Monday, October 23, 2023

Buried Treasures

I met with James and Sofia, my forever colleagues, at Martha Brothers on Church and Duncan St. While planning their upcoming concert, we wondered about our old pal, John Blakely, who lived just a block down the street. He was the one who put together the master recording from the kids’ Orff ensembles pieces we recorded at school. After an insane few weeks preparing a Spring Concert with kids from 1st through 8th grade, we then spent the next week recording their pieces. With the help of a professional parent sound man and his expensive microphones, a few mats to pretend to stop sound leaks and our normal music schedule that required us to get two or three takes of each piece within the 45 minute period, we spent a full week recording each class. 


We always thought we should do an entire CD of outtakes— the girl who fell off her stool while singing, the ball that slammed into the window of the music room, the fire drill right at a delicate moment. A perfect take and then one kid hits the wrong note at the end. Sneezes. Coughs. Blurted out comments. You know— kids.


Then the true insanity began as spent our weekend in the basement of John Blakeley’s home studio and decide which take to choose, often splicing two together. I’m talking about some 15 different groups of kids, each playing anywhere from one to four pieces. At least 8 hours a day, listening to take after take bleary-eared and refreshing ourselves with hot-and-sour soup from the nearby Eric’s restaurant. And in the midst of it all, we had to check the timings to see if it would fit on two CD’s, decide the order, start writing the liner notes, get art work for the liner notes and get them printed and then take the Master Tapes to be duplicated at another place and then make sure it was all done by the last day of school so we could sell them to the parents to recoup our expenses. So as we were saying goodbye to the kids for the summer, we were also out at carpool hawking the CD’s. “Get yours now! Perfect for listening on those long summer car trips!!” Honestly, I don’t know how we did it.

But did it we did. Starting in 1983 (1987 with John), ending in 2013 and at the end of the whole long run, we have 14 cassette tapes and 12 CD’s in our archives. Well over a thousand pieces arranged for Orff Ensemble and performed by real kids. Jazz, Classical, World music, original compositions, nursery rhyme arrangements, dance pieces, songs— it really is an extraordinary compilation.  Buried treasures waiting to be discovered by some ambitious young music teacher anxious to hear it all and put it more accessible form.


I thought to put the summary of all the recordings and pieces here, but all I can find on my desktop is the CD’s from 2000-2009. Could be tomorrow’s project to enter the rest. As if I didn’t have enough to do. Stay tuned.


Meanwhile, more on the visit with John in the next post,  

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