September 8, 2015

Anaheim Tour (Yes, Tour!)

So yeah. It was that time of year. Little Bg Band went on tour. We played our hearts out, literally and metaphorically. We spent hours on a bus, hours in a clinic, hours at Disneyland creating memories that last forever. Who wouldn't want to spend time with some of their best friends in a bus, talking and laughing away the care-free time of their lives?

Day 1- Bus Ride!

I woke up at 6 am in my own bed, not really waking up. Are you kidding me? I was awake the whole night! I got ready and flew to the car with my horn and suitcase. The drive to the studio was the worst- I couldn't sit still. We finally got there, and I ran around frantically trying to find Caroleine. We loaded our stuff on the bus and sat together.

I think we talked the entire time, laughing about things like the Copacabana and stupid books while eating Ben & Jerry's.  With Caroline living pretty far away from me, it's pretty hard to get bonding time with a friend like her. We sat giggling and laughing with most people listening silently to music. I think we beat them in the fun mode.

Because Snapchat. 

We eventually arrived after I had a heart attack. Caleb told us our room arrangements and gave us our keys. Our roommates were two other fabulous girls- Bryn Chapman and Malaeka Kariuki. Even though I had a near-death experience that day, I wanted to join the rest of the band kids in the pool. We swan and enjoyed ourselves maybe a little too much, cause we were too worn out after that. 

Day 2- Disneyland!

So you were probably imagining another night of not much sleep. Bingo. We got up barely in time to make it to the tour bus. As we sat there with too much anticipation inside us, Caleb passed out our tickets and told us the rules. For most of the time, I stuck with a group of Caroleine, Josh, and Lane. We had a blast waiting two and a half hours for Disney's Pixar Cars ride. Caroleine and I even rode a carousel and felt like five-year-olds again. But when you're at Disneyland, who wouldn't feel like a child? It's the happiest place on Earth for a reason.

A couple hours later, we met up with a large group of boys like Sully(the person, not the blue monster), Joseph, Ethan, Ryan, Brian, Coby, Salem, Zane, Matt, Sam, and Charlie. While waiting in line for Toy Story Adventure, Caroleine and I had tried to learn a game called Snaps. Not fun.

- A Short and Stupid Story -

Once upon a time, I had asked to sit next to Sully on Toy Story Adventure. If you'd been on that ride before, you'd know that its a video game ride, and you get points for shooting objects. Well, here's the thing: Sully was very competitive, and he had a high score. At the end of the ride, the cart stopped at the point screen. He tried to take a picture with his phone, but he dropped it when the cart started moving again. We hit a bump and continued to exit the ride. 

Sully, Caroleine and I waited against the wall while someone went inside the ride to retrieve his phone. Needless to say, they didn't come back with a phone. They came back with a bag of battery acid.

We had a great day riding California Screamin' and eating macaroons and just being kids. Did you ever notice how many different songs the parks play?  Just imagine: you have absolutely nothing on your to-do list. You're in California on a bright, sunny day. Sunglasses on, your best friend right next to you. Your heart lifts from your chest and butterflies take the place of your stomach. The smile on your face is similar to the one when you learned how to jump rope. It's you two against the world- and the only thing you can't do is leave. You look at your best friends' face, and her smile is bigger than yours. Your heart lifts higher, and you can't help but wish this day would never end.

We rode more rides and had more fun. When the sun crept past the hills, we decided to eat dinner. The restaurant we chose had a live jazz trio swinging famous disney melodies like Colors of the Wind. Us Little Big Band kids- yeah, we ate it up. We then went to ride in a casket inside the Haunted Mansion. Because of my bad luck, the ride broke while we were in the middle of the mansion. I will never speak of the actual terror that happened in that house ever again. 

Boys being boys, everyone had wanted to ride the Tower of Terror. Allow me to tell you that the Tower of Terror is super sketchy, despite what everyone else tells you. Bryan used to tell me stories of his Anaheim tour with Little Big Band, and one of them was how he'd literally fall down the tower. He'd pull his seatbelt all the way out and sit on it, so he could fly out of his seat at the top. Bryan suggested I do it, but I didn't want to die.

After it got dark around ten, we were stupid enough to decide to go on water rides. We rode the Bear Creek Rapids. Not once, but about five times until the park closed. This ride was really special, because on the last run of the ride our float had started singing Katy Perry's Firework. When we got to the peak of the mountain and started floating downhill, actual fireworks went off.

We got back to our hotel room exhausted, ready to sleep. That so didn't happen. There was a lot of sugar and adrenaline in our system. Bryn and Malaeka were really excited too, but we needed to sleep because of our big performance the next day.

Day 3-  Clinic!

At around noon, we had a small performance in a deserted high school in front of Wayne Bergeron and Francisco Torres. Those two men are some of my idols, so it was slightly nerve-wracking to me. Wayne played with the trumpets for a bit and Francisco played with us trombones for a bit. It was great to have such a wonderful opportunity to play for musically accomplished professionals.  

