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TAKING OFF: Confessions of a Band Coach.
Welcome aboard, fasten your safety belts, and settle in… it looks to be a smooth flight. Flight attendants, prepare for take off.
Over the next four months, I will be reflecting on my work, both as a college educator at Visible Music College Chicago, and as a grad student through McNally Smith College of Music. It’s highly possible that the nerdery of my love for God, music, and higher education are all going to collide at some point within these writings for either your 1) enlightenment or 2) entertainment. Of course you are free to decide.
In August 2014, Visible Music College Chicago launched its inaugural year as satellite of our main campus in Memphis, TN. As we have pioneered a school this year with 15 students, and a handful of faculty, we have greatly benefited from our ability to remain flexible and innovative.
Last semester there were two bands assembled for academic credit, who rehearsed and performed throughout the semester. They also recorded an original Christmas EP, A Visible Christmas Vol.1. This recording was released at the Rock n Roll Christmas Show on December 7, 2014. At the concert, there were over 500 in attendance, and this was a brand new experience for many of our students. As an educator, these are the kinds of experiences I really enjoy.
In January 2015, we had some additions to our student body, so we reconfigured our bands. Now we have 3 bands, who my colleagues and I are working with to prepare them for two separate concerts over the semester, an original recording, and a two week tour in May to close off the school year. I am weekly rehearsing one of the groups, writing collaboratively some songs for their original EP, and participating in a steering team to help prepare the tour.
The May Tour will be kicked off with a major concert at Visible in Memphis on May 15, to help celebrate VMC’s 15 year anniversary. And from there, the May Tour is going to head back North. This will take the bands right through their home towns ranging as far south as Kentucky, and as far north as Wisconsin. Their final concert of the tour will be performed in Visible Chicago’s home town of Lansing, IL at the Historic Ford Hangar on Thursday May 28, 2015.
On the tour, the bands will make stops in both secular and sacred venues. So, with this dynamic, we are choosing songs very intentionally. The two concerts this semester will prepare each band for two 20 minute sets to perform on the May tour. The first of the two sets will be songs by current artists in the Christian or Inspirational pop genres. Some of the songs being prepared for their first set right now are “Where is the Love” as recorded by the Black Eyed Peas, “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood, and “Wake” by Hillsong Young and Free.
While the bands are preparing cover songs, we are also working towards recording an original EP. This EP looks to have 5 tracks of original music from songwriters on our campus. The writing for this project has already begun. What seems to be emerging so far, looks to be a congregational worship music album.
While the song lyrics, melodies, and chord progressions are still emerging, one of the songs I personally am writing for the project is focusing on God as our strength. Taken from Philippians 4:10-20, I really wanted to capture the idea that when we seek contentment in God, He gives us the strength we need.
Whatever we have
Wherever we are
When we have nothing
When we have everything
He gives the strength for everything
Now unto God forever we sing
All glory forever
All glory forever
All glory forever
All glory forever, Amen
We are looking to finish and nail down the songs for the EP in the next two weeks. Our main goal is to use March for tracking rehearsal, so we can be in the studio for tracking by April 1. Stay tuned for more to come on this.
Thanks for reading. That’s my story. For today. Peace.
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[…] is my second entry within my series of Confessions of a Band Coach. I spent most of my last entry in the series focusing on introducing how my grad school work through McNally Smith College of […]