Week 4… A week of changes!

Actually, every week has been full of changes. We’ve added more and more to the show every week, we’ve gone back and made adjustments to things every week, we’ve seen a variety of instructors in front of us every week… so yea, every week is a week of changes here at Blast! However, this week’s change came out of left field and impacted me a lot.

I found out this week that I will not be playing trumpet in the show when we go to Japan. In a strange turn of events, I’m actually going to be the conductor of the show. Those of you that know me know that this sent me through a series of very strong and contrasting emotions… At first I felt a flood of awe and pride wash over me. I was overwhelmed with excitement that I’d be trusted with such a position! Buuuuuut that feeling didn’t last very long… over the next 60 seconds the reality of what I’d been told started to hit me as I realized I wouldn’t be playing trumpet any more for this show AT ALL. I became very sad and disappointed, but continued to listen to how my new role would impact my future during this tour. After Jim (Mason) finished telling me the news, I asked to be excused from the table for a few minutes. He really couldn’t have done a better job telling us (there were me and the 4 others told that our roles were changing). He took us out to dinner, complimented us on all of our strengths, and explained to us how those strengths were going to be used to continue developing and progressing this show. I needed a minute to collect myself… as much as I was thrilled to be given such a huge responsibility and be trusted with it, I was upset to not be playing trumpet anymore. After 4 years of waving my arms in front of middle school band students and directing a drum corps I was REALLY looking forward to having my trumpet on my face again every day and just performing. Like I said, if you know me well you know how big of a deal it has been for me to be given the opportunity to play trumpet at Blast, and you can anticipate the disappointment I felt when I found out that wasn’t going to happen anymore. I’m happy to report, however, that I’m a week into the conducting gig and I’m having a GREAT time! It’s stressful, yes, but being in front of this cast of musicians and performers is so rewarding. AND they’re all being AMAZING in helping me adapt to my new role. Fortunately, since I’ve been playing trumpet, things like tempo adjustments and time signatures are already in my head, so I’ve just needed to work to put them into my hands and figure out the best way to convey it to the ensemble. Any time I’ve made a mistake the ensemble has recovered professionally and always been very reassuring about my conducting skills. Like I said in previous posts, the culture that exists here is really amazing and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

Before I move on to my next topic… here are some pics of me in the new gig!

Meanwhile, I’m trying to continue playing trumpet as much as possible…

Other things that have happened… It’s week FIVE. We are FOUR DAYS away from going home for two weeks before we depart for Japan. We did our first full run through TWO NIGHTS AGO, including the intro, new ending to the finale, and encore performance. It’s incredible how much material has been learned in such a short amount of time. In the past it has been faster to get the Blast shows on the floor because the show already existed, and the cast needed to just fit into a pre-existing template with some minor adjustments. This, on the other hand, has been created ALL from scratch. It’s been a pretty intense process, but one that I’m so glad I got to be a part of. I was a part of the ‘creative process’ back when Mix It Up started at Busch Gardens, and LEARNING a show and CREATING a show are definitely two different beasts. I feel fortunate to have been able to experience this AND to see it from so many different perspectives.

I also had the thought the other day… I’ve been waving my arms, helping Mark come up with a plan for rehearsals (Mark is my roommate who was appointed Music Manager, so he and I split a lot of the responsibilities that come with being a music director/conductor), and communicating with staff about my perception of different elements of the show… I had the thought that EVERYTHING I’ve done in my life up until now has prepared me for this moment. My experience waving my arms as drum major at UNC, my job as a middle school band director, running Carolina Gold, marching at Crown, all of it has prepared me for what I’m doing here, and I wouldn’t be as prepared for what I’m doing with Blast right now without any of these experiences. Like I said in one of my first posts… Blast has been a goal of mine for at least 10 years, and watching it all come together has been surreal. Even with all the chaos. I’ve had multiple out-of-body experiences where I see myself in the rehearsal hall conducting the ensemble and, in that moment, I can’t believe it’s real life. The same thing would happen when I was performing run throughs on trumpet. So many other scenarios COULD be my life right now… but I’m here, and I feel like it’s where I was always meant to be.

Okay, enough of that. It’s lunch time here, and I’m trying to savor all my favorite eating and coffee spots around the rehearsal site in the next four days before I go back home. I had my second round of Mas Tacos yesterday… I will visit there one more time before I fly home on Monday. After spending 3 weeks hanging out at the Barista Parlor I realized that Bongo is ACTUALLY my favorite coffee joint in town… so I’m literally going every day until I leave (and spending WAY too much money) to get my favorite drink. It’s called the Bollywood. I don’t typically like lattes, because I prefer the raw taste of coffee these days, but this latte has cardamom and ginger in it. It blows my mind. I’m going to miss it.

And, last but not least, a few rehearsal pictures. Have I mentioned how much I love this cast?

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This is #TEAMMASTACOS!
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ALSO! If you haven’t followed @blastontour on Instagram, do it now!!

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