Sometimes one of the two would stop us in the middle of a song to help fix a line or some intonation. However, the big picture we learned form them is that we need to play music. That doesn't make sense to you, does it? Well, it means that just like any other form of art, we need to make it art. Sure we can play notes and rhythms on the paper, but what about articulation, dynamics, and just plain stage presence? 

Wayne Bergeron teaching us a thing or two

Francisco Torres is one of my favorite people of all time. He picked up his horn to show us something, and WOW! He had amazing tone quality and time. He played a solo on one of the tunes and blew our metaphorical socks off.  He inspired me to work even harder to practice and sound similar to him. 

Me and the cooliest: Francisco Torres

Later, we had a performance at the Anaheim Garden Walk. It was one of the most awkward performances I've ever had, mostly because it was at a shopping mall. Little Big Band still managed to draw a big audience, especially because of our rockin' tunes. 

When we got back to our hotel room, we we happy and tired. I consider it an honor to be able to play for Francisco and Wayne. But man, do they scare me. Everyone actually slept in our room tonight; the excitement from the day wore us out.

Day 4- Performance!

Because of some higher power, we managed to drag our tired bodies out of bed early in the morning to get ready for a performance at the Santa Ana Zoo. Those two hours of performing really seemed to go by fast. I just love it! I can't think of anything I've enjoyed more than seeing real-life princesses. Yet agin, the band had a fair size audience. Man, nobody can resist the tunes of Gordon Goodwin played by a ton of fourteen-year-olds.

You're never gonna guess what we did after that- more Disneyland! I decided I was destined to ride the Tower of Terror without getting scared. However, because I was scared, I managed to put it off till the end of the night. I got to ride Space Mountain(my new favorite!) and my old favorite, The Matterhorn. Splash Mountain, I have to say, with a boat full of kids who can sing in tune stuck in a tunnel.... it got pretty weird in there. 

No one wanted that night to end. Who would? It felt like the greatest time of my life. Up until now, it totally was. There's nothing I would trade for spending time with musicians, princess, bandmates, human-like mouses, or my best friend.  When we got back to the hotel last night, there was a gloomy sorrow floating in the air.

Day 5- Bus Ride...

There's' really not much I have to say here. We went home. Tears were shed. Tours are just fun, you know? That's all there is to it- fun. Performances, friends, great memories. This, being my first tour, with plenty more to come, will not be forgotten.

To Caroleine: You are the most amazing girl I've met. Each and everyday is a blast with you. I love you like the sister I've never had. Your personality is so eccentric and great just the way it is. What would I not give up to spend time with you every day? Please realize how talented you are, and how I am thankful to have met you.

August 17, 2015

The One Reason I Hate Summer

Everyone loves summer. Who wouldn't want a three-month break from pencils, books, and the teacher's dirty looks? Endless nights with your friends, sleeping until noon- it all sounds so great! Did I mention the part about no math? You can do whatever you want whenever you want, as long as your mom approves.

As summer comes around the corner at the end of every year, you must remember that the five classes you had with your best friend this year is not gauranteed. You must remember that more expectations are going to be put on you the next year simply because you're growing up. Especially, when things are just the way you like it, you know it's never going to last because school changes in a blink. Got a cool subsitute while your teacher is in the Bahamas? Yeah, not for long.

If you haven't noticed yet, I hate change. It has benefits, but it is not fun. The are good changes like going into an advanced math class, but what if you have to move away? Not to mention the part where you graduate from college, and your entire life up to that point pretty much gets thrown in a well. Hey, but a benefit is you don't have to ask for your mom's approval. I know life (in the emotional state) doesn't happen without change, but still. I hate it.

One change I just went through is performing in a trio rather than a big band. Man, was it rough. I was the only horn player there. Of course, it meant more eyes on me rather than 17 other people, but it was slightly nerve-wracking. Ryan, Nick, and I made up the trio with Ryan on bass and Nick on piano. We had two rehearsals before we were supposed to perform. We prepared about nine standards and decided to take really long solos on them. It went well, mostly because no one complained that we did something wrong.

Another change I'm going to have to deal with is leaving Little Big Band. The oldest allowed in the group are freshman, and I'm nearing the start of my sophomore year. I also have to part ways with my spot in Soul Research Foundation, because I would have to reaudition again, and auditions just never go well for me. A good change is that when I finish with Little Big Band, I get a spot in the Voodoo Orchestra. I've been wanting a spot in that band for about four months now, and I can't believe I made it.

Image courtesy of Salt Lake County Library

August 7, 2015


Imagine hot, fiery cement, blistering your feet. The cruel heat is continuing to rise, pushing the mercury past 101 degrees. The sun has not even hit the midday heat- it's only ten in the morning. But still you sit there, just waiting, because nothing can move you at this point. Suddenly, it fills your ears like a drum. Oh wait, it is a drum. It's Park City High School Marching Band!

