I was paired up with a young band of eight 4th, 5th and 6th graders who call themselves the No Pressure Band (which seems to have come from the parents…) for a two set gig at the Lehigh Valley Music Awards Show on Sunday, March 8th. It was someone’s brilliant idea to have the children’s performer play with children. I’m fine with that and look forward to the concept.
Today, I met with the eight kids in a suburban basement with a complete sound stage set up, banner-ready group of early middle school kids. They had obviously been working together for a while and had instrumentation worked out. It was a good mixture of kids, boys and girls,skills and supportive parents.
I was asked to support two songs that I was unfamiliar with (folkie that I am), so I looked them up on You Tube (the new way to learn tunes) this morning and worked them out on guitar and mandolin. I can digest these things pretty quickly and arrived almost ready to play.
Obviously, it would be good to show up on time (yup) and in tune (almost) and charts in hand (you bet).
The first tune was from Journey called ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, and it’s a good chord progression and one I can hold down a good rhythm part on. We did it a couple of times and it is pretty solid. I’m glad I can add some glue to the arrangement.
The second one is Little Talks from a new pop duo and it’s fun, too. I thought mandolin would work well but seemed too thin to be of use. We did it again with acoustic guitar and it was fatter. The kids have this one down fairly well but I chipped in with help on the ending, noting that a breath of silence before the big crescendo helps a lot. We tried it and it worked immediately to the surprise of some of the parents in the room. The drummer gets to hold the pause and cue the band for the ending. I also told the kids to turn to the drummer for a visual cue, and for cheap theatric’s sake, even if they are not playing the ending. They didn’t quite get that. Show time!
Alexa did great vocals on the first tune and played violin on the second one. Bryant showed good control on drums and pretty good meter, Carly held down a flawless electric bass and sang, too. Ella played keys, Grant, aka Jazzy Jeff soloed on trumpet on the last tune. I didn’t get the guitarist’s name, but he is a talent. He picked up the lead on the Journey tune and is a good rhythm player and vocalist, too. A couple of other kids chimed in on Sousaphone and clarinet, but I missed getting their names.
It was a great experience for us all. I got to ask questions about the arrangements, pinpoint several transitions that need work, play several sections many times, talked music, and, most importantly, played music together.
I had expectations of an older group of kids and was pleased to work with these kids. I handed out Playground CDs to one of the dads, so we’ll see what their reactions are to that.
This was another wonderful growth experience for me, and a great way to spend a President’s Day in music.