Announcements

2018 ~ A NEW YEAR WITH TACO

2018 ~ A NEW YEAR WITH TACO

As we start our eighth year, we can think about our nostalgic beginnings in our living room and take pride in our growth as a group to currently established monthly music making sessions with upwards of 70 players each time. We have a large dedicated group of volunteers, including those who bring excellent appetizers! We have wonderful opportunities for networking leading to lots of musical connections. We have contributors and donors who have helped make the numbers work out monetarily.  As we’ve grown bigger, we don’t want to lose sight of the basic idea of our group. TACO = Having Fun Playing Music Together! The idea of monthly music making sessions where we can enjoy lots of great playable symphonic music is unique and we feel good that it has resonated with so many. We are working to make this year even more fun for all of our loyal musicians:  lots of great new music, including things like Take Five for orchestra; a viola love-fest in March; a couple of surprise guest conductors; a cookbook fundraiser in the works; and a summer Pop-Up orchestra event! Put these dates on your calendars for our winter and spring sessions: January 28, February 25, March 25, April 29, May 27, and June 24.  To join TACO, go to the Contact Page and send the director a...

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HOLIDAY SING-ALONG with TACO!

HOLIDAY SING-ALONG with TACO!

We host our annual Holiday Sing-Along following our rehearsal on Sunday, Nov. 26th. The community is invited to join us for this festive launch to the holiday season, from 4 to 5 pm, followed with cider and cookies. We’ll play medleys of Christmas carols, Hannukah tunes, including secular and popular favorites of the season. Join us for this FREE sing-along for all ages before the Parade of Lights in downtown Los Altos. After this session, our future sessions will also all be held at the Los Altos Youth Center (LAYC) on these dates:  WINTER 2018 SESSIONS: Sundays, January 28, February 25, and March 25, 2018 and SPRING 2018 SESSIONS: Sundays, April 29, May 27, and June 24, 2018 Join our Pop-Up Chorus of family and friends at our Holiday...

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Why sight-read once a month?

Why sight-read once a month?

Someone once told me that you couldn’t get grant money just to have fun. I’ve had to move beyond describing TACO as “fun” and actually describe what we do that is musically, intellectually and emotionally important. I know deeply there is enormous value in what we do by gathering to play music for the joy of making it together. I call that “fun!” I have struggled to define what is so important to me about that process. It’s easier to say what we don’t do and why. We don’t practice to perform. We don’t meet weekly. We don’t work our music over with a fine toothcomb. There is value in that process too, working on music with in-depth understanding and detail to play the best you can, and to eventually share it with an audience. On the other hand, TACO meets monthly, we play a lot of music, and we have a new set-list each time. Why do we do it? There’s the obvious social support and networking, learning to play with an ensemble, playing with family members, keeping up your instrument at least once a month, playing a second or third instrument, and more. But what’s the value in sight-reading versus performing? Sight-reading is a musical and technical skill that takes time and effort to master with lots of benefits. You learn to decode a piece of music on the spot, going through the challenging mental process and translating that to a physical one. You start with the composer and placement in history, which gives you hints about sound and style. You make note of the time signature and key signature, looking at the overall structure of the piece. You check for repeated patterns, in melody and harmony, looking for scales or arpeggios, paying attention to note values and patterns in the music. You find rhythmic problem areas and have to work them out mathematically, subdividing, in your head and body before you can play them. You are always on the look out for changes in speed, volume, and accidentals where individual notes change from the key signature. You have to breathe and stay relaxed, brush off mistakes, stay focused and stay on tempo. With the orchestra especially, deep in concentration, you have to keep going when you make a mistake, sometimes drop out, follow along, count, find a place to join again, get back on board. Sight-reading orchestral music is something you can only do with a lot of people playing a lot of instruments in a big space. It’s a hard, challenging mind and body game, satisfying when it all comes together, and very gratifying when you’ve stayed in the game! It is a practice in mindfulness followed by exhilaration. And, it is pure fun!...

