - is in the same situation.  Our experiences today are unprecedented in living memory, and I find the gravity of that knowledge oddly comforting.  As we look ahead to the remainder of the school year and beyond, I hope that all of us are able to find enjoyment in our new day-to-day and to make the best of these strange and challenging times.


With all that said, here are some important updates. This is a lot, so please digest slowly.

-- This Week --

1.  Buzz Enrollment Codes -   Chamber Winds Block 1 -- MCP1041171  Wind Ensemble Block 3 -- MCP 1041172  Concert Band Block 6 --  MCP1041175  Cardinal Band Block 7 -- MCP1041168

2. Assignment for This Week -   Simply log into Buzz and fill out the survey (1 question) that you will find on the course page.  This allows us to know who can successfully access the course content.

-- Loose Ends --

3.  Chamber Winds Auditions -   If you are interested in auditioning for chamber winds next year, we will have auditions via video submission.  Submit a  video recording of yourself playing the audition etude(s) - either clearly labeled in your Google folder or simply by email to all three directors.   Forgot your music?

4.  Pep Band Makeups -  We are currently planning to do pep band makeups in person when we return to school.  In the event that we do not return to school for the year, there will be a remote alternative available.

5.  Concert Listening -  Students who have not completed the 2nd-semester concert listening should attend a classical or jazz concert remotely (30 minutes minimum) and write their paragraph.  One side effect of the COVID19 cancellations is that there are tons of amazing streams online now!  Some suggestions:  The Berliner Philharmoniker's Digital Concert Hall

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

We highly recommend listening with the best audio device you own and not multitasking during the concert.  Send your paragraph to Mr. Rothacker via email and include a link to the concert stream you watched.

6.  Full Orchestra Assignment (Block 1 Only) -  If you participated in the recent full orchestra performances OR have already completed the other assignment, you will be exempted from the first two weeks of online assignments (4/6, 4/13).  Otherwise, don't worry about the full orchestra thing and simply do the assignments as we send them.

7.  Virtual State Solo & Ensemble -  If you qualified for state solo & ensemble this year, WSMA is offering an online option.  All registrations and submissions are done individually, so any interested students are encouraged to check it out!

-- Looking Forward: Online Band --

There is a reality that what we do in an ensemble performance class cannot be meaningfully replicated over the internet.  For the most part, we will catch up on missed content next year.  If you are overwhelmed and stressed out by online school, we want to make online band as painless as possible.  On the other hand, if you have more free time than usual, we encourage you to practice and improve as a musician.

8.  Online Curriculum Overview -  Starting next week, you can expect the following short assignments each week.  More info to come.         a) Listening - Listen to assigned music and discuss       b) Practicing - record a short piece of music that Mr. V teaches via video.       c) Challenges - optional challenge assignments to help get you motivated.  We're hoping to do some fun things like a collaborative video, technical study competition, etc.

     d) If we missed you on the first round of instrument drop-offs, we'll be in touch soon.  I just need to find out the next time we can get into the school building!

9. Office Hours -  Someone will be available on Zoom each week during the following times to answer questions or just hang.  Feel free to drop in!  You can always email as well; we'll be checking regularly as school resumes.

Please check your email for the Zoom links. We will not be posting Zoom links on the website.

MWF: 10:00am-11:00am TR: 5:00pm-6:00pm 

10.  SmartMusic -  There is a  great opportunity available right now on SmartMusic.  It's an online music library and practice tool that lets you play along with literally thousands of pieces of music.  You can read solos with their accompaniment, play your part of band pieces while listening to all the other parts, and access method books.  The newest version is fully web-based, so it works on Chromebooks.

It's free - just  click here and use our MHS class code (ZCCXW-6A3RE).  We strongly encourage everyone to try it out; we will even have opportunities to submit some assignments this way.

11. Marching Band -  Just a quick note that we are still planning to have marching band next fall!  The whole process is just a bit delayed because of construction and of course the coronavirus.  Stay tuned for info about the show, registration, leadership auditions, etc.  For those planning your calendars, band camp is currently scheduled for 8/17-8/28, and the state championships are 10/17 in the evening.

-- News --

12. WSMA State Honors -  Congratulations to those students accepted to the WSMA State Honors Project!  The list was released yesterday and is available  here.

13. Fine Arts Month -  In lieu of Fine Arts Week this year, which should have been next week, Mr. Kurr is running a virtual Fine Arts Month.  All members of our school community - even parents! - are invited to participate. Click here for more info.

Mr. Brown, Mr. Rothacker, and Mr. Ver Voort

--   Michael Ver Voort

Music Teacher & Director of Bands  Middleton High School  (608) 829-9680

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