Friday, March 20, 2009

2009 Funk Band T's

Hey guys!

Recently after a long week-end of hard work recording we received our 2009 funk band t-shirts! But these t-shirts aren't just any old t-shirt, they're special. These t-shirts are made of either a hundred percent organic cotton or seventy percent bamboo and thirty percent organic cotton. They are seriously the softest, most comfortable shirts I have ever worn.

These environmentally friendly t-shirts support the funk band and our idea of Groove Green, which means to help save our environment from getting worse. Regular t-shirts are often made from polyester, which is made from oil. So pretty much at this moment, you are most likely wearing oil! So please, help us support the idea of Groove Green by purchasing one of our awesome t-shirts.

Look for any funk band member and ask us for more information about the t-shirt itself or buying one (or two!). Also, look for a notice to be posted in the school bulletin soon. Please, plan on spending some cash for a good cause!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Chilla...

Recently, Mr. Zorn told us about this thing called a chilla, which is an Indian tradition where a musician goes off to an isolated place to play music for 40 days straight without stopping. Then he had an idea that we should do a little mini chilla for one weekend. And during that chilla we would record all of the songs that are ready to be recorded. So we did Waiting on the World to Change, Play That Funky Music, Beautiful Day, All Along the Watchtower (Live!) and some kid's songs for Mr. Zorn's 2nd and 3rd graders. It was a really good experience. It was fun watching everyone play their parts and watch it all being put together like the pieces of a puzzle. We had our own little sections where we would practice our own parts, like up in the classroom. I was in the cafeteria and I set the drums up on the stage. It was so loud because the acoustics were really good - I had people on the other side of the street by the bus stop staring at the school!

When it was my turn to record, I kind of flew through it all at once 'cause it was just the same beat over and over again. I didn't get to put in that many fills because the vocals weren't recorded yet and my fills gotta follow the vocals. It was a good experience that I think every musician should try. I'm glad I got that experience.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recording & Performing

Hey Everyone...

We had a very productive week-end. We got pretty much everything recorded. My favorite song we recorded was Watchtower, but I also loved our versions of Beautiful Day and Waiting on the World to Change. I can't wait to hear the final mixes because at the moment we only have rough mixes. Hopefully we get to do another one of these sessions so we can record all of the new songs we are learning. I got a lot of practice done during the weekend. I think that the best part of our mini-chilla was watching everybody nail their parts for the recordings. I loved hearing the numerous solos we recorded.

Well, from here on out all we have to work toward is our Friday Funk on the Lawn shows and our Ala Moana performance. I hope that we can get enough practice in so our live versions are as good as the recordings we did. Getting the right tone for our instruments live will be another huge challenge for us. I worked out a lot of my settings during the chilla. I got the tones all set but the sound will be very different at Ala Moana. I am super excited for our performance. The chilla gave us a good idea of how we are capable of sounding. I think we definitely are going to learn a lot from our Friday Funk on the Lawn performances. There is really no way to simulate playing live so we are going to have to make some adjustments when we get down there.

The guitar sound running through the computer sounded so awesome through the recording headphones. I think that Micah deserves the biggest high five ever for his Watchtower solo. It's my favorite one. We did such a good job on that weekend and got our stuff, but you have to remember that the classical musicians (in India) do what we did at a higher level and for 40 DAYS. I don't think anyone that I know could handle something like that. I hope we get to have another recording date because we got so much done during this one.

I want to nail all my parts at our performance. Our Ala Moana performance will be the culmination of everything we have done during the year. With a lot more practice we could put on an amazing show. We have worked so hard toward this so there is no way we are going to be unprepared at the time. The Ala Moana performance last year was awesome and I was a spectator because I wasn't in the funk band yet. I think we have even more potential this year because we have a huge set list. I am really excited for the final mix of our recordings. Gotta go practice!

Groove Green,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2 Day Chilla

For those of you who may not know, a chilla is a musical retreat that musicians in India go on - they play music for 40 straight days and nights. They travel to a secluded place with basic necessities and start playing. Eventually, through lack of sleep and constant focus, they start to see visions as they play and since music and spirituality are very closely tied in Indian culture, those visions are very important.

So, inspired by the Indian chilla, the funk band decided to have a mini-chilla of our own. For 2 days, 12 hours each, we came to school with the intention of only focusing on our musicianship. We had our recording studio set up in the band room and practice spaces set up in Mr. Zorn's classroom. We even had some very interesting reading about listening, practicing and a book on the environment.

We had planned to record 7 songs from our repertoire and 5 or 6 songs for the elementary school's music program. I have to admit I had my doubts that we would get everything done. Last year during our 1 day of recording in 12 hours, we only recorded 3 songs with the whole band and 1 song with a couple of people.

However, I was pleasantly surprised on Sunday night when I realized that even through all our interruption and unexpected complications, we managed to get nearly everything we wanted to record.

I was also proud of my fellow band members. Each one has improved so much and they deserve recognition. Melissa's voice was beautiful and her guitar solo in All Along the Watchtower was amazing. Tem's solos get faster and more intricate by the day and yet they always fit into our songs. Max was able to sing on pitch and with volume and emotion, even though he had a sore throat and congestion. Micah was able to record most of his parts perfectly just one time through and he was able to focus and get most of his parts done in a couple of hours. However, Kule'a was the one who made me the most proud. He has come so far since the beginning of the year and played his parts so well. It was obvious he knew the forms and he even added fills we hadn't heard before.

