I’ve been spending some time with a few of these guys recently. I was approached to help them with their ensemble piece for a competition. I like a community project and especially one with young people and so I accepted.
We had a group of five teenagers and they chose three songs to perform as their ensemble piece. They didn’t choose easy stuff…. oh no…. and with singers, a keyboard, a bass, electric guitar, ukulele, trumpet and drums they were ready to start. They worked so hard in between rehearsals with me and I wondered what I could add….. it was performance. Standing there singing and playing was one thing, but presenting a cohesive ‘group’ playing all together was something else – and this is what we worked on.
When any group performs together, and audience expects to see and feel a sense of connection between the people ‘on stage’ and from that becomes the connection with the audience. Only then can a performance actually create that essential emotional link. I challenged the ensemble to look at each other, to smile at each other, to connect with each other and to play ‘together’. At first this was a tricky thing for them – it is for many groups. We started by moving their kit closer together reducing the actual physical space between them. As they grew in confidence in their playing (they rehearsed LOADS) they felt able to do this more, we even got a few wiggly dance moves going! I altered some parts, talked about microphone technique and taught a bit of harmony – and after months of their own practice and four sessions with me, they were ready to go.
I had a real sense of pride and achievement as they WON The South and East Midlands Wing Ensemble competition! Their hard work and determination really paid off! This now means that they go forward as the Wing Representatives (of the 28 squadrons in the wing) in the Regional Competition later in the year.
I loved working with these guys!