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WMAS NEWS UPDATE
December 17, 2006

 

Notes from the President

Holiday Concert

“The WMAS concert should have been performed at the Kennedy Center,” an audience member remarked at the December 3 event. He is a relative of one of the church members and a music teacher in Pennsylvania. The 115 concert attendees seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. They sang along with some of the pieces, provided the percussion during “Jingle Bells” and, at the potluck following the concert, loaded their plates with the wonderful food prepared by WMAS members. We had plenty for everyone.

One attendee told me that the reason the concert was so much fun was that we obviously enjoyed performing for our audience. Congratulations to all who performed, and thank you to everyone who brought food and helped with decorations, cleanup, and setup. A special thanks goes to Joan and Dale for conducting and MC’ing the program for us.

We’re still figuring out the program for January but would like to set aside at least part of the evening for an open mic of winter and snow songs. At this point we don’t have any more workshops on our calendar and need some ideas. Workshops are very helpful to our members, and it’s nice to alternate educational programs with concerts/open mics. If anyone would like to help us out with programs, please let us know ASAP.

Jim Vandelly’s December Workshop

Jim Vandelly presented a great workshop on nuances at the December 12 meeting. Among other tips, he emphasized the importance of good bellows technique. (My father, who ran an accordion school for many years, agrees with Jim and always says that the bellows are the soul of the accordion.) Jim explained how the bellows control the accordion and express emotion. He also demonstrated several techniques to use on both the piano accordion and bayan. The most important thing about the program was that WMAS members were able to play a song with Jim and try out some of the concepts he had demonstrated. This is most useful as it gives a chance to all levels of players to sight-read, practice, and learn from others in a non-threatening atmosphere.

Following Jim’s workshop, Ken Kunec showed us his electronic equipment, including a drum machine, and demonstrated how he uses them to enhance his playing. He played the pieces he had planned to perform on rock ‘n’ roll night in November. (At the last minute, he wasn’t able to attend.)

Last but not least on the evening’s agenda was our beloved Clay Bobrowski, who played some music that he had chosen for its interesting bass patterns, and distributed copies. We don’t get to see Clay very often – he’s had some health problems – so this was a nice treat. See Clay’s note at the bottom of this update on the software he uses, Band in a Box.

Message from Joan Grauman

To everyone who joined the WMAS Christmas Orchestra:

We have been asked to play our Christmas selections at Dale Wise’s concert on
Wednesday (Oakton United Methodist Church, Hunter Mill Rd. and Rte. 123, Oakton, Va., December 20, at 8 pm). I hope all of you can join us! Please wear black pants and a festive shirt/top. (Accessories such as Rudolph noses and reindeer antlers are ok -- anything goes as long as you don’t block your neighbor’s view of the conductor!). WMAS’s own Jim Vandelly is this year’s guest artist. Please see the WMAS calendar for more info.

IMPORTANT: Mara has not seen her sheet music since our December 3 concert. It is in a white, 1-inch loose-leaf binder. Please check your white notebooks because Karen found one left behind! This one may be yours, and you may have accidentally picked up Mara’s. She has the WMAS and Potomac Ensemble Christmas music in there along with “Earth Angel” and many other holiday pieces (and no copies!). Thanks!

Possible New Meeting Location and Time

Currently the WMAS Executive Committee is looking for space where we can meet on Sunday afternoons. Many people complain about driving through rush-hour traffic on Tuesday evenings, and that time slot also makes it difficult for out-of-town friends to come and visit us, or play for us. Joan has been contacted by several groups that would like to come and perform for our group, but they cannot do it Tuesday night. So we are looking for a place that would let us hold our monthly meetings from about 3 to 6 pm. The English congregation at Sleepy Hollow has given us the ok, but we still have to talk with the Spanish congregation, which uses the church earlier Sunday afternoon.

Workshops

All of us on the Executive Committee have been extraordinarily busy this year, and at this point we have sort of run dry on ideas for programs. Theme nights are fun, but we would like to alternate them with workshops. Please let us know if you have any ideas.

Executive Committee

We are in need of some new faces to help us cover the following areas:

- a historian. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have someone talk to our new members as they join, write up a little blurb about them so we can get to know them better. Also, perhaps the historian could interview some of the other members.

- clean up and set up crew. It seems that every month the same people volunteer to set up and clean up. With a group like this we need to share the work or people will get burnt out. Please volunteer to help with this. Perhaps a volunteer could organize a signup sheet to share the work.

Message from Clay Bobrowski

This site on Band in a box (BIAB – see below) is where I got the simplification of “Paris Skies” and “La Vie En Rose” with the nice chord progressions (several progressions to choose from). They have packages for less than a $100. If you want to get into it, get their simplest package. Next year and every year they will offer an upgrade for maybe half price with a dozen extra things thrown in.

I read the manual on a flight from DC to Vegas. It is not hard to pick up and I am one that does not like PCs. It has many other features that I don't use, especially for midi because I have my own midi set up and don't want to spend the time learning a new one.

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