As I've traveled around to work with different bands - be it to pop in for a day of consulting or working long-term and in-depth - I've had many directors ask about what they need to do to improve.
While there are many various ways we all can improve regularly, one of the simplest and easiest fixes to get your program achieving on a whole new level - points better; placements better - is having a structure to the rehearsal.
Some of the programs where I've seen the biggest need for this are where I stop in and the director says "alright, we're going to start with a run-through."
Mandatory Social Distancing is my third foray into the world of multi stream video virtual ensemble projects (besides a short stint of dabbling with that certain multi stream phone app). Before working on MSD, I did two projects for the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps - one of which we shared widely (the corps song) and one of which we buried and will never see the light of day (my first go at these kinds of project, and quite a learning experience).
With the publication of the Blue Stars video and with my on-going social media commentary throughout the process of MSD, I've gotten a number of questions from folks who want to do something similar: "How did you do it?" "What program do you use?" - I decided to put together this blog post to answer those questions in one place and to offer a fair word of warning.
Probably in this space is where I should mention the rippling consequences of the COVID-19 situation, the various shut-downs around the country, and of course, the need for musicians to still find a way to perform in ensembles together. If you're here reading this, I don't need to say anything more about the situation: you already get it. You might be a band director with an administrator asking you to toss together a video of your kids - "How cool would that be??"
In the words of Samuel L. Jackson from Jurassic Park: Hold on to your butts.
One of the growing headaches we face in the marching arts is the cost of copyright clearances. The challenge is that we all recognize the composers and artists deserve the compensation for their works, but the increasing expenses of getting the clearances is squeezing many band directors' budgets.
There's a great clearing house that provides quick, simple, and easy access to getting rights granted quickly and knowing your costs right away. However, that access comes at a premium, and that's where bands face a greatly increased budget. Thankfully - there is an alternative.
The last few days of my adventure in Lithuania have been pretty quiet - mostly just me working at the BnB. Here are some photos from my daily walkabouts. Check the captions for more info.
Having had a productive week and gotten a lot accomplished (and also having not spent much money through the week), I decided to go get another good dinner. Thanks again to the Lonely Planet website, I found there were a lot of higher-end restaurants in Vilnius, so I decided to give another one a shot. I discovered (and booked a dinner at) Sweet Root, in the Užupio Republic district. The dinner was stunning - easy and uncomplicated, yet very refined and delicious!
With the forthcoming trip to San Antonio for TMEA coming up soon, I've been spending a lot more time hunkered down and cranking out the work to get ready. I've kind of settled into a routine of getting up, having breakfast, going for a walk, then getting back to the BnB to get to work, putting in long hours.
From the past couple days, not a lot of new and exciting things to talk about, but here are some of the highlights...
Wanting to get some authentic Lithuanian chow, I headed over to Senoji trobelė based on a recommendation from The Lonely Planet website. The Lonely Planet and Senoji trobelė's websites both recommended reservations for a meal, but for the time of day I was headed there, I was going to take a chance. Fortunately it was pretty quiet, so I was in luck.
Unlike the other day's six-course tasting menu with all the bells and whistles, this was a pretty simple meal.
Despite waking up to a Wintry Mix this morning, I was determined to get out of the BnB, go for a bit of a walk, and see some more of the city. As the morning turned to afternoon, the weather turned from a mix to just snow, which looked picturesque outside the window - so, I got cleaned up, put my layers on, and trekked outside.
My first destination was lunch. I found a "What do to in Vilnius" post on lonelyplanet.com, and on that page, it recommended a restaurant called Senoji Trobelė (which translates to "The Old Hut"). The place serves traditional Lithuanian cuisine, so I was all about checking it out - and it was delicious (of course, you should know by now that food blogs are posted separately).
Hello, blog fans.
I haven't posted much for a couple days - pretty much because not a lot has transpired this week so far.
The biggest thing - my thought that I beat jet lag after my 12-hour sleep the other day - nope. I've pretty much been sleeping for about two hours, then away for three or four (or more), then sleeping a few more hours. So, combining not really waking up until 11:00, along with cold/wet weather, and getting work done (after all, this is a work trip), I haven't really done a lot of traveling, exploring, or anything of much interest. The most excitement I've had is a couple trips to the grocery store. The good news is, I'm growing less afraid of grocery shopping.
Following my epically delicious dinner Saturday night, I came back to my BnB, put up my blog posts, then went to bed.
And 12 hours later, I woke up Sunday afternoon
This is the first continuous night of sleep I've had in a few days, and it felt marvelous. [Spoiler alert: as I write this on Monday morning, I ended up getting very little sleep last night]
So my Sunday afternoon was spent working on plans for post-Vilnius - what's next after I leave Lithuania. I'll be here until February 10, then a short flight back over to Moscow, overnight stay in a hotel at the airport, then my next flight to... TEXAS! Musescore will be at TMEA and I'm thrilled that I get to go along. Following TMEA, I'll be heading back to Russia and spending some time in Saint Petersburg before I'll eventually end up back home in South Carolina.
After finalizing these plans, my next stop was to head over the Lithuanian Academy of Theatre and Music (the National Conservatory), where I was invited to check out a Brass Band rehearsal. The walk over to that side of town was great, and I stumbled across a park with a public, outdoor ice skating rink set up.