Christmas music is one way to brighten up the holiday season. But where did it come from? Surprisingly, Christmas carols did not start off as Christmas carols. The tradition of singing and listening to carols started as a pagan ritual celebrating the Winter Solstice. Christmas was also celebrated around the same time as the Winter Solstice so the early Christians decided to sing Christian songs instead of the pagan ones as a way to celebrate the holiday.
Later on many composers decided to write their own Christmas Carols, but not many people enjoyed them. That’s because they were all written in latin, a language that most people did not understand.
Ah, Christmas music. The virus that plagues every radio station and public place from Halloween on. Everyone seems to have different tolerance levels for holiday tunes; some will blast them all the way from Halloween to New Years’, and others will only allow it over the much-anticipated Christmas break.
As for me, I’m somewhere in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good festive carol in December, but my parents can tell you about the many times I have turned off one of the many radio stations who have been playing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “All I Want for Christmas is You” since the first of November. Our rule of thumb as a family is that we don’t listen to Christmas music until the weekend after Thanksgiving, when we put up our Christmas tree (fake, because I’m allergic) and decorate for the season. After that, I have a much higher tolerance for it, and will probably have some festive tune stuck in my head until long after the holiday’s over.
Whatever your mindset towards the sounds of the season, I hope you have a fantastic holiday season! (It’s the best time of the year!)
Photo via Republika Online.
Back in early 2020, before the Coronavirus, things were normal. We could have band class normally and not have to wear a mask or stay 6 feet apart. Now, we have to have virtual class, which is not the same. But, just because we are supposed to stay socially distanced does not mean that you can’t have any friends. It just means we need to stay physically apart. If you stay connected with people, you can still interact without needing to see them in person. Stay connected with friends and your bandmates.
Music can bring people together even though we may be apart. I moved to Smith in 2019. It was hard because I was new. But I made friends through band class, people who did play the same instrument that I played, and people who played different instruments. This is why band is a subject and passion that can bring people together.
Right now, you can’t really go outside your house.
So what should you do?
Read a book!
But not just any book, a book about music!
More specifically, a fiction book about music called “The Mystwick School of Musicraft”. It is a book for middle schoolers, but it is so good. It feels kind of like Harry Potter, but it isn’t a rip-off. It is a little bit creepy, but it won’t give you nightmares.
The book is about a world where everyone can do magic, but they can only do it with instruments. The main character, Amelia Jones, wants to get into the best school for musicraft, making magic with instruments. However, she already knows about magic, so this isn’t Harry Potter. She has a horrible audition, and I can’t say much past that about what happens. But she gets haunted by a ghost, has many things go wrong, and makes a few friends (typical, but still nice)
If you get an audiobook, then you can hear the music played along with the book, which is really nice and goes along with the mood. There is a lot about music, and it is a really fun book.
Click on the link to access the book
Trumpets are really easy to start on because the mouthpiece isn’t huge like the trombone, french horn or tuba (Ever notice that most of the brass instruments names start with a t? It’s weird.) They also don’t require a lot of air like a tuba, or a precise length to push your arm out to like a trombone. They have three easy buttons and you just have to memorize the fingerings, which isn’t so hard.
You also can play lots of parts. You can play really high notes or you can play low notes.
You can play the background melody, but that doesn’t happen a lot. My favorite part of being a trumpet is playing solos. Everyone knows who’s playing because we have a very distinctive sound that I think sounds really nice. We also can play as fast as we can switch fingerings, which is a lot faster than some of the instruments with lots of keys.
Trumpet is also the best brass instrument to play because we don’t require a lot of air, so we can focus on our sound. My mom said that if you learn trumpet, you can play all the other brass instruments. We don’t have a huge case that you bump into everything like trombone, french horn or tuba, although I bump my case in a lot of things.
Wow, that’s a lot of reasons why trumpet is that best instrument. Maybe I’m not just making stuff up, trumpet might actually be that best instrument. Think about it, and hopefully, you will visit again!
Image by MasterTux from Pixabay
You may think band is all about learning how to play a new musical instrument and getting good at it, but that’s not just it at all. Band can build much more than just musical skills, but they won’t come easy. In order to acquire these skills, you must really be a part of the band and work as much as possible for it. Here’s how!
Practice, Practice, Practice!!!
Practicing your instrument at home is an incredibly important part of playing in a band, if you practice correctly. This means focusing on the things you are struggling with and seriously trying your best to get better at them until you do. Practice will make practicing a lot more comfortable for you as you will be on track with your pieces and be able to focus on other things other than just musical notes, like dynamics and understanding which part of the band is the melody in all our song parts. This will also allow you to help others in your regimen. If everyone in the band does this, we will all play better at concerts and generally we will sound better.
