Hello! Happy Fourth of July everyone!
I’m writing to reflect on the last few weeks of this program. I wish I would have written a bit about the rehearsal cycle we had in order to prepare for the showband sets, but as a Disneyland Cast Member, I can’t reveal anything about what goes on back stage! All I can tell you is that practice makes perfect! Working with Shelly Nichols as our choreographer was a challenge and she really pushed us to our limits musically, mentally, and physically.
After we set our shows in the park for the first time, we moved to the second phase of the College Band Program, focusing more and more on our sight reading and Big Band Jazz playing. Every day we read new charts in rehearsal and perform them that afternoon in the park for the guests. We read great music by Alan Baylock, Matt Harris, and Gordon Goodwin. A few of our charts are Disney themed (no way!), but mostly we play great and classic literature.
Every week a guest clinician comes in to work with the band. They bring charts for us to read and prepare during two rehearsals and then perform the music in a concert on the second day of their clinics.
Our first clinician came on June 24th and 25th. My own professor from Indiana University, Steve Houghton, came to work with the group! In my previous post I had mentioned that Professor Houghton encouraged me to work out of his book, “Studio and Big Band Drumming” before and during my time leading up to his arrival at Disney. He said that he would be checking on my progress with the methods presented in his book. I think he was pleased, but being my teacher, he had to lay it down hard on me. Tough love from the teacher, eh?! He encouraged me to get out of the habit of relying only on the chart and to open up my ears to the music happening within the horn section of the band to inform my musical decisions. On the concert I got to play behind him on Congas and other Latin percussion instruments. I, as well as the rest of the band, felt the power and intensity that he creates from behind the drums. I feel so lucky to be able to study with him during the year. What a great performance!
I’ll be writing more soon about more adventures with the Mouse! Back to the woodshed for Shiney!