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Orchestra Musician Body Warm-ups, Why not?

Orchestra Musician Body Warm-ups, Why not?

Whether you call yourself an athlete or you just occasionally go to the gym, most likely you do warm ups before you exercise. If you go on a run or a hike, you stretch and warm-up your legs before and after you go. If you don’t take the time to warm up your body before you physical exert yourself, you are more likely to get injured and suffer pain and cramps. Just as expected, if you sing in a chorus, physical warm-ups are a part of the preparation for singing. You stretch your head, neck, shoulders and arms. You warm up the muscles in your face, your jaw and your neck. And then you vocalize, which warms up your vocal chords and get your instrument in shape for singing. I’ve often wondered why we don’t do these physical preparations as instrumentalists. You go to orchestra rehearsal or gather to play chamber music for two or three hours at a time, and frequently afterwards people have lower back pain, wrist, shoulder and neck pain. Instrumentalists are always hurting themselves, complaining about sore necks, shoulders and wrists and hands, probably due to overuse and most likely exacerbated by not warming up the physical muscles involved in holding an instrument in position for hours. It’s an interesting thing to consider. I’ve often wondered why in our orchestra it feels so strange to even think about implementing a warm up. Everyone is sitting, warming up their instrument, their embochure, their strings, but not thinking about their physical beings without instruments and warming up those muscles first. Once seated, then musicians are holding instruments and it’d be awkward to say, put them down and let’s stretch. But maybe we need to do just that: have a period of warm ups before people ever take their seats with their instruments. Stretch necks and heads, shoulders and arms, hands, wrists and fingers, breathe deeply, do some back stretches and only then sit down with instrument in hand and actually start warming up the metals, woods, strings, reeds, embouchures and strings. Perhaps then we’d all be less sore and more able to play through a rehearsal without body pain. Maybe musicians would suffer fewer injuries and discomforts. Let’s test it out and try it at our next TACO...

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TACO Hosts Holiday Sing-Along

TACO Hosts Holiday Sing-Along

Another year ’round and it’s time again to welcome the holiday season! TACO will host a free community holiday sing-along the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Bring your friends and family for some fun singing. We’ll provide lyrics to sing along with the orchestra. Together we’ll play Christmas music, a new Hannukah medley, tunes from John Lennon and George Handel, and end with a rousing rendition of Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. All for fun and no singing experience needed! Here’s the flyer about the event. Please share it with your friends and family, your community and with anyone you know who likes to sing. We hope you’ll join us!In the meanwhile, have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Holiday Sing-Along...

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TACO Pop-Up Orchestra on the “Green” a Huge Success! Summer 2016

TACO Pop-Up Orchestra on the “Green” a Huge Success!    Summer 2016

A warm, sunny evening, children playing and people wandering the streets, bright umbrellas and colorful Adirondack chairs were the backdrop for the orchestra setting up on the green. August’s First Friday coincided with the closure of one block in downtown Los Altos, which was covered in astroturf. TACO was the first musical group to play on the green and what a fabulous event it was. Embracing low expectations, TACO defied the odds! We had 68 musicians show up to play and miraculously we had a well balanced orchestra. A saxophone solo and a trombone choral interlude were highlights. Show tunes, a couple of familiar classics, jazz and pop filled out our fun set-list. Laughter floating from the orchestra and the audience, chatting alternating with intent listening while we played, friends and family smiling and watching our focus were all part of the experience. A couple of earnest and accomplished youngsters joined their older relatives to play with us. Two very accomplished strangers, enticed by the “Pop-Up Orchestra” publicity posters, surprised us by showing up to play. And sight-reading together, after one rehearsal, was fun for all. Thanks to the Los Altos Community Foundation and their organizing committees for First Friday and 3SG (Third Street Green), for hosting our TACO Pop-Up Orchestra! We had a wonderful time. Our next TACO gathering will kick-off our Fall season. We meet September 25th, October 30th, and November 27th. Sign up through our Contact form on this website. Join us for TACO music making...

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