A wild Barski has appeared! 
Image courtesy of Park City Photography

They're marching down the street, straight towards you. Is that Conga you hear? Left, right, left, right. Their robot feet roll towards you. Yet it still has not occurred to you to stand up, to move out of their way. And just like that, you're mere inches from a trombone, trumpet, saxophone player. The drumline thunders on the drums with mechanical movements. Just like that, they're gone, marching towards the end of the parade. 

We work hard to make it look easy, but in reality it's one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Its so hard, we have to exercise before we rehearse. But if we do it right, we can scare others away with our body carriage and our tremendously huge sound for and a thirty-six person band. Marching is currently my favorite way to perform. We get to march pop music that most people know today, and we get an amazing reaction out of the audience. This year, we are marching Conga, and a beautiful Forget Your Uptown Funk mash-up written by Bret Hughes. 

We have already marched most of the parades this year, being that it is way past the Fourth of July and most summer holidays and celebrations. My favorite performance is yet to come, though. During the Homecoming football game, we do a halftime show on the field. It makes the hard work worth it, even though marching ends for the year after that performance. This year, Jake is our drum major. That means he gets to lead the band and conduct us while marching. Drum majors are rather special, because not a lot of people can walk backwards for a long amount of time while conducting. Molly is our section leader, which means she is responsible for how we sound. She also gets to march center in our rank, which is pretty great.

Marching Band is a great way to spend time with your horn. The physical movement of you and your instrument mean that you can develop new ways of learning music, get better chops with increased endurance, and find better ways for your personal technical playing. Not only that, but it's just fun. Being in a parade and having people enjoy your music, no matter how bad, is a wonderful feeling.

On top of doing Marching Band, I have had the opportunity to join another band. Soul Research Foundation is another band under the Caleb Chapman Soundhouse. This band is not like anything I've played in before, mostly because I'm the only trombone. We also play different music than my norm, because I've never played a Stevie Wonder or Diana Ross tune. Even though the band is under Caleb Chapman's name, our producer is Evan Wharton. Bryan is in this band with me, which helps me feel less awkward. We also tour to Telluride Jazz Festival with a few other bands, which will be really exciting. Being the only trombone means I get to whale on most of the tunes, so let's hope it's not a disaster.

July 3, 2015

Hard Work Pays Off

Do you guys ever get that rush of relief and happiness, but at that same an ominous black pit develops in the bottom of your stomach as your eyes fill with tears? Do you ever feel like the happiest person in the world, and at the same time the most terrified you've ever been in your life? No, I'm not talking about roller coasters or haunted houses. I'm talking about that emotion you feel when you know your life could drastically change, and everything you've done to prevent that from happening will slip out from under your feet with the slightest hesitation.

Now, that may be a slight dramatization. One night, Caleb Chapman hosted yet another Awards Ceremony. However, this ceremony was the first one I've attended. The Awards Ceremony usually just congratulates musicians on their hard work during the year. Graduating seniors get awards, outstanding soloists get awards (Ahem, Bryan), and one lucky teacher is picked for an award for their dedicated approach to teaching music. My school music teacher, Mr. Taylor, was picked for that award a few years back.  All of the bands under Caleb Chapman's program played that night. Little Big Band got lucky and played two pieces. The Jazz Police was up first, and then we played Cry Me A River to support Jocie for her Downbeat vocal soloist award.

Little Big Band performing at the Ceremony

After everyone performed, we gathered on the stage for a large group photo. As soon as the camera flashed, I suddenly released how fast time goes. Some of the people I've played with this year- Amaya, Max, Tyler, they will all be going off to college. I won't be able to play with them for a while, maybe not until I'm off to college. What happens when we leave? I don't think much changes over the course of the year, but I don't have long until I graduate. Amaya and Max might have felt the same way until they walked across a stage in a cap and gown. But hey, with this time that we have left in high school, I'd much rather enjoy it.

The night after, we had our school's final concert of the year. I, stuck in Symphonic Band for one more performance, was sad to be performing because most of my friends did not make it into Wind Ensemble. However, the performance must go on, right? We played three tunes, and I bet you can guess what they were. Out last concert was our pop concert, where we play tunes from movies and art. Symphonic Band played Ashokan Farewell, The Incredibles, and Disney at the Movies. Trombones got to crank on The Incredibles, which of course was the best part of the song. Disney at the Movies, well, you can hear the magic happen yourself.

During that concert, a few students also received their band letter. I was one of the few freshmen to receive a first year letter, and it was awesome. Somehow, I have earned enough letter points to receive one. The letters were a great end to what is the beginning of my journey as a student muwsician. My year of hard practice and work finally paid off.