Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

China Roundup

Well, we’re unwillingly back to school today. We have the Festival Concert on Wednesday with both HS Bands, the MS Band, the HS choirs, & SWECC’s band. Friday is State Large Group Contest.

No rest.

I just wanted to post some final observations.  All of the posts from China will be updated during the week as I am able to post pictures here. My phone seemed unwilling to cooperate in that department while we were there.

Our Guides

Our guides, handlers, caretakers, and I think we all hope that after awhile, friends, were absolutely fantastic.

FANTASTIC!

Bus 1 (my bus) had Zhudan, who went by the “American” name of Jessica. Bus 2 (Martz’s) had Mr. Le and Chatty Kathy.

All were well-versed in the English language and used it to give us every tidbit of information about the history and culture of every place we visited.

Simply put, they were amazing.

Drinks/Beverages/Water

Water from the tap is a no-no there…including for them. Their filtration/treatment facilities have not kept pace with the waste being produced from increased manufacturing. This means bottled water at all times.

As for meals, you were given one tiny juice glass of beverage as well as hot tea. A refill would cost you 5 Yuan (about $0.75). I started taking my own drink into the restaurants.

Food

Good. Plentiful. Not much really strange except for the one night with the entire chicken (head, feet, and everything else) cooked and on a plate. Do I need to go to a Chinese restaurant anytime soon?

No. And I mean that sincerely.

Every meal was served on a “lazy susan”. Well, every meal except for breakfast, which was buffet style.

The food got better as we went along. The worst meal, and by that I mean the only one that was less than good in my opinion, was the lunch on the first day. It was a buffet of questionable quality. I believe I referred to it as their version of a Hometown Buffet. I don’t think I was too far off the mark with that.

Hotels

The hotels were of high quality, although everyone preferred the newly built Grand Noble in Xi’an of the SuperHouse International in Beijing. The basic consensus was to take the showers in Beijing and put them in the Grand Noble’s building and rooms.

I concur wholeheartedly.

Whatever the preference, they were great places to stay…well, mainly crash into unconsciousness. We were two to a room where we would normally be four. Wake up calls were already established, hotel workers were helpful, and the buffet breakfasts were good to great.

Buses/Traffic

Crazy. The buses were your typical charter style buses. We weren’t ever on them for more than an hour. Those hours were interesting, though. From the  information being fed to us by our guides to the time spent watching the buses, cars, scooters, and bikes navigate the streets of Beijing and Xi’an, we were never left for entertainment.


Again, posts will be updated with pics as the week goes along.  If I think of more, I will update each post. You will know by the [Updated: Date] at the beginning of the section.

Until next time…

NYC & Carnegie Hall

I am sitting here in my living room trying to catch up on my DVR that is 94% full.  I am tired and have already blogged the trip for the parents.  I did not include all of the things I did and my personal impressions.  That is for here.  I am not going to do it all in one post.  Too much to read, too much to ride.

Thursday, April 9

The students started arriving to school early.  I think some even took the school bus with their luggage.  We rehearsed for about 1-1/2 hours.  Then the real “fun” began.  The 56-passenger Heartland bus arrived and needed to be loaded.  We were playing pieces that used a lot of percussion, so there was a lot of little stuff to load.  We loaded all of the cymbal & auxillary percussion stands into our quad case for “easy” transport.  Yeah.  It’s real easy to carry a 250-lb case of rattling metal.

1-1/2 hours later…

The bus was loaded with instruments, luggage, and kids.  It was time to go, and go we did.  The only problem on the bus ride was the movie selection.  These kids have really crappy movie taste.  Norbit?  Really?  I had to put a stop to that.

Then there was sleep.

Friday, April 10

We arrived at the hotel at about 11:30 a.m. Eastern.  The kids’ activities that morning were cut short of necessity.  Most just chose to explore Times Square.  I went and had lunch at an Italian restaurant about 3 blocks south of our hotel.  It was excellent.  We then went and viewed the lobby of the Chrysler Building.

The bus met us back at the Grand Hyatt.  I have to say, it is a lot easier to unload a bus than it is to load it.  We got the rooms assigned and everyone was off to their activities.

My activity?  Birdland.  That’s right.  A world famous jazz club watching and hearing guys I grew up listening to:  Joe Lovano, Hank Jones (NEA Jazz Master), George Mraz, & Paul Motian.  After taking care of everyone else’s issues (my job), I arrived there too late to see the Birdland Big Band.  I and my companians got a pop around the corner and then arrived early for the first set.  We had dinner.  A very good dinner, but dessert was the best.  Peach cobbler.  The best I have ever had.

Afterward, I tried taking a large group of kids to the Empire State Building for a midnight viewing of the city, but the top was obscured by clouds.  We had to postpone it to another evening.

Bedtime.

Saturday, April 11

A very full day.

First up was the American Museum of Natural History.  That’s right.  The museum from that Ben Stiller movie.  It was amazing.  We were to also stroll through Central Park, but it was raining heavily.  It gave us more time in the museum, so all was good.I was able to hit the Asian section, the dinosaur bones up on the top floor, and the crustacean exhibit with the the huge whale.

It was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for rehearsal.  That rehearsal started off really bad.  Nearly two days without rehearsal or even for the kids to practice.  By the end of the two hours they started to sound better.  Only started, though.

Once back at the hotel, we got ready for the evening.  For me, it consisted of a prix fixe restaurant and a Broadway show.  I have to show you the appetizer:

That’s right.  A sausage tree.  Then filet mignon and a mediocre dessert.  Avenue Q was the show for the evening  I would describe it as Seseme Street meets South Park meets Rent without all of the AIDs.  It was a laugh riot.

Finally by the second act, the headache I had been fighting all day.  At the beginning of the day, it felt like I had drank a bottle of tequila the night before.  I hadn’t.  That was a fun, but very rough day.

It was then time for bed, as it is now.

More tomorrow depending on Parker’s soccer tournament.

I wish I had time on my hands.

This is a great YouTube mashup of other YouTube videos.  I am reposting this from Patchchord.  I don’t know where he got it.

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