Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Long time no post

OK well...

Sorry about that. Blogging got a bit away from me for the past... 3 months?! Oh my, where did that time go?

Oh well first things first



Totally worth it.

Marching Bands update -

Avon Grove - This was my first season teaching at Avon Grove High School and can safely say it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had teaching high school marching band. The kids were great and worked a lot harder than I anticipated. I think I WAY underwrote the drill difficulty for them, but they simply raised the bar for next year. This year's show was The Lion King. A safe show for a non-competition group to still entertain, but they really blew it out of the water. They still have a long way to go, but with some hard work and a harder show next year, the sky is the limit. Next year's show is Tommy (the rock opera by The Who) a la 1990 Blue Devils. I am VERY excited to do this show and think it offers a lot of possibilities visually. One of the best compliments I received from the director this year was that they had the opportunity as a staff to add visuals at holds and such. Apparently this was new to the program and they usually simply stood still like a typical football band. It may sound small, but it meant a lot to me that we were efficient enough and the drill was taught clear enough that we had time to do that. With this being my first time writing the drill, I learned a lot about the capabilities of the performers and staging and all that junk. Next year proves to be even better!

Take a look at our show - This was from the home football game vs. Coatesville.


video


West Chester East - East's show this year was West Side Story. It was a very well written show both musically and visually. I don't think we have ever been as on top of the design of the show as we were this year. Starting in April, we got together as a staff and worked our way through the show top to bottom and tried to design a successful show with was both entertaining and competitive. We thought we had succeeded. The judges thought otherwise. They didn't get it for most of the season. The drill was designed to portray the sharks (brass) and the jets (woodwinds) battling against each other until the climax of the show where they finally came together in unity and walked off the field together leaving a baritone soloist playing the tune to Somewhere. 9th out of 9. On the bright side, I have never taught a finer brass line. My Captain was excellent and took a lot of things upon himself to help the line succeed which made my job a lot easier. From day one, we tried to do everything from a championship approach and succeeded. We beat a lot of horn lines all year which were larger than us. Overall, screw the judges. I love those kids and they worked really hard. Too bad we are in a crappy circuit that doesn't recognize when one group truly beats another. I'm not saying we should have been 1st - but we definitely shouldn't have been last....

I don't have a video available from this yet, but I should soon. In the meantime, here's a few neat pics:

























Wedding Update - Heather and I are moving through the whole wedding planning thing quite nicely. We set the date (May 24, 2008) found the place (Downingtown Country Club) for both the ceremony and reception. Heather also bought a dress.... and then another dress when she liked one better. We found a photographer (Campli Photography) and did a session with him for engagement photos. I would LOVE to show you some of them, but can't copy them in here. SO, if you're interested go to www.campliphoto.com and click the link on the bottom which says "Portrait Proofs." Enter the session ID "Keefer" which is case sensitive and ignore all of the bad ones! We also found a florist compliments of Heather's Grandparents! We really have a lot done, but there's still so much to do. One major thing is a DJ, so if anyone has any suggestions please send them along!

That's about it for me. That's the major update, but hopefully it won't be another 3 months until you hear from me again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Strength

We laid Heather's Mom to rest on Monday to end the saga that has been this week and to start the healing process. It was a very difficult day, but I could not have been more proud of Heather for her strength all the way through the process. She even read a poem at the funeral service. As she was told by a number of people, "I never could have done that." I've played for funerals but never had to speak. In my opinion, speaking is a lot harder. Musically you can lose yourself a little bit and hide behind the stand to not see all the people looking at you but when its just you and a microphone in front of all of those people... yikes. I am so proud of her and her family for the strength and love they all gave each other through all of this. There aren't too many families like this one and I am very excited to become a part of it.