So while we may not have had a perfect chilla, I came home on Sunday night feeling proud and excited to be a part of this year's funk band.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Chilla Sessions

Hey Funk Band Friends,

So... it is 5:25 Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting in the Lab School band room. Today, as well as yesterday, we are recording our songs. We have a total of seven songs that we are in the process of putting together and I'm praying that we get all of them done before 9 tonight. It's a stressful process, recording. Each one of us must play our parts for each song separately and it must be perfect! That's scary, because it seems like a second before your part is being recorded either your mind goes through panic or, if you're confident, you just jam through your part. It's quite complicated and that's not including all the singing to the songs - Max's lead and Micah's and my background/harmony singing.

I think recording the singing is the most fun. We turn off all the lights (because the lights make noise on the recordings) and we sing into the microphone. The room is almost completely dark and it's the trippiest thing ever.

After all that, we gotta edit and put all the songs together. It's a long and tedious process, so wish us luck! And don't worry, our awesome CD will be available very soon. So stay on top of it for future news!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Well-Rehearsed is VERY Important

To be well-rehearsed means that you have practiced so much that you know everything about what you are performing. It means you have formed good habits, and you don't have to think about what you're playing anymore. When you are well-rehearsed enough that you don't have to think about your part you can start to listen to the rest of the band and hear how each part fits together. Being able to play and listen to the rest of the band can help show you your proper purpose in the song.

If the whole band is well-rehearsed, then the performance comes off sounding professional and groovy - if the band doesn't have to worry about their own parts, they can just groove! And then the audience will feed off that energy and it will exponentially grow into a fantastic performance.

That's my theory anyway...


What the Funk Band Means to Me...

Hey guys...

I am just putting up another blog to say what's up and tell you my opinion about how great it is to be in the funk band. Actually, Mr. Zorn doesn't like to call it a class - rather, it is time for life and to express our feelings through music. This is the only class that I can jam and learn how to play different styles of music and also learn the theory of music. I get to play with friends who have the same passion for music as I have.

Students at UH Lab should take this option of joining our group because other high schools don't get the chance to have a course for just jamming to contemporary music. I really love this class and I know my other band mates love this band too.

I gotta go, so I'll talk to you later!

Your band mate,

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Our Sound System...

Now, I don't consider myself a particularly technologically advanced person; however, I do mostly understand our sound system. And for that I am proud.

But I think my knowledge of our sound board stems more from my observation skills rather than my knowledge of technology. I can memorize which buttons to press and the order of things to turn on. I can also easily remember which places to plug things into. The differently colored (and shaped) cords only help me in remembering.

That was my train of thought when I first started out. The more I use our PA the more I learn vocabulary. I learn why to use certain knobs or buttons or why not to. For example, I've learned how to turn up someone's volume in 3 different places. First, we have the pre-amp which is right below the mic inputs; then you have the "mix" levels, and finally there is the master volume level. Since I've started, I've learned that the mix levels are used to balance the singers' volumes because we all know that not everyone sings at the same decibels.

Last year during our recording session, I learned not only to record parts, but also many other important things. I learned how to cycle sections of music, to recognize a clip in volume, and that good food can a long way (wink wink, nudge nudge). Hopefully I will be able to remember all the buttons and choices on the recording program by our next session on March 7th and 8th.

Wish me luck,

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Energy of Music Performance...

Why do we perform?

An age old question that brews in the back of our mind. Through my life at least, I have been asking myself that question. Taking funk band as my elective class has given me the opportunity to slowly find the answer to my life long question.

What knowledge I have gained is that people are attracted to energy. Whether it be positive or negative energy people are drawn to it and, what's more, there are many forms of getting energy from outside sources. Music, no matter what kind, will give off a certain energy. The reason people are attracted to music is that they enjoy feeling the energy of the music running through their bodies. My theory on why people love live music and why it makes thousands of people flock to one certain area is that there are two exchanges of energy. With recorded music, there is only one flow of energy, which is to you from the source of the music. With the live music, the energy is exchanged between both the audience and the performers. The emotion and feeling of the music is given to the audience by the performers and the audience gives the energy back to the performers. That is why live music is loved by everyone - there is an exchange between everyone and everyone feels it.

Thanks for reading!

Music Practice...

Hi Everyone!

I've decided to write a little about my practice routine. My practice is essential if I want to build strong technique. I used to rarely ever work with a metronome, but now I realize that timing when playing fast is essential. I usually just use tremolo picking when playing fast but it makes your solos start to sound the same so it's best to make sure your picking stays in time.

I also think a good practice technique is to play the few bars you are working on, walk around the room for 5 minutes and then go back to what you were playing. That is a practice technique that I think helps me and I just wanted to share it with everyone. I have also learned to practice everything very slowly and later attempt to play it fast.

Just a few practice tips there. We need to practice more than ever now because we've applied to play at Ala Moana!

See you in and out of class,