JANUARY LESSONS BEGIN THIS WEEK – The lesson calendar and new lesson groups were reviewed class and are available on Dashboard.

·      CAMERAS ON, PLEASE – I’ve asked the students to please have their cameras on during our class time. Thanks!

·      THE MUSIC OF THE SWING ERA – As mentioned in last week’s update, we have begun our study of music from the Swing Era.  Students are learning how to interpret jazz rhythms, articulations and style, and we have been introduced to iconic composers Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman.

At the end of the unit, we usually present our annual Swing Dance Concert – this would have been our 13th year.  For those new to the program, the concert was held in the gym, in the form of a dance (in old-school prom style, where we decorate the gym and provide light refreshments).  The entire community was invited, a professional dance lesson was offered at the beginning of the evening, and our YHS Band students played swing music for all to enjoy. 

I am sad that we are not able to host our Swing Dance this year. This event has become the highlight of the band calendar, our most beloved tradition, which is a testament to the years of our collective work (students, alumni, community and faculty members, and SO many band parents!) to make it the professional and unique experience that it has become. 

This year, like our winter concert, we will instead put together a virtual presentation for mid-February. 

·      THE SHIM SHAM – Swing music was, literally, made to be danced to. So, as part of our unit, students learn social dances from the period.  Putting the rhythm in their feet, and feeling the “swing” of the beat, helps their ability to interpret the music. This year we are learning a line dance called the “Shim Sham” which was popular in the Harlem Swing venues of the 1930’s (most notably the Savoy Ballroom).  The students learned the first steps this week in class! 

·      NEW APP – This week all students were given access to the A-ccompany app. I am so excited for them to use this awesome practice tool! A-ccompany includes professional recordings of our music, with the ability to isolate individual parts, change the tempo, focus on measures, and choose which instruments to play along with.