future for band musicians?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by mimic, May 14, 2009.

  1. nickpasternack

    nickpasternack Pianissimo User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Rochester, NY
    I can only speak for my own school and town high school (Seton Hall Prep and Columbia H.S respectively). My school has 985 enrolled students. We are a senior high school and roughly 180 of our students from all four grades are in the band (i am a Junior). Our Auditorium seats roughly 600 and at our last concert, the house was packed. The same can be said of our theater productions. The same applies for the town highschool. They have a highly successful and well funded arts program. My school has somewhat of a reputation as a sports school, and although this may be true(We are the #1 ranked highschool baseball team in the nation for the past 10 years. Its a dynasty of sorts). I am happy to say that roughly half of the band is made up of athletes(myself included). I think that the lack of exposure to live music is to blame for the decline, at least at the highschool level, in participation. As far as playing gigs is concerned, i can say that the clubs that i play in are usually packed, but they are also generally small places. Other People whom i have played with say that the number of people coming to small performances and gigs is in decline.
    Just my take :play:
  2. RUFocused

    RUFocused Pianissimo User

    Apr 26, 2009
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    Does anyone know what happens when 4 "generations" of marching bands (450+ people) walk out onto a football field during the 3rd quarter and stand at attention? (Football players freaked, called us names, told us to leave, one got pushy, the school got fined) I do. .... My high school finally got the recital hall that had been "on the docket" for 12 years but never started. I had helped paint the out auditorium stage EVERY YEAR for 4 years.
    I'm not saying drastic measures like this need to be taken (not EXACTLY like this anyway) But the community got the point. That their were 450+ kids wanting better facilities, not a new professional turf-job on the FB field.
    BTW: The new performance hall look great. too bad I'm not in HS anymore.

  3. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    I too agree with Markie.

    Our local public schools have active committed people running their bands, often university students studying music education act as assistants for professional musicians who have the drive to "take up the cudgel".

    My eldest son (#1 Son) played tuba in a primary school band of 60 kids. At the Band Director's instigation the school bought a brand new Bb tuba for him to use at school - the BD then organised another tuba, a BBb for me to buy my young bloke for home. This school now has a band of over 90 musicians from a school population of 260, and only the kids from years 4, 5, and 6 participate - so 90 out of about 130 kids. (My boys have both finished their high school education - so we have had "band" for about 15 years non stop.) This particular BD also ran a community band that I still support as "remedial third trumpet" - he encouraged me as a comeback player and supported both my sons in their musical and academic education - he encouraged members of the community band to such an extent that one of the saxophonists, a music education major, from that band has now taken on the task of BD.

    This BD - the tuba bloke - took leave of absence from the education system to join a number of commercial organisations specialising in school band development, and his task was to tour the state showing schools how to develop a band program, how to encourage uni students and local professional musoes to step in and run those band programmes.

    Co-incidentally, he has recently married, in his late forties, to a woodwind player and produced two sons - one of whom is studying baritone/eupho. The first weekend in June every year, this same bloke organises a tour (by coach - owned by our band patron) to carry the band deep into the countryside to support a small country town festival.

    Now we have an entirely different box of skittles - the sax player BD recoginised that the concert band format was not attracting new members, because the progression at school was through the concert band (as the training band) to the stage band for more advanced players, and there was a perception that to join a community concert band was to step backwards musically. We have therefore morfed our community concert band into a stage band - lost a few woodwinds and french horns in the transformation (we were going to lose them anyhow due to them having other comittments) - and the band goes from strength to strength, although the average age is older.

    Are bands failing - not with this sort of comittment. Not with the support of the likes of Ed Wilson from the Daly-Wilson Big Band, Ed Wilson Wacky Band, and Wilson Publishing supporting the band progamme, not with Joan Thorp from Thorp Publishing running a number of the local high school bands and supporting them with band arrangements and BD duties, being a professional french horn player herself and being married to a working musician. I am in awe of such comittment. :worthy: :play: :thumbsup:
  4. MFfan

    MFfan Fortissimo User

    Sep 13, 2006
    Kalamazoo, Michigan
    That's the same with my groups here in Kalamazoo, which is an exeptionally strong Arts supporting town, but many sectors are suffering by lack of funding to continue at full strength with staff, programs, etc. We do have some very well endowed foundations that are really a blessing these days. Most of the members of our 100 piece band are well over 30 at the bottom and myself at 66 at the upper tier:-)We have suffered the death of several players over the last 5 yrs or so. I have been in the KCB 38yrs. There are a number of younger players in the sections, band directors , some college students, but we can't help but be concerne about all the grey hairs in the group.
    Fortunately the band is going very strong now and celebrates its 50 yr anniversary in 2011 with a commissioned composition by Samuel Hazo.

    The local high school bands are still supported and the Portage ones always have been particularily good. With Western Michigan and Kalamazoo College here and their fine programs, and the Kalamazoo Symphony, we have no shortage of fine entertainment choices here
  5. Rushtucky

    Rushtucky Pianissimo User

    Sep 15, 2008
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    This thread has, believe it or not, brought out a lot of "intelligent" discussion with all sectors of thought, which was my primary goal. There is much to be said about the decline of the Arts, which unfortunately has taken a hit with the economy.

