Saturday, April 19, 2008
Adventures in Music 2
As part of the "physics" slant of this year's music program, the brass performers explained how their instruments worked, starting with the mouthpieces that didn't do much all by themselves.
You need vibration for sound waves to exist...
...and to demonstrate, all the kids had been provided with kazoos.
The Drei Brass then taught the audience to play their fanfare on the kazoos...
...and instructed them to do so whenever they heard the words, "THE DREI BRASS!"
They explained how the vibration goes through the mouthpiece and through a length of tubes which were different on each instrument...
...emerging out of the "bell," which Alicia muted to the softest of French Horn tones by way of demonstration.
The great contemporary science fiction writer, John Varley, has written a series of short stories set in the not-too-distant future where certain societal improvements are taken for granted, such as brain surgeons having the social respect of a good mechanic, and teachers of children having something like the social respect of a brain surgeon and Nobel Peace Prize winner combined.
His 1980 story "Beatnik Bayou" is set in a school where the teacher has been genetically engineered to look the same age as his fellow students, and to be a mentor and guru while acting as a peer.
There was a flavor of this in tuba player Zach Spellman's interactions with the kids, which was both over the top and completely uncondescending.
He was tapping into some inner first grader in a manner that I've rarely seen...
...and the effect on the kids was electric.
The concert ended with a pitch perfect rendition of a march from "The Nutcracker" on kazoos by the entire audience that came out of nowhere without rehearsal.
"Let's all thank The Drei Brass," principal Gini Dold said after the finale, and the three performers behind her bugged their eyes out which was a cue the kids picked up on immediately. The Drei Brass fanfare was played on kazoos for a final time and it was the principal who had unintentionally set everyone off. I don't think I've ever seen better musical education in my life.