Thursday, January 22


The next pep band is Tuesday, January 23, at 6:45. Students in 6th through 12th grade are welcome to sign up and play.

Symphonic Band

Students received the permission slip for the MMEA trip today.

Tomorrow, I'll be gone for the afternoon with students at the MN High School Music Listening Contest. The band will be running through the full MMEA set in my absence with Mrs. Gust.

Today's rehearsal was several steps forward in playing expressively in Devil Dance and Reflexão e Dança. Students should continue working on playing regular and marcato accents in both pieces.

Concert Band

I think the concert band is getting more of the heart of the Andrew Boysen Symphony no. 4. We worked on the 4th movement today, particularly the middle section in which most of the band sings. It's an eerie effect. Another area we worked on was playing expressively in Prospect. I compared expressive playing of music to the expressive reading of poetry. Too often, we play lines in band in a way that we would never speak a comparable text.

6th Grade

We moved on to page 21 and 6/8 time today. The students did a good job following directions on the counting, and we moved through the new material faster than I anticipated. This left extra time to play two potential concert works (the Allegretto from Beethoven's seventh symphony and Ironclad) as well as a rhythm game. For the record, the woodwinds won.

Tuesday, January 20

Symphonic Band

Great rehearsal! We made progress in structuring the improv section of Reflexão and tightened up some style and rhythms in Basin Street. Look forward to Friday this week: a run-through of the whole set for MMEA.

Concert Band

The group did some very nice expressive playing today in Prospect and started to put together the fourth movement of the Andrew Boysen Symphony no. 4. The next pep band is Tuesday, January 27, and students who did not attend the first one should plan to attend this one.

6th-Grade Band

After a strong start and some great reading in the EE book, the group struggled to maintain momentum at the end of class. We're getting to some more challenging music, and students will need to make sure they are working hard on their individual parts for the concert pieces so that class time can be used effectively.

Thursday, January 15

Symphonic Band

We focused on the first contrasting section in Rhythm Machine today. It is tough to keep the tempo up and also play with good style and attention to dynamics. After this, we ran two pieces: Freedom Dance and Reflexão. Students then made a list on their practice sheets of sections in each piece they need to work on. This should help guide their practicing and lesson times over the next few weeks.

Concert Band

I finished evaluating students for their upcoming smart goal project, and students rehearsed sections of Prospect and the fourth movement of the Boysen Symphony No. 4.

5th-Grade Band

The fifth-grade group continues to make solid progress. Today we reviewed slurs on page 19 and progressed to learning about phrases and a new key signature on page 20. We then learned a couple sections of Gavotte and saw how the melody is consistent, but the accompaniment changes to give each section a different feel.

Wednesday, January 14

Symphonic Band

Today we finished up regularly scheduled class performances. We worked on the last two sections of Rhythm Machine, adjusting balance and phrasing. Many students still have to work out some technical challenges in this piece. We finished with Devil Dance and a short quiz.

Concert Band

Students completed a reflection on their solo and ensemble performance and the first semester in band.

6th-Grade Band

Page 19 in the EE book is a challenging one. Students need to make sure they work on every exercise on the page even though they are not all assigned for the next lesson. We started page 20, which offers some enjoyable review exercises as a respite to the challenges of 19. Brass players in particular need to be playing consistently to build their range. We finished class by turning in old practice sheets in exchange for the new one and sight reading two pieces. The group's reading level has come a long way since the start of the year.

Tuesday, January 13

Concert Band

GREAT rehearsal today. We covered the second half of the first movement in Andrew Boysen's Symphony No. 4, and I think the students are getting the heart of the piece. The first movement burns with primal energy and sustaining that feel for a few minutes straight. The group sounded good singing at the beginning, and we observed some neat compositional techniques at work to unify the piece.

Symphonic Band

There were some fine student performances today, and we made progress in defining some background rhythms in Reflexão. The main part of rehearsal, though, involved increasing the tempo of Basin Street Barbeque and trying to get the flavor of New Orleans to come through. Check out Rebirth Brass Band for some more stylistic inspiration.

5th Grade

We covered a lot of new material today. Students sightread well in the Essential Elements Quiz, #98, and we finished playing the last two sections of Gavotte. Students also received new practice sheets. All students must keep their practice sheet filled out and up to date! Sheets that are incomplete will not receive points. Parents should sign and date their child's sheet a day before the lesson, and students who miss their lesson should show their practice sheet to Mr. DeCaro within one day in order to receive credit.



Tuesday, January 6

Concert Band

The group showed some great musicianship in rehearsing Prospect today. The group's playing represented what we need to be able to do on more complex pieces of music.

Symphonic Band

A second great rehearsal in a row. We covered the second half of Rhythm Machine, and the group is showing a solid grasp of the heart of the piece. We also started to structure the open section of the Reflexão e Dança.

6th-Grade Band

We moved into some more challenging territory in EE book 2. Ranges (especially brass) are being pushed and the level and variety of rhythm reading required is pretty high on pages 18 and 19. Students should make sure to keep a consistent pulse (many would benefit from a metronome) and using the playalongs that accompany the book would be helpful.

Monday, January 5


Solo and Ensemble is this Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00. This affects all Concert Band students and some Symphonic Band students. See the schedule here.

