Aspen Winds has just completed a wonderful collaboration with the NOVA Chamber Music Series, playing our “Aspen Winds Goes Dancing” program at eight schools in the Salt Lake valley. A fun, exciting adventure with middle school kids, as well as one high school and one elementary school.
At each school, we set up our group on stage, on the floor in front of the stage, or in the band room. However we could get closest to the students so they could see the nuts and bolts of putting a program together. It was a huge lesson in going with the flow and working with whatever situation the day brought us. Not a surprise, as this proves to be one of our big strengths as a group. Play in Zion National Park in blistering heat? No problem! Rain threatening to sidetrack our concert? Breathe deeply and move the whole entourage inside! A hodgepodge of band, orchestra, choir and computer classes? Come join us!
NOVA’s Brooke Adams was a fantastic partner in booking each school and rounding up the troops we would be performing for each day. Our program included a selection of dance music – the tango, two kinds of stomping dances, three different waltzes, and ended with the Charleston. We highlighted the typical rhythm of each style of dance and its origins. But most importantly, we discussed our love of chamber music and illustrated as a group how we rehearse and perform music.
Questions from the kids ranged from the general - How long have you been playing together? to the specific - How long do you practice? What exercises do you use to warm up? Tell me how you make an oboe reed?? My favorite memory was from the day we visited Bonneville Junior High in Holladay. After we performed for the band students in the auditorium, it was their turn! We moved to the band room to hear them perform a piece they were preparing for an upcoming concert. We spent about 45 minutes coaching the students and talking about the specific challenges of each instrument. It was thrilling to hear the difference in their performance afterward. And especially gratifying to watch my fellow Aspen Winds colleagues interact with the kids and with each other.