Welcome to ASO Virtual Orchestra Project. All current and past members of ASO are invited to participate. In addition, we are inviting our friends who also play instruments to participate to help us achieve a full orchestra.
This is my first experience leading one of these, so please give me feedback and let me know if anything needs to be changed to make it better, or to just plain make it work. THANKS! Susan Bicknell, Librarian, All Seasons Orchestra firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-768-1975.
- If you intend to participate by submitting a video of yourself playing your part in Leroy Anderson’s Sandpaper Ballet, please register by sending an email to Susan at email@example.com stating what instrument you will play. If participation in this project is low, it may be possible for individuals to submit multiple videos playing different instruments. If you wish to submit more than one performance, please tell me which will be your primary performance. Any other videos will only be used if there are openings in the orchestra.
- Download the music for your part from the list below.
- Listen to the appropriate guide video (below). All of the audio tracks are identical. The video shows the sheet music for the indicated parts. Play along and learn your part until you are comfortable with having accomplished it. You should play the video at high definition (click HD in lower right of video window) and full screen in order to follow along on the sheet music.
- For the purpose of the guide videos, 2 measures have been added to the beginning of the score. The audio is played electronically by Finale in electronic instruments – and while it sounds a bit funky, it should serve well to guide you while you play your part. The first two measures are there to enable all the various recordings from many individuals to be synchronized. You will hear (and see) the first measure of 4 quarter notes for the bass drum and piccolo. The second measure has two quarter notes like this, and then two beats of rest before the piece actually starts. To synchronize us all, please “clap” on the fourth beat of the first measure. The virtual choirs all actually clap, of course, because singers do not need to have their hands ready to play an instrument. But for instrumentalists who will need to be ready to play on the actual first beat, you may need to improvise a “clap.” You could have someone else clap for you. Or you could tap the music stand with your bow, or slap your instrument just hard enough to make a crisp “clapping” sound. Whatever you choose to do, do it precisely and staccato on the fourth beat of the first measure. Saying the word “clap” will not be precise enough because it is too drawn out. If you need to use your voice, say, “Taa” loudly and clearly, and very short, with the “T” precisely where the clap should be. It is necessary for all players to record the piece from “clap” to end, even those players who have multi-measure rests. In order to keep all the parts synchronized, you must sit in the chair being recorded from beginning of the piece to the end. In this sense, it is like playing a concert.
- Practice recording yourself. The setup you will need is two smart devices and a set of headphones or earbuds. Set up one smart device to play the guide video through your headphones. Play along with the guide video while you record yourself on a second smart device. Record in MP4 format. Please record in landscape mode and perform your video in front of a plain background. Dress appropriately in concert dress. Please show your face and your instrument with your hands playing as appropriate. Most smart phones do MP4 automatically when you record video with them.
- Send me your video when you are satisfied you have done your best. The latest videos will be accepted is October 30, 2020. Submit only your single best effort. Video files are very large, so what you will probably do is send me a link to whatever cloud based storage album you have for videos on your phone. From the link I should be able to download your video to use.
- If you need technical assistance, call me at 707-768-1975. If all else fails, when you are ready, you can come to my house and use my setup to record. There is an instructional video located at the bottom of this page. It may be helpful in creating a setup that will work for you.
Sandpaper Ballet by Leroy Anderson – Sheet Music
Winds including Clarinets, Saxophones and Bassoons:
Winds including Piccolo, Flutes, and Oboes:
Strings and Percussion:
About the piece and technique:
Leroy Anderson (1908 – 1975), as most of you know, was a popular American composer who wrote light orchestral pieces most notably for the Boston Pops Orchestra. He wrote Sandpaper Ballet in 1954. This is a very light, fun piece reminiscent of the “soft shoe” dances of the Vaudevillian era. Soft shoe is a dance form that preceded tap dancing. It creates rhythms by tapping and sliding the feet, sometimes on a sandy stage floor to enhance the sound. Anderson recreates that sound using wooden blocks covered in sandpaper. The sandpaper block part of the orchestration could probably be “played” by a dancer. Any volunteers?
Anderson calls for three different sets of sandpaper: a pair of coarse sandpaper blocks, a pair of fine sandpaper blocks, and a coarse block rubbed against coarse sandpaper laid on a snare drum. He doesn’t say if the snare of the snare drum is to be on or off, but my guess is he wanted this part loud, so we are trying it with the snare on. Keep in mind that rubbing two pieces of sandpaper together yields a considerable fall-out of – you guessed it – sand. So, sandpaper blocks wear out fast, and there is considerable sweeping and vacuuming to do after a performance of this piece.
As you are learning your part, keep in mind that the rhythm, while light and quick, is also unrelenting to the end. It can never drag. Pay close attention to the dynamics. There are “call and answer” parts where the excitement is created by the contrast between the soft and the loud parts. There are surprising sfz notes and a surprise “pratfall” ending. Note to piccolo – the glissando at the end is written in your part but is not for you to play. Anderson actually intended it for the comic effect of a slide whistle. It is followed by a single boom from the bass drum and then the final two chords.
We have played several of Anderson’s pieces before – Phantom Regiment, Sleigh Ride, The Syncopated Clock, A Christmas Festival, Bugler’s Holiday, and The Waltzing Cat. They have been fun for the orchestra and for the audience. I hope you have fun participating in this virtual orchestra project.