– Looking at the rehearsal schedule, I have to say that Taki-sensei gets work done. In western schools we usually are able to take band as an elective course. Looking at their schedule, they have practice every single day, including weekends. You can tell from this alone that Taki-sensei feels like they have a massive amount of work to do in order to get the music to where it needs to be. The days are demanding, but some of those weekend hours are just plain insane. It’s how you can tell he’s really going to try to get them through prefectural competitions.
– Speaking of prefectural competitions, in the states we usually do divisions by school districts, and each school within specific regions are allowed to participate in each of the festivals. While the path to glory isn’t as straightforward as it seemingly is in Japan, it’s a lot more open just due to the sheer size of the USA.
– This all being said, I really love that they outline how the progression of the competitions work. It’s totally different than anything i’ve beene exposed to. Given the nature of Japan and the way that it is laid out, it’s quite an efficient method for establishing a competition.
– Then BAM! Taki-sensei drops the bomb. You can see everyone’s demeanor change immediately, haha.
– Auditions are extremely important when it comes to ensembles that compete. Depending on the school you either audition for a normal chair placement (with everyone being allowed to play because it’s for fun), or you audition for chair placement and there are only a limited number of spots. The reasoning behind limiting spots on an instrument-by-instrument basis is because each piece of music is composed with a specific set of instrumentation.
– More often than not, most ensembles have too many players to effectively bring a piece to life per the composer/arranger’s wishes. In these cases, in bands that are just for fun or general community ensembles will just have everyone that’s in the ensemble play all of the parts, and will double instruments per part. So like, say the layout is 2 2 2 2 (2 horn (horn 1 and horn 2), 2 trumpet (same as horn), 2 trombone (same as horn), 2 tuba (same as horn or sometimes doubled)), they’ll balance it out best they can. Say you have five trumpet players, well then maybe a director would put two people on trumpet 1 and three people on trumpet 2 to balance the high and low frequencies to get a more solid sound from a section. The sky is the limit in terms of what composers will do.
– I’ve provided an example of an instrumentation page from one of my contest-winning wind ensemble pieces.
– The setup for the contest is pretty much a universal standard here. A required piece and then a piece of the ensemble’s choosing. In the USA, most competitions tend to require a march of some sort as the first piece and then anything goes for the second one. Sousa marches are most commonly chosen/required because despite being easy to perform, they are devilishly hard to master and nail all of the nuances perfectly. These traits make them ideal for competitions because nailing those nuances require a tremendous amount of skill and discipline from both conductor and ensemble, not to mention every judge is always intimately familiar with them.
– Showing that some people are going to be sitting out, and that this is all going to be skill-based is going to rightfully ruffle some feathers hardcore. And I have first-hand experience of being the underclassman who really pissed off his seniors by auditioning higher than them. The drama just is not pretty at all, haha. I’m pretty much expecting there to be some major BTFO moments and some confrontations coming up. If there are some solos, stuff will hit the fan even harder!
– I love Asuka’s dedication though. And all the alternate Sapphire-chans was hilarious lol. Dem tuba duets.
– Practicing everyday is important!
– I’m not familiar with Japanese band repertoire at all, so i’m going to assume these composers are real people, and probably compose awesome band pieces. Seeing Asuka’s enthusiasm makes me think of how I was at that age! I learned as much as I could about composers and the pieces we played. I’m going to probably do some heavy research through some of my conservatory contacts to get into contact with some composers in Japan and ask some more questions about their methods and compositions.
– Kumiko is kind of reciprocating what I mentioned earlier here; Taki-sensei is serious about this. And to think that the prefectural contest is only the first step! The opening fanfare from that recording sounded so awesome.
– The audition materials selection is also pretty by-the-books here too. For my orchestra auditions I would usually perform selections from each of the pieces we would be playing throughout the semester. Same goes for band too!
– That being said, all of these people are too nice! Writing in fingerings, playing the segments for the other players so they can hear how it’s supposed to go, and doing this all in a group. Where’s the throat-cutting!? (probably with the flutes and trumpets, where it always is if I had to take a guess)
– Hahaha, the look on their faces when they realize she doesn’t know how to empty the spit from the slides and how to clean them is priceless! Surprisingly the French Horn actually has the most maintenance of any brass instrument, because it has almost double the amount of removable parts compared to the rest of the brass family. Also, most of the time you will see french horn players physically rotate their instruments during a performance; this is all in the name of removing spit!
– Kumiko using that tube-snake to clean out the slide! They even have the way it coils up accurately drawn too. I love how they include the detail of her using a soft cloth to coat it. Because of the size of the tuba’s slides, this is a necessary measure to be able to ensure all sides of the slide are cleaned during this process.
– And yes, newbies will mess this process up. Often.
– Yay for Reina being a responsible instrument inventory manager!
