Last week we had our first “Zoom Rehearsal” of the Virtual Squawkestra. After some initial technical issues (and apologies to members who did not get the updated link in time) we were set up in our music rooms, studies and spare rooms with instruments at the ready. It required careful arrangement of device, music stand, instrument and self so that we could read our music, see and be seen by Kat.
It wasn’t the same as a “normal” Squawkestra rehearsal – and it was never going to be due to the limitations of video conferencing. So we experimented with different approaches; using Kat’s rehearsal videos, listening to other YouTube recordings of our pieces and Kat conducting “live”.
Generally we played together, with all but one player muted, hearing our own instrument and listening to another. It was great how we overcame initial shyness to play for the group, giving all the opportunity to hear each section’s part and learn how they fit with our own. Motivated to pick up sometimes neglected instruments, we are learning new ways to listen and practise our performance pieces.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Squawkestra rehearsal without a tea break, so we also had time for a shared tea, coffee (or something stronger?!) and a chat.
It was wonderful to connect again – playing individually, yet playing together.
Our next “Zoom Rehearsal” will be at the regular Squawkestra rehearsal date & time – 7pm April 30. The zoom link will be sent in the regular Squawkestra update email, and we hope to have more members join us.
Kat, our Musical Director and Conductor, has created more virtual rehearsal videos, now grouped in one place on our new Virtual Rehearsal page.
Consider downloading the video first instead of streaming online to prevent buffering delays at unfortunate places!
Please add a comment to help us refine future videos.
In these COVID-19 times music matters more than ever, and Squawkestra have a concert date on the 28th May. Whilst we may not be able to guarantee a traditional concert then, we are proceeding with our program and concert repertoire in new ways.
During our lockout and lockdown we want to continue to bring the music to you. Kat, our Musical Director and Conductor, and your committee has been busy with ideas to engage and inspire you and to encourage you and your instrument to play together.
Kat has made some practice videos in short excepts so that you can play along at rehearsal speed.
First, check out The Plan, where Kat introduces this new approach. Then pull out your Pastoral Symphony music and be prepared to practise bars 1 to the end of 36, and then bars 37 thru to 53. We intend to post further videos on a fortnightly basis, replacing face to face rehearsals.
After watching – and playing along – please comment on the page with your suggestions or questions so we can learn from each other and refine our virtual squawkestra techniques.
We are also looking outward beyond our members, recognising the particular hardships of the arts community. Working with local composers is something we would like to do, and we encourage all members of Squawkestra who compose or know of someone who could write for us to get in touch with Kat. Now is the time to dust off those half finished compositions.
We hope you will stay with us during this new phase as we seek to continue our music-making, Squawkestra-style.
As a result of the rapidly escalating health crisis with Covid-19 we have taken the decision to cancel rehearsals until it is safe to resume. We support social distancing in order to limit the spread of the virus in the community, and to assist our health workers and hospitals. This decision was confirmed for us with Darebin Council closing all senior citizens’ halls, making our rehearsal space unavailable.
We hope that Squawkestra members will continue to play, and hopefully there are some clever people amongst us who can devise ways of teaching or practising with our peers remotely or in small groups. We may be at a distance but let’s not be isolated.
We will advise on this website and the rehearsals events on our meetup page when it is once more possible for us to play together again.
It was wonderful to be playing as Squawkestra again! Returning members, some we hadn’t seen for a while, and new friends came together to make magnificent music together.
First up was a simple folk song designed to have us playing and listening for our group sound, rather than a group of individuals making sound. Then onto a piece to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and finally, some wizarding magic.
Our first rehearsal season is starting this week, where our focus will be on sectionals and getting to know our sound in instrumental groups.
In the interest of trying something new, Squawkestra will be trying Principal Players positions in our first season of rehearsals. A Principal Player in big important world orchestras are players who are highly proficient performers, who often take the lead parts or solos, who are called upon to tune up the orchestra, lead sectional rehearsals and lead advice to the section on fingering and phrasing, or sometimes lead the orchestra during rehearsals. Being that Squawkestra is a big important orchestra of the world, we should give it a go too!
If you’re willing to lead a sectional rehearsal, assist orchestra members and the conductor as required, can commit the attending all rehearsals during the first concert season (Feb 6 – May 28) and can meet on Feb 13, please complete the Principal Players – Expressions of Interest Form. We expect these roles can be rotated through interested orchestra members in future concert seasons.
First rehearsal is tomorrow, Thursday 6th February, at 7pm, Northcote Senior Citizens Centre 18A Bent St Northcote. See you there!
Last night, instead of the sweet tones of Squawkestra rehearsing, the sound of pages shuffling and mutterings of “L, M, N, O ….. P” could be heard from Northcote Senior Citizens Centre. Committee members and brave volunteers tackled the huge task of filing sheet music from members back into the library. In addition to last year’s pieces retrieved from across the orchestra, we had random sheets from pieces played from many years ago. All were sorted back into the work’s relevant section folder, then into the work’s hanging folder, to be catalogued and alphabetised for storage in the office cabinets. A major task with music for dozens of works! But “many hands make light work” and thanks to everyone involved, each sheet found a home.
Next week, Thursday 6th February, is our first rehearsal for 2020, and we can’t wait to get back into music making with Squawkestra at 7pm, Northcote Senior Citizens Centre 18A Bent St Northcote.
Our final event for the year, the Christmas Soiree and Party, is coming up soon on Thursday 12 December 2019.
To confirm your attendance, and to enjoy the delicious catering from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, please pay $25 into the Squawkestra bank account by Wednesday 4th December. Remember to include your name and instrument in the payment description!
Account name: SQUAWKESTRA INC.
Our AGM will be held in the break next rehearsal on the 14 November.
Presented will be last year’s AGM minutes, the Treasurer’s, President’s and Musical Director’s report. If there is any other business from members please let one of the committee know so it can be added to the agenda.
Please have your nominations ready for any of the positions or general committee as all positions will be declared vacant. If you have always wanted to contribute your energy and ideas to Squawkestra we’d love to have you involved.
Our Halloween soiree showcased the work of eight ensembles, several of which selected music on the “spooky” theme from the religious to the secular. It was also great to welcome several guests and Squawkestra alumni to our performance.
Listening to each soloist or ensemble was an opportunity to hear how much we are learning and improving. It is also an opportunity to give much positive feedback that is genuine and heartfelt. Each of us know how hard it is to find time to practise, to attend lessons and to get together with others to form an ensemble. Finally there is facing, and overcoming, stage nerves. But we did it!
It was a wonderful night with some memorable music-making.