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Posts Tagged "Music"

Intersections of Art and Physics Flourish at CWRU

March 24, 2021
By Case Western Reserve University
Ryan Buechele '17 at Case Western Reserve University

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on the Case Western Reserve University website.  Please click here to read the entire story.

What do music theory and statistical mechanics have to do with each other? The connection may not seem obvious, but it’s exactly what Ryan Buechele is studying in his senior project.  “I love seeing ways where the tools of physics can be applied to solve problems in other fields like biology, economics, and, of course, music theory,” he says. A CWRU senior pursuing both a B.S. in physics and mathematics and a B.A. in music, Buechele is working with Associate Professor Jesse Berezovsky on a project combining the tools of statistical mechanics and music theory.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Marching safely through a pandemic

November 19, 2020
By Carl Soucek, Music Dept. Chair
The Marching Patriots present 2020 show "Alone"

In November of 2019, the music staff and design team began planning the Marching Patriots’ 2020 production, totally unaware of the global crisis that would occur months later and the impact it would have on our marching band season.

Even though this year was vastly different than I had hoped, we were still able to accomplish much and be proud of what we were able to do. 

-Frankie Kosir '21

Carroll High School Marching Band


We decided on the title Alone.  The idea was based on some inspiring source music by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Eric Carmen.  Our vision was to produce a competition show that would feature several soloists and use theatrical staging to isolate individuals from the rest of the group.

Fast-forward to March 13th, 2020 and this concept became quite ironic.

Would we be allowed to compete?  Would it be possible to get the students together for rehearsals?  What motivates the students to perform at their highest level?  The unknowns were overwhelming for students and staff alike, but collectively we stayed optimistic. 

"It was a great opportunity to enjoy time with people I care about while doing something I love,” Josie Rose '21 said.

Once July rolled around, it was clear that we would not be traveling, competing, or rehearsing in the same fashion that we traditionally had, but one thing became clear: the students were ready and willing to work.  As a staff, we had numerous conversations about our goals for the students.  Safety was our first priority.  Secondly, we agreed that every day together was a blessing and that we would do everything in our power to make the experience fun and memorable for the students.  The kids recognized that their efforts yielded rewards in different ways, through personal growth, appreciation of a creative outlet, and development of interpersonal relationships.

“The 2020 season was a much-needed break from isolation," Drum Major Audrey Kneer '21 said.  "It was different with no competitions to look forward to, but it meant that we were honing our skills for our own growth.  I’m grateful for the opportunity we had.”

Carroll High School Marching Band

The season pressed on without a competitive outlet, but the band and guard members gave it their all.  We were fortunate to have several unique performance opportunities for families and friends of the students.  Most importantly, the students pushed each other to perform every day to their fullest potential.  Despite being “Alone” throughout much of this school year, we are reminded of this inspiring quote by legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi:

“Individual commitment to a group effort: this is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Posted in Voices of Learning

Designing a successful and entertaining marching band show- it's a "Joyride"!

November 14, 2019
By Carl Soucek, Director of Bands


The Carroll High School Marching Patriots perform their 2019 competition show "JoyRide" during the preliminary round of the 2019 Mid States Band Association AAA Championships.  The piece features many familiar melodies -- how many can you name?

Many high school music programs purchase pre-packaged shows for their marching bands. There is usually only one pro to this: It’s less expensive than a custom design.  At Carroll, we design the marching band show uniquely to maximize its effectiveness and its educational value to the students. By writing the music myself, I can cater to the specific strengths of each student. Also, it’s rewarding to hear our awesome band members make my compositions come alive as we move through the season.

The design team consists of:

  • A music composer
  • A drill writer who writes the movements of the members that you see on the field
  • A visual designer who creates the shows imagery, including color guard uniforms, flags, and physical set design
  • An electronics sound designer who adds supplemental aural layers that add to the acoustic sounds of the band
  • A collaborative staff (Mr. Carl Soucek, Mr. Aaron West '07, and guard director, Ja’Malh Wallace) that work for months to produce the show to its peak effectiveness.

At Carroll, the design process is ongoing throughout the year.  We are already thinking about our potential show ideas for next year, though the current season is still active.  The staff meets regularly to brainstorm ideas that we would like to portray. Some years, ideas stem from a visual concept (like our 2016 show “Connect”, which used many LEDs). Other years, we might want to focus on a specific emotion or physical trait. It all depends on what comes to the table during our design meetings.

At Carroll, we design the marching band show uniquely to maximize its effectiveness and its educational value to the students.


Once we have an idea that we think will be exciting to explore, we develop a storyline for the show.  Here’s an example, using this year’s show, JoyRide:

  • Movement 1 portrays an excited person riding a roller coaster, and you can hear hints of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” weaved through the original music.
  • Movement 2 is all about a bike ride, featuring snippets of “Bicycle” by Queen
  • Movement 3 is about flying and soaring, featuring Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”
  • Movement 4 portrays a race car. Music hints at “Mario Kart” and other driving related songs. e culminate in a full-fledged “Ode to Joy” moment at the end.

We string the four movements together in a seamless production with exciting music and lots of coordination in the marching band and color guard.

When I write the music, I take many factors into consideration.  Will the music be exciting to the audience?  Is there a variety of styles and textures?  Are the students challenged, but able to perform at a high degree of excellence?  What will excite the audience (and judges) every 30-40 seconds during our show?  Will it be fun for the staff and students to put together?  As the season progresses, the staff continuously meets to find ways to enhance the music and drill. By the time we reach our last few performances, it’s all about the students’ emotional investment in the show!

Posted in Voices of Learning

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