Tuesday was September 11th. Its been 6 years since that horrible day. It was a normal day just like any other. At least it was rainy for the morning. It allows you to feel the mood you want to feel on a day like that. I'm sitting here now watching World Trade Center for the first time. As much as I hate Nicholas Cage, this is pretty well done. The confusion and drama of the day seems to be captured in the way you thought it might actually have happened. Who really knows what it was like down at Ground Zero that day, but at least there is something to try and capture it.

Things are going pretty well otherwise. I am extremely proud of the kids at East for the way they have been working the past 2 weeks. It paid off on Friday night with a fantastic performance at the OJR football game. This week has been choppy with having off today for the Jewish holiday and then a game on Friday. Avon Grove had rehearsal on Tuesday. I swear those kids have zero energy to rehearse well by the time 6:30 rolls around. I was running around like a crazy person trying to keep their energy up and get a little bit of worth out of the 3 hour rehearsal. Its really a shame that they don't apply themselves because they could be a really decent group. They are at times and they play VERY well, but they don't apply themselves mentally or physically.

I leave you today with a video that was passed along to me by one of my students and is just simply awesome and rediculous. I'm a nerd, but I do so love DCI and Phantom Regiment.

Enjoy....

Friday, September 7, 2007

Difficult Week

Well, to say the least this has been a difficult week. Last Friday Heather and I received a call saying that her Mom was being taken to the hospital after being found unconscious. Neither one of us even panicked too much since her Mom was frequently in the hospital. We went to the East football game and out to eat with the staff and received another call from her Uncle this time saying we should get to Hershey. Without any further delay, we hurried out there to meet up with Heather's grandparents and see her Mom.

Bonnie Konek was still unconscious and would remain so. She passed on Tuesday morning after several days of fighting before being removed from the machines which were assisting her (as was her wishes.) After a difficult weekend of ups and downs and a lot of tears, Mom Bonnie could finally rest after years of pain and sickness. There was some upside to it after all. She can rest...

I have been debating with myself for several days as to if I would even post about this on here. As much as these blogs can be a forum for public opinion, they can also be a spot for venting and emotion. I chose to use this blog as the latter. As little as I knew Bonnie, she was always someone who had a great love for her children and was willing to welcome anyone into her life with open arms. She did this to me the moment Heather and I started dating. She was the first one we called when we got engaged and it hurts most that she will not be there to share in the events of our lives. Marriage, kids, all will be a little bit strange without Mom Bonnie there to share them with us.

Always in our hearts, never far away... we will miss you...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jimmy Kimmel Clarification

So, I really have been overwhelmed with the amount of coverage on the internet and other media outlets about Miss South Carolina and her rousing speech on Education and the lack of available maps in America. There have been a lot of interpretations of her speech, but I think Jimmy Kimmel really hit the nail on the head with his clarification of Miss South Carolina...



Everything else is going really well. I survived the 2 weeks of band camp insanity and so did most of the kids. Avon Grove was in the Poconos and it was awesome. We were totally secluded from the rest of the camp and could focus on the job at hand. We got all but 3 sets on the field marched and playing. Not too bad and about 15 sets ahead of last year apparently. We put the last 3 sets on last night at rehearsal back at school. It was quite an experience to go through the whole creative process and see people moving in dots instead of dots on the computer screen.

East's camp went well. Despite the crappy weather, we got all of the drill on the field. We are performing the first 3 songs tonight at the first football game. They are doing a really nice job. The brass line is already playing at the level they were at the end of last season. That excites me to see where they will go from here. There are still a couple of kids who are just not buying into it and aren't getting any better. I have to find a way to motivate them. Any suggestions?

The East football team is supposed to be in for a looong season this year. That does not excite me. They have a new coach for the first time in 20 some years and he has a very young group of starters. They are going to be a far cry from the playoff team of last year.

Plus , there hasn't been anyone close to Matt Schaub... Go Texans!

