CRS Play-Along Series
Measures 1-33: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPBYjTtp48A
Measures 32-53: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOZOqjW7Ql4
Measures 53-End: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiMr2YzXtLE
Measures Beginning to End: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7l5XuJ60oA
"On Top of the World"
Measures 1-51: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2qYSOQgGHU
Measures 51-83: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU2nUxYUoIg
Measures 1-33: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLzaEJyi2FQ
Measures 33-44: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPd9zGPk2h0
"CRS Play-Along Week #1
Good evening, CRS musicians/supporters. Here is the first part of what I am hoping many will take part in with the CRS Play-Along series. My time in the evenings are very short, so I will keep these introductions brief. Below you will find a link to the sheet music, as well as some notes about the pieces being ‘assigned.’ This week there is also an attachment in your email for a rhythmic component that will test your rhythmic/pulse determination with a metronome!
*** Clash -- measures: 1-33. The eighth note pattern is crucial to keep the driving rhythms, pounding percussion, and persistent eighth note pulse moving. Being able to retain this rhythmic intensity will create a sense of urgency that will drive the listener from one section to the next. Even if you do not have the eighth note pulse in your individual part, it is always beneficial to the entire ensemble to feel that drive and to support that beat uniformity. I have included a pdf eighth note rhythmic practice sheet (link is located below & is Exercise #6). It’s not terribly difficult, but I encourage you to test it out, and use a metronome and strive for perfection.
Use a metronome! Start with the suggested metronome marking, and increase it as you gain more success and confidence with the rhythms. Your goal is to be extremely precise. Don’t just get it “close,”...get if perfectly right. Hold yourself to this expectation. Try for three (3) times in a row with playing it perfectly correct. Perfect practice makes these components perfect. If you need to, write in the counting for the rhythms. For example, where are the counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 located? Can you identify the subdivided parts of the beats, and where is the syncopation located, if there is any? Practice counting and clapping the rhythms as well. All of this can be translated over to your parts within the sheet music that you play.
*** On Top of the World -- measures 1-51. As with “Clash,” it is imperative that you work this opening section slower than what is written. String players in particular, this is very important in order to learn the style and effect needed for the short rhythmic fragments that begin the piece. Rehearse very slowly, and be very exact with the pitches. Check accuracy with the pitches. As with the rhythms and metronome markings in the piece Clash, “close” is not what should be achieved. Attention to details, the sounds of the notes, the articulation, shape and overall musicality of the notes are just a sample of the package here. This is a very upbeat and fanfare/flashy piece, but the small details will help to excel this feeling, when performed up to tempo. On Wednesday, I will provide some more insights to the first 51 measures, but until then...please take some time to listen to the piece and become more comfortable with the piece, and how your part lies within the first 51 measures. This is a fun piece to learn, play and experience! Think about how much fun it will be to play with all in the same space at some point!
Take care all, and if there are any questions, please, please ask away!
Rhythm Drill Worksheet
"CRS Play-Along Week #2
Good evening, CRS musicians/supporters.
Here is the information for Week #2 of the CRS Play-Along series. I will do my best to keep my explanations brief.
Below you will find some notes about the pieces being ‘assigned.’ This week I am including some information for Strings, Winds, and Percussion on best practices when playing a smooth legato. This week’s piece will focus on “Dusk,” by Steven Bryant (measures 1-33). “Dusk” is an extremely warm (this warmth is very much heard and felt), and an extremely legato piece. The piece is suggested to be learned and performed at a meditative pace...there is no hurry! Please continue to work on “Clash” measures 1-33, and “On Top of the World,” measures 1-51. I encourage you to continue working with your metronome, tuner, and the supplemental exercises I provided last week, as well as incorporating the legato techniques/information that I shared today.
If there are ever any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Thank you, all!
Take care, and happy practicing!
Supplemental Materials (Smooth Legato Playing Techniques/Exercises):
String Players: https://musiclandpublications.com/technique/legato/
Wind Players: Flute: https://banddirectorstalkshop.com/flute-legato/
Euphonium: http://www.euphonium.net/articles.php?revID=6 (There is some good information in here)
"CRS Play-Along Week #3
Good evening, CRS musicians/supporters.