Symphonic Band

I set some high expectations for the Symphonic Band today. We have just under six weeks to finish preparations for our MMEA performance, and there is a lot to be done. It's not that we're in a bad place right now--the group has worked to meet the expectations placed on them so far this year, and it is time to raise the bar where it now needs to be. Every music director wants rehearsal to be packed and relevant to everyone, and part of the expectations I have for the group over these next six weeks are that they will come to every rehearsal knowing their individual parts so that our rehearsals can focus on the aspects of group playing that can only be addressed together.

To help us focus, we are adopting a pattern of rehearsal called "50 Measures a Day," in which we will focus on a section of music intensely, playing small chunks at a time, before moving on to running large sections of other pieces.

Today, rehearsal focused on the first 50 measures of Rhythm Machine. Students did a great job with the pace of the rehearsal and responding to instructions.

Concert Band

Today was devoted to preparations for Solo and Ensemble on Thursday.

5th-Grade Band

Pretty good rehearsal today for the day after a long break. We reviewed pages 17 and 18 in the Essential Elements books and finished class with a rhythm game. Students should be checking off page 17, #84 and pages 42, measures 21-28 with me before the end of the quarter. All exercises after that will go on the third quarter grading period.

Thursday, December 18

Concert Band

Today we read through most of the three works up for consideration as the main piece on our MSHSL Contest program. They are the Bach Prelude and Fugue in B-flat, Andrew Boysen's Sympony No. 4, and David Holsinger's The Gathering of the Ranks at Hebron.

Symphonic Band

Wow! We played through the whole program that I have planned for the MMEA Clinic in February.  Eight pieces, and we made it.

5th-Grade Band

Surprise! No band today for the fifth graders.

Wednesday, December 17

Concert Band

Students worked on their chamber music for Solo and Ensemble on January 8.

Symphonic Band

We made some progress on playing staccato style in Rhythm Machine as well as addressing balance and timing in Basin Street Barbeque.

6th Grade Band

Students received two new pieces--an arrangement of the Allegretto movement from Beethoven's 7th Symphony and a piece called Ancient Moon. Students also reviewed a new rhythm pattern this week. The dotted eighth note-sixteenth note combination is very much like the dotted quarter-eighth note pattern, but students are not accustomed to needing to subdivide and feel every sixteenth note as they play. We covered several practice strategies, including speeding up the dotted quarter-eighth rhythm, playing four sixteenth notes and tying the first three together, and tapping or speaking the sixteenths while playing or producing the rhythm.

Tuesday, December 16


Solo and Ensemble Registration and payment is past due! All students in Concert Band should be participating. Some students's ensembles from Symphonic Band are also involved.

Concert Band

Students turned in smart goals today to drive their practicing over the next month and a half. They will be recording the initial assessment of the skill involved by the end of this week.

Rehearsal focused on expressive playing in Ammerland and correct style in the Bach Prelude and Fugue (which may not actually have been written by Bach...)

Symphonic Band

Following up on yesterday's great Monk Rehearsal, the group sight read what may be the final new piece for our MMEA performance. John Kinyon's Devil Dance begins with a driving fanfare in 6/8, includes a couple tricky measures of hemiola, and may wind up being our concert opener.

5th-Grade Band

Solid work from the group today. We finished our overview of page 17 and explored some improvisation in exercise #85, "Essential Creativity."

Upcoming assignments for 5th Grade include:

  1. Page 17, #84--prepared without help from me
  2. Page 42, measures 21-28
  3. Page 18, #90--may be due in the third quarter instead of second
  4. Class Performances! Students are playing on either January 7 or 9 and must choose an exercise from pages 14 through 17.

Monday, December 15

Symphonic Band did a Monk Rehearsal, which means no talking from students as well as no talking from Mr. DeCaro! The group worked on expressive phrasing in Country Wildflowers and nailing down some rhythms in Basin Street Barbeque

Concert Band. Solo and Ensemble forms were due today! Students should have their finished SMART goal for class on Tuesday the 16th and record their initial assessment by the end of the week. Rehearsal today focused on some style considerations in the Bach Prelude and Fugue in B-flat Major. We also sight read David Holsinger's Cluster, Fluster, Bluster March and played a section of The Gathering of the Ranks at Hebron.

6th Grade Band showed today why they have been having a great year. When it came time to play O Tannenbaum from the EE book, many minds went to the Christmas melody in their heads instead of reading the music in the book. After a refresher on the dotted-eighth, sixteenth note rhythm, the group did a great job adjusting to different tempos. Back row students will perform for class on Tuesday, January 6, and front row students will perform on Thursday, January 8. Students should select an exercise from page 14 through 17.


New Assignments – page 18, #91, and p. 42 measures 21-28

Friday, December 12

Jazz Band

  • sectionals on Trouble in TaipeiSister Sadie, and On Green Dolphin Street
  • combo time

Symphonic Band

SB had a great rehearsal today, working through some of the swing rhythms in Basin Street Barbeque and spending some time on the open section of Reflexão e Dança.

Students should be working hard on their chamber music for class performances (and possibly Solo and Ensemble) after winter break.

Concert Band

After reading through a new tune of mine for pep band, the band also read David Holsinger's The Gathering of the Ranks at Hebron. His writing is great because it is both interesting to listen to and fun for every section of the band to play.

Solo and Ensemble is only a few weeks away! Student chamber groups will be performing at SCPA on Thursday, January 8, between 5:00 and 8:00 pm. Each group (or soloist) will have a 15 minute slot in which to perform and then receive verbal feedback from a judge.