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On the Grid began when I discovered the Netflix documentary Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Prior to watching the series, I had no knowledge of F1 racing. I thought I knew two things: the cars travel at insane speeds, and the best driver typically wins. However, that latter is only partially true. In fact, much of the success—or lack thereof—can be attributed to the effort of the entire team. I like that about F1, and the same idea applies to many areas of our lives. As you might have guessed, I was correct about the speed. F1 cars routinely travel over 200 miles per hour, so buckle up, get on the grid, and be ready to go at lights out!
On the Grid begins and ends with a rush of excitement! The indicated tempo is just a starting point and can be adjusted either way as needed. The primary theme—think light, nervous energy—can be heard from the onset in the upper woodwinds and glockenspiel. Slow and steady work with the syncopated eighth notes will pay off; everyone plays them at least once in the piece.
A contrasting theme emerges in the third beat of measure 12. It’s lyrical in nature. Encourage the ensemble to listen and blend their sound. The upper extensions of the line should float above the foundation in the lower voices. While subtle, the half note takes the role of the primary pulse unit. Consider conducting these portions in two after the notes and rhythms are stable.
The music beginning on the third beat of measure 28 serves as a continuation to the previously mentioned lyrical theme. The style should be the same. What sets this music apart—and potentially makes it a bit more difficult—is the asymmetrical phrasing.
Measure 42 marks the beginning of the race to the ending, though it’s much more enjoyable if everyone gets there together!
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