    That said, I would like to keep seeing more comments on the status of school bands from your areas. Middle School on up. We have seen comments ranging from parents, directors to programs. For example, Mt. Vernon HS in Fortville IN had a world class Steel Drum Band. While my son was in HS, they took either first or second place every year in national competitions. The drums are now quiet...why...the HS principle did not support the program. Wow!

    We have now put the issues on the table. Let's take this thread one step further. What can be done to help some of the smaller or community school music programs? Most of us are either educators, semi-pro musicians or "damn good" trumpet players who for the most part are educated, intelligent and most of all are not shy about voicing opinions.

    Constructive ideas or possible solutions?
  6. mimic

    mimic Pianissimo User

    May 3, 2009
    I agree rushtucky. One solution would be to run for school board. My father was president of my school's board for 12 years and helped shape many programs. This would also put one in a position to review canidates for music director positions when they need filled. I really didn't know how people would respond to this thread when I started it but now am pleased with how the posters feel. I think there is a commonality of experiences pretty much across the board. For those that had praise for their school's music program I am envious. All, and I repeat all, of the local schools in my area have only a thin skin of a band left from even as little as 25 years ago. I feel bad for those students trying to excel in this field around here. Never a mention of any band events in the papers, sparsely attended, etc.
  7. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Mimic, It's not very difficult being on the School Board, I have served on the School Council (Aussie equivalent of School Board I guess) all the time my kids have been at school (twelve years). I have provided continuity of purpose and tried to guide the Council and the Principal gently along.

    I have outlasted a couple of Principals now and provide the semi-stable voice of Band reason and while I have managed to be an absolute "thorn in their side" or "pain in the ar*e" depending on whether you are a trumpet player of not, for all things Band related, I have also been able to guide the way my boys have received their education.

    From donations and fundraising we have provided a dedicated band room and attached music room, all the instruments, keyboards, full set of brass, woodwind, and percussion and financed the Band Director and her assistant. We have also raised funds for a dance and performance studio (because I think all the performing arts are important - no point having a band if nobody is gunna dance).

    Our latest achievement has been a school hall - in the pipeline since 1972 when the school was built - much political manouevering, cajoling, fund raising, stirring, abusing, and plain hard work have got us to the supply and construction stage of the school hall - full electronics, lighting, stage, sound system, and sprung floor - about $3,000,000 worth. Should be ready at just about the time my youngest finishes school in a couple of months - bugger. :oops: (Sorry, langauge).

    My kids are my life's work - if your kids are students at OUR school, then I will work for you too, but I would really like just a little help, please. Oh, and trumpet playing, why am I not so good? - Well, I've been a bit busy. ROFL

    Any of you retirees not too busy - want to get away from the missus - I have just the job(s) for you. ROFL

    Ohhh Rushtucky - I didn't mean to sound intelligent (Thinks: I guess he was talking about ALL of us?)
    Last edited: May 15, 2009
  8. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi Rushtucky,
    How to help solve this problem in the small communities?
    That's tough. Unfortunately organizational change usually will not take place without pain. What is pain? No its not gangland violence. Its the pain people suffer from being forced to change because the group holding the money and power requires it.

    Basically it will boil down to power. How do band parents garner enough power to effect change? If I were in a class room I would recommend reading The Prince and The Art of War and afterwards test them on it. However, that is theory and its time for application. I would recommend:
    1)Only vote for the candidates for Board of Education candidates who PLAYED IN THE BAND. That way there will be a group of people(who control the purse strings) that will be closer to understanding the importance of music in our schools.
    2)Band parents need to work closer with the band director to support the cause and when necessary, activate the necessary mechanisms for the director's resignation.
    The band parents need to learn "the power of the vote" "power of the purse" "power of personal involvement"
    Someone once said "everything is political". I'd say when dealing with people, that comment is hard to argue with.
    However, as stated above, There's usually no fundimental change in organizational structure without pain.
    Some things are worth the pain and this is one of them.
    Last edited: May 15, 2009
  9. Rushtucky

    Rushtucky Pianissimo User

    Sep 15, 2008
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Markie...well stated. As one of my economics professors once stated, 'The two things that effect change are: Pain and Money'.
  10. SonicBlast

    SonicBlast New Friend

    May 7, 2009
    Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
    You guys have neglected a key focus: the performers. Earlier on in this thread, someone said the kids are not interested anymore. I have seen this to be true in many cases. I'm a 16 year old sophomore in high school and I live in Saudi Arabia in an international compound. So i have seen every kind of people here, and we Americans do music right! but many kids with potential are not interested in band. you have to get people pumped about seeing the marching band (which we don't have here), get people excited to go to the band concert, and to get people to want to go see small ensembles play at other venues. If the kids don't want to play, no matter what the school board or parents do, there will be no music. Personally, in my compound and in the other outlying compounds, I am the only kid who wants to grow up to be a musician. Most want to be engineers. My parents support me in everything that I do, ESPECIALLY music. But this is not the case everywhere. Especially in Arab families, music is frowned upon. But if the kid wants it bad enough, he will work for it and get it. and that's what you have to do to keep the programs alive. The kids have to really want to play.

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