Here is the information for Week #3 of the CRS Play-Along series. Below you will find some notes about the pieces being ‘assigned.’ This week I am including some information about playing five (5) different types of accents/articulations for Strings, Winds, and Percussion players. This week’s piece will focus on “On Top of the World,” (measures 51-83). The main point I want to get across with this section is to make sure to keep the tempo moving at a brisk 152 beats per quarter note. If you struggle with this, that’s alright...simply work at a slower speed, keeping track with a metronome to guide your learning forward, and strive to inch that metronome marking up little by little over the weeks ahead. Hold yourself accountable and do not move the marking faster until you can cleanly perform this section with the correct articulation/accents written within your part.
Please take a read through the link that I have provided for articulations/accents to make sure you understand the clarifications between the accents and staccato notes. All must be played exactly as intended, by all musicians, at the same tempo, and with intensity to drive it forward. No dragging during this section!
The second selection this week is “Clash,” (measures 33-44). This section drives forward in a very mechanical fashion. Percussion needs to be VERY strict with your part...specifically mallet percussion. All parts should enter forcefully, unless stated otherwise. If you have any of the scale pattern (thirds, neighbor tones, stepwise motion) parts, please work with these alongside a metronome at 140 beats per quarter note, and I encourage you to push it to around 145 beats per quarter note as we may push this faster. Also...please be aware that Fp must be held just long enough (an eighth note length) at the beginning to make this effect noticeable and taking place at the same time for all instruments that share this part. I also ask that all crescendos/decrescendos move on beat three of a 4/4 measure, unless it is not carried through the whole measure. Again...this allows less guess work on the ensemble of when these parts are to ‘move’ and a more controlled sound for all. Also...with a tuner at hand...keep your pitch at bay when getting louder/softer, and mark any tendencies for you specifically on your part with an arrow up or down, if you notice your pitch going sharp or flat on a note. This arrow will serve as a nice reminder every time you come to it within your music to prepare to keep the pitch adjusted as necessary.
If you are comfortable at this point, I would ask you all to begin putting the first two sections of “On Top of the World,” and “Clash,” together...alongside the conducting videos/audio examples. I greatly appreciate all who are able to put the work into this, and keep your music skills going during this time. We will visit these pieces as an ensemble (hopefully in the very near future), and I am hoping that we can get a jump start on this music before then.
Thank you all, and I do hope everyone had a chance to enjoy that absolutely beautiful summer like April weather we had last weekend! More please!!!
Take care, all, and Happy Practicing!!!
Supplemental Material (Accents/Articulations Link):
"CRS Play-Along Week #4
Hello CRS Musicians and Supporters!!!
We are now beginning our fourth week of the CRS Play-Along series, and I am hoping that many of you are taking part in this activity. For this week, I am posting our second video from “Dusk,” measures 32-53). I am also providing some “Dusk” rehearsal/practice tips provided by Thomas Richardson. To read his full open research paper, provided by the Graduate School of Southern Illinois University Carbondale please click on this link:
Below is a sample of the remarks about this selection, with a few specifics to measures 32-53: Dusk is slow and lyrical and as with any piece that is marked largo, e molto legato, the tempo and quality of sound in sustained notes will prove to be a challenge. Steven Bryant uses open fifths and cluster chords as parts of his harmonic language, which can cause intonation difficulties. Please consider utilizing an electronic tuner when practicing, to help you hear where your pitches lie within the music. I am also including a pitch tendency chart for all wind players (strings, I did not provide one for obvious reasons). I encourage all wind players to take the time to look at your specific pitch chart and work on filling it out, and keeping it within your music folder for continual studies and revisits, to assist in your ear training and ensemble playing.
The rhythms utilized within “Dusk,” and the instrumental range requirements are within comfortable levels for most players in the ensemble. This comfortable range allows for the musical phrases to flow very easily. However, the use of silences between phrases requires that careful attention be paid to the beginning and ends of notes. Sustaining a quality sound and performing the contrast in dynamic levels, ranging from pianissimo to fortissimo can prove to be difficult at times. Ensemble members will need to stagger their breathing in order to sustain the phrases needed most sections.
Bryant’s harmonic language in this piece ranges from an open fifth, which begins and ends the piece, to bitonal (two different keys sounding at once), quartal and quintal (harmonic structures built from cords of a fourth and fifth), and extended chords. Intonation within these harmonies need extra attention. Bryant creates tone clusters by having each entrance of a new pitch be sustained. The first introduction to this method is in measure 2, where the horn solo notes are outlined in the second and third flute parts, which then are sustained until measure 4. We need to be aware of this technique and balance the ensemble during these moments.