The hardest thing this time a year is to try and NOT get too excited about the Phillies. This is almost impossible to do after they completed a 4 game sweep against the Mets yesterday. One of the greatest games of the YEAR!! This weekend they are in Florida against the Marlins who always play them tough. 2 games out of both the division and wild card. Should be an exciting finish.... but I'm a realistic Philadelphia fan.... I won't get my hopes up TOO much.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Education Reform

I think we all need to get behind Miss South Carolina and her plan for reforming the American Educational System.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Shenanigans are everywhere

Shenanigan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A shenanigan is a deceitful confidence trick, or mischief causing discomfort or annoyance. The term is usually used in the plural, shenanigans. However, in some regions, shenanigans can merely refer to harmless mischievous play, especially by children.

The origin of the word is unknown but possibly originates from the Irish sionnachuighim, meaning "I play the fox."

Shenanigan or shenanigans can refer to:


There have been several shenanigans today.

This morning I woke up and went down to the Italian Market with my Dad and some other family. I've been there a bunch, but never after I got engaged. I think there is some kind of right of passage in my family that is never spoken of. Getting engaged/married is equal to your life ending. You are no longer allowed to have fun unless you are with the guys doing things like the Italian "Men's Night" at the Club or hanging out down at the market. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely excited about getting married. And I laugh at people saying "why would you do that?" But they keep coming.

Shenanigans - Marriage is gonna be pretty freakin sweet. If you're not happy, you probably are with the wrong person. Don't assume that I will be unhappy just because your life sucks.

After I got home, I worked on the Avon Grove show some more. I thought all I had to do was incorporate the color guard and take a couple of kids out of the drill who had dropped since I was given numbers. WRONG. I get an email from the percussion guy talking about all these changes and what the music is doing for his parts and about some rediculous drum rack that is being built. We're not the Blue Devils people, this is a shitty group with an even shittier drum line. There is no reason to go all out like this. Then he wants to put the pit on the active field instead of in the PIT.

Shenanigans - If you wanted all of this stuff in the show, you should have informed me about it 2 months ago when the chain of emails were going around about the drill and design. Trust me, I didn't exactly go all out in the writing. 1. It is my first full outdoor production and 2. THE GROUP ISN'T VERY GOOD!!!

Heather is away right now for her final trip with the family she is nannying for this summer. I know it may sound mushy or whatever, but I really miss her a lot. We can't talk much cause the crazy mom and kids keep her so busy. Plus she is out on Arizona and 3 hours behind. She is always my go to when things are stressful, so it has been a difficult week with no venting.

The Phillies have been fighting back this entire game tonight. It is now the bottom of the 9th with one on. Time to finish rooting.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Blog

Well, I realized today that I miss having a place to put my thoughts and feelings. I'm always reading my friend's blogs and thought this one would serve my purposes well.

Things always get busy for me this time of year, but this year is a little different. I am still teaching at West Chester East with the marching band. We are doing West Side Story as our theme this year. It promises to be a championship caliber show. I am confident with the group we have on paper plus the staff and the program we put together that we have the potential to be very successful this fall. It always boils down to the kids, their desire, and their commitment to excellence. They have always had the desire, but only time will tell if they want to take the next step toward success. I just know that every year at Finals we have kids disappointed that they didn't get a higher placement, but the next year rolls around and they are still making the same mistakes that we corrected all the previous year. This year I was also presented with my first opportunity to write drill for my own show. I was contacted by the director at Avon Grove High School about writing and teaching for their production of The Lion King. It was an opportunity which I could not turn down. They are strictly a football band, non-competition. And they're really not all that good. However, it provides me with the opportunity to go through the entire creative process on my own and write a show according to my own parameters and desires. It was quite an adventure, but I am really happy with what I put out. We start camp on Monday with new member basics and some sectional work and then go away to the Poconos for 4 days on Thursday.

Soooo the next few months promise to be interesting to say the least. I'm going to try to update this as I go with randomness, things in my life, and (of course) marching band.

Feel free to put any and all comments on here. Just like the nature of a blog, I am not here to censor your opinions and comments.

As always, Shenanigans Welcome!