– It’s nice to be able to hear the subtle differences between Reina and Kaori. The delicate way Reina approaches that first note is nice and delicate. Whereas Kaori uses more vibrato earlier with a kind of concrete start to her sound, Reina practically air-breathes into the note and maintains it so that as the sound tapers off the vibrato maintains the excitement of the phrase to lead into the second part of the phrase. Reina’s slurs and range changes are also much smoother than Kaori’s slurs and range changes. The same can be said about Reina’s tempo interpretation too. Where Kaori plays it more strictly and in-time, Reina’s is more beautiful because she accentuates the interesting parts of the phrases with a kind of cantando-style legato tonguing and maximizes the effectiveness of the audition environment by playing ad libitum, pushing and pulling ever so slightly. The differences here are ridiculously subtle, but they will all be things that Taki-sensei will hear and make his judgement on.
– Kaori sounds like she’s playing the part, where Reina sounds like she’s trying to bring the part to life.
– I legitimately felt scared (and more worried) for the tuba when Hazuki almost fell over when she put the soft-case on her back. I had the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach, because when something like this happens it’s pretty much the ultimate nightmare scenario. Also that soft-case for the tuba is so accurately drawn. Right down to the zipper placement and pouches for slide grease/rotor oil/valve oil/slide snake. Dear lord.
– Look at that sexy tuba reflection. They absolutely nailed the way reflections and light bounce of the curved shapes of the instruments. So nuanced and so beautiful.
– Also, I hope Hazuki doesn’t play that Tuba after eating the ice cream. She can ruin the tuba that way!!!
– Bariton saxophone… lol. BARITONE saxophone. If they spell out the “e” in saxophone, there’s no reason to leave out the “e” in baritone either, especially when that’s what denotes the register of the instrument! I was going to have the excuse of them just leaving the “e” out of the name because of how the Japanese language works, but since they correctly spell the work saxophone with the “e” in the name included, there’s no excuse here!
– Pain is pleasue when it comes to tubas. It’s funny how that each love something different about the Tuba. Goto is hilarious because he knows exactly how he feels, haha. “I don’t know why I love it, but I love it! There’s nothing good about it really, and the struggle is real, but it’s the best!”
– Kumiko’s sacfifice won’t be forgotten. *MGS_salute.gif* This is hilarious, and her body language and tone of voice says it all, haha. I’m losing it during this scene! Tuba-kun~
– Kumiko brings up some good points about not being able to play well, especially when compared to how you imagine yourself being able to play.
– Goto is right about tuba and tuba parts. Alone their stuff can be quite boring as far as ensemble pieces go. When you put them in an ensemble, they’re the glue that hold everything together and the foundation that everyone relies upon. The joys of playing in an ensemble are important to everyone. The sense of camaraderie is like a drug, and is what always keeps people coming back. It’s quite addicting and overall just really fun.’
– Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is perfect here. Seeing Hazuki finally get it was just amazingly done. You can see the moment in her eyes when she finally realizes what it feels like. It’s an incredible feeling and it makes you want to be good enough to be able to perform with the others. Amazing job establishing that concept in the material and executing it, and overall it just felt so natural. They really captured those feelings perfectly to the point that even I had a flashback to what that feeling felt like to me when I had that realization 20-ish years ago.
– Oh god another almost tuba-breaking crisis. I felt despair in the pit of my stomach as she started to fall, for real.
– This is such a nice ending. You can really feel her sense of longing to join in.
– Next episode I feel like stuff is going to go down! Auditions always bring out the worst in people, especially in high school! 😀
Overall, this episode was all about the dynamics of auditions and the concepts of how to ease a new player into an instrument and getting them to stick with it. It’s all so nuanced and elegantly done in this episode that it shows a major level of competence from Kyoani to really nail the level of realism and relationships between characters to tell a really compelling tale. It’s always just the right balance of personal relationships and professional commitments. It’s easy to see why this is the best show they’ve made, because the attention to detail in the relationships between characters, the instrument sections, the politics of band, and the way the visuals completely enhance these attributes is just frankly outstanding. I wish I could lend some of you the ability to watch and enjoy these episodes through me, haha. I feel like I can’t even begin to state how incredible this work is to me and how pitch-perfect they nail absolutely everything.
Last but not least, I just want to say that the attention to detail on the instruments still remains god-like all around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such painstaking attention to detail like this. To get all of those features correct all the time, and then to put them into motion while maintaining that standard of quality is nothing short of outstanding. Even the specific lighting and reflections for all of the brass instruments must have been extremely labor-intensive work. Maybe even a miracle really. Just thinking about how long it must have taken to do the monumental job of creating all of the cuts with the instruments in them and maintaining that quality absolutely blows my mind. The research and reference for this stuff alone must have taken a very long time. You can tell this is a massive labor of love from all of those involved.