One of the most difficult aspects of an outstanding performance of this piece concerns beginning articulations and how players release notes into silence. Every phrase in this piece uses silence as a musical element. We all must have an active or tapered release based on the phrasing needs and overall sound quality. Even though every phrase uses silence, the phrase beginning at 42 should be given special attention. This is the only moment in the piece where the ensemble needs to release and rearticulate as a whole. First in measure 44, then again at measure 47, each moment of silence must carry the energy to the next phrase. The ensemble must control the long diminuendo in measures 42 through 48.
Thank you all for reading, and happy practicing!!! *** (If you have the time, please check out the full research paper. Very interesting read)!
Supplemental Materials (Below):
“Dusk” by Steven Bryant (measures 32-53) Audio/Video Recording Link Below
Link to Pitch Tendency Sheets:
May 3rd, 2021 -- WEEK #5 CRS Play-Along
Hello, CRS musicians/supporters. CRS Play-Along week #5 is here! This week, we will continue focusing our work with “On Top of the World,” and “Clash.” For “On Top of the World” we will focus on measures 83-119. This section is quite fast and VERY energetic. Keeping the tempo moving forward, without any sense of holding back, is a must in this section. The melody (mostly in the strings) is quite legato, but it is moving at a very consistent and brisk pace, so please keep it moving. The rhythmic undertones, just underneath the melody, are not over done, and are lightly articulated...definitely not heavy. Now...going back to keeping this section moving forward, I would like to share this article: https://www.musiciansway.com/blog/2015/10/forward-motion/
Forward motion in music is something that some may not be aware of, but it is quite important to hear it, and understand how to recognize it, as well as implement it. If you have some extra time, please explore online different articles and videos on ‘forward motion in music.’ It’s quite fun to see and read about this subject.
For “Clash” this week, we are working on measures 44-64. This section also moves at a very consistent tempo, as the piece has up to this point. Articulation should be in the same vein as you have been doing for the first two play-along sessions on this piece that we have had at this point. With this section, put much of your focus on the dynamics and exploring at home the wide variances of your louds and softs. In today’s world, there is lots of information in regards to how to play the most effectively in all levels of dynamics. Again, if you have some time, head over to YouTube and type in “how to play loud and soft on the flute,” (insert the name of your instrument’), and look for various videos on how to best practice and achieve the playing of dynamics on your instrument. As always, use discretion when watching any of the videos.
If you have any feedback about how the CRS Play-Along is going for you, please share @ CRSMusicians@gmail.com. We would love to hear how things are going! If you are able to share a positive comment or short clip of your practice, please do!
Take care, all, and Happy Practicing!!!
On Top of the World -- Measures 83-119: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vFk7qYLJfo
Clash -- Measures 44-64: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA5PzwGtAi8
Supplemental Material (Accents/Articulations Link):
https://www.musiciansway.com/blog/2015/10/forward-motion/ (Forward Motion Article)
May 10th, 2021 -- WEEK #6 CRS Play-Along
Hello, CRS musicians/supporters. CRS Play-Along week #6 is here, and this one will wrap up with our “Dusk” music selection. Below you will find the YouTube link to two videos:
Please take some time to truly feel the warmth and controlled sound of your notes to the very end. Always produce a full sound even at the softest of levels. I often begin my warmups at school with long tones, and I work with all of my students on producing a good full sound at all levels (p, mp, f, ff). If your sound begins to “break” apart at the loudest levels, or is thin and wimpy at the softest of levels, then examine what is causing this. Is it breath support, lack of air, bow pressure, bow location (straight bow), bow grip, etc. There are always reasons for why your sound is the way it is, so don’t be afraid to research, ask questions, and challenge yourself to practice, improve, and provide the best sound in ALL registers.
I am also a firm believe that listening to multiple examples of the sound that you would like to emulate will help you on your journey to finding this sound. The same goes for the music in which you are working on. Before playing all the way through “Dusk,” take a listen to some of the examples that I provided, and find some on your own. You’ll be surprised by the different interpretations that are out there. Musical ideas and possible suggestions can come from the different styles that you are exposed to, and I believe this only further builds your toolbox of creativity and musicality.
Enjoy, and have fun with this week’s work on “Dusk!”
As always, please share any and all progress that you are making! () It’s always great to hear from each and everyone of you. Please stay tuned for more information about the continued work with the CRS Play-Along series, and more things CRS!
Take care, all, and have a great rest of your week!
Dusk -- Measures 53-End: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiMr2YzXtLE
Dusk -- Entire piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7l5XuJ60oA
Supplemental Material (Dusk Videos):