When we are practicing together, always focus on what you need to be doing.
This means not having side conversations, listening to what the commander is saying and follow all her directions. This could help our band be more productive and we would be able to focus on sounding good instead of having to be constantly redirected. This is extremely important for 7th grade band right now because we are having some trouble with our pieces and our concert is so soon. If all of us focus on what we must be doing at all times, we will get maximum productivity and our pieces will be ready for our concert in late October.
Effort and dedication.
Effort and dedication are also extremely important attributes we need to put into our band routine in general. I have already mentioned that you need to put maximum effort into practice, but also you won’t do that well in your band, and the purpose would be ruined, if you not putting effort into band. This means always trying to get the most out of it whenever you are playing your instrument, whether its at home or in band. If you want to sound better, and if you want the band to sound better, we all need to really want to get better. We need that motivation, and the truth is if we don’t want to get better, we just won’t. This doesn’t just mean always trying your hardest, it also means always persevering and pushing through for the sake of the band and our sound. I know from personal experience that you may get frustrated when you are messing up on a hard part in your song, but its important to not give up and try your hardest until you can do it. If everyone in the band does this as well, we will sound great. Along with dedication, sacrifice is also important. There will surely be a time in your life when the words “sorry, I can’t go because I have a band thing” come out of your mouth, or something along those lines. You need to be willing to make those kinds of sacrifices and its okay. It’s worth it because band is extremely important.
Okay, great. But what is the point of doing all this? What are those skills you were talking about?
Doing all these things I mentioned, and trying your hardest in life, could acquire you many life skills. Here are some examples!
And many more! Band is very important. Try your best. You may not see it at first, but if you do you will get rewarded, and you will acquire many important life skills.
It is not possible to not hear music at some point in your life, but if you do not like it, then you have a hard life. Music is therapeutic, it is fun to listen to, and humans are one of the few species that it sounds good too. Music is just sounds to most animals, so we are lucky.
Music has been proven to be therapeutic to us and helps with emotional therapy. People can actually heal (emotionally) by listening to music. When I get angry, if I just listen to calm music, I calm down.
Music also takes part in a lot of the fun we have. Movies would not be movies without music. Most video games would not be video games without music. Without music, the world would be dull. Music livens up the world because it enhances whatever we do. If you were playing a horror game and it didn’t have music, it wouldn’t be a horror game because there would not be as much suspense. All in all, the world would not be the same without music and we would not have as good of a life if not for music.
After we are done with our concerts, there is not much to do, except to get better. This is a bit strange for me, because we have always had a concert to prepare for during the year.
During this time, we are playing mostly from our book. The only thing about this is that it is much much much more simple than our regular music. We also play from sheet music and this is also out of the norm because we are not perfecting it as we would be playing it in a concert.
If you made the small group ensemble concert, we are still practicing for that. It is a very different atmosphere. We are still learning, but it feels a bit strange. Though this time is a bit unusual, I still like it because it is very laid back.
Image by fabrixx from Pixabay
I was only in 3rd grade when I thought, "Hey, I want to play the cello". Of course, there were things that led me up to think that. Like seeing my current 7th-grade friends play in the school orchestra and drinking hot chocolate while listening to my friend’s mother, who is a cellist in some Ohio Symphony. At the elementary school I attended, school orchestra began in 4th grade.
So like any other person, I began to play in 4th grade and was happy with my decision. I also joined a sing-and-dance choir that same year. In 5th grade, I was introduced to band. I played the Glockenspiel (bells) with only one other person. I sadly wasn’t very interested and didn’t sign up for band this year. I just had too much on my plate since I continued choir. I barely even had time to eat lunch!
For quite some time now, we have been working in small groups. We all got to choose our groups of two to five people. We all pick and arrange a piece or selection and make it fit our group. This is not just overnight. Every member of the group needs to contribute. Everyone also needs to practice at home.
This has taught me that in a small group ensemble, or any group project, everyone needs to bear their weight. I think that this was a good project because it is teaching us responsibility and that we need to be practicing at home. Particularly in my group, I know that I have to practice because the piece is challenging for the whole group. Practicing is not only beneficial to the whole group, but to every individual. This seems like a fun and educational project that teaches us a whole lot.
Come hear our small ensembles Thursday, May 30 at 6:30 in our auditorium.