The future of the wind band.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpet blower88, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. trumpet blower88

    trumpet blower88 Mezzo Piano User

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    I read a book recently, it was all about wind band. Every chapter was written by a differant composer of todays era. Each chapet had sub chapters, one of them was about the future of wind band. Most of the authors were very optimistic about the future of band, but David Holsingers point really stuck out in my mind and I must say I agree with it %100 even though I may get flamed on this forum by the fairly high number of orchestral players here, but I think that orchestra is liveing on it's past reputations. As Mr. Holsinger said, there's lots of new orchestral music being written every year, but it's rarely performed, and it's almost imposible to find recordings of it. Wind band is just full of potential that I really think will just explode in the next couple decades, where I really don't see symphony orchestra going anywhere except movie scores...


    What are your opinions on this?
     
  2. B15M

    B15M Forte User

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    I would love it if band took off but I don't think it's going to happen. I play in a band that is on the verge of becoming really good. Our audience gets bigger with every performance. The problem is that we play for free. If the band can make the leap to paying the players then we will really have something.

    On the other side:

    I play a lot of pops jobs with wind bands for the MPTF stuff. Our audience gets smaller with every concert. I'm not sure that this is what people want to hear.

    It will be interesting to see what happens.
     
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    In addressing the first post, what needs to happen for the windband to have a resurgence is any one of the following which have happened before:

    1) A strong personality (like Freddie Fenell of the past generation) to champion a recording which has some piece on it that captures the general public's ear with a great-sounding ensemble. In the 70's everyone went nuts over an album with the winds, percussion, and brass from the Cleveland Orchestra on Telarc. It was cleverly marketed. There was a warning label on it that said your speakers were in danger of being blown out because of a "new" technology.

    Everybody, musician and non-musician, went out, got one, and cranked their equipment in an effort to blow out their speakers. Band music was very popular at the time and the repertoire on the recording was a constant request made by students of their band directors to be programmed.

    2) If a Hollywood director decides that a windband is the right sound for the next blockbuster movie to be made, bands will experience a resurgence. If a Hollywood director decides to make a sensational movie about John Williams' life, the public will respond in a variety of ways not the least of which will be kids wanting to play whatever instrument is featured most (didn't he start as a trumpeter and switch to trombone?). Look at what happened to the study of Saxophone when Clinton first got into office. Kids all wanted to play it after his TV appearance (on Letterman?) playing sax. To bad Bill wasn't a violist, bassoonist, or bass player. Those instruments are in short supply perrenially.

    3) The vast majority, not a preponderance, of Band directors have to be people of great, not general, passion about educating. Several of the band directors on this board are and that's exactly what you need. Passion breeds enthusiasm, enthusiasm is contagious. You need band directors that will not give up, no matter what constraints are beset them. People with great imagination always find a way. I have known too many not to know this is true.

    I think the 52 week season may have actually hurt music education. How? Before the year-long season, orchestral musicians taught a whole lot more than they do today. They were avaialble for more solo appearances with local groups. It's difficult to have a symphony job and teach a full load (10-20 students) as many of our predecessors did. LOCAL artists playing with student groups is a relative rarity compared to days of the past. I did much more of that in Seattle than I do here. That was a 44 week orchestra back then.

    People need to see and hear it before they can be moved by it. Where are the non-keyboard band leaders that are in the public eye day-in and day-out? In other words, who is today's Doc Severinsen? There are too many cable channels competing for attention to be able to present an icon of wind music for the American public.

    The point is, it's not a problem that can be pointed to with one solution as many like to do. It's a jigsaw puzzle that needs careful, logical assembly. We each need to do our part vis-a-vis individual excellence that affects a greater whole.

    To the orchestral music point I have been hearing that for years (about twenty or so) so I'm not buying it anymore. Orchestras that are well-managed do just fine. Poorly-managed organizations fail.

    ML
     
  4. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    Just a short comment on this topic. I see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The big school systems where money is not a huge problem may continue to produce great bands, thus produce an audience for other bands (read: Pro bands). I see the smaller school systems with small schools doing away with bands thus taking away the music experience from many people.

    This country is so athletics crazy that many small communities are willing to sacrifice music and the arts in favor of putting more money into athletics. I love athletics, and I think they enrich our lives as an outlet, but they are not really something that we should consider a substitute for the arts and humanities.

    I know this is kind of off the topic, but you must educate people about a topic before they can appreciate the out comes from that same topic. It is unfortunate that in many communities they have no clue as to how a fine band/music program can enrich the lives of not only the students, but also the entire community. To many people the functional purposes for a band are to march in parades and provide entertainment at halftime during a football game. It's not their fault, they are just ignorant as to how music enhances our lives.

    I apologize for the fact that this post sounded like a political message. It was not intended to sound that way, but I just couldn’t figure out another way to express my feelings.
     
  5. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Bandman,

    For my part, I think you needen't feel the least bit apologetic because you simply speak the truth. We once were a nation that loved the sound of a band. It was a tradition that was with us in a big way from the middle of the 19th century.

    We've always been a melting pot since day one but we were a melting pot of people eager to assimililate to the inherent culture at large. We are now a culture that says tradition is flawed and it has been dispensed with at the cost of a rapidly newly-diluted culture. The immigrants of the last twenty years see no point in assimilation because it is drilled in that assimilation means giving up one's original cultural heritage. Of course that sort of thinking is nonsense but that's what has happened.

    Yeah, you're right... this could and likely will turn into a political discussion. Too bad.

    I just came from another site that gave notice about a spectacular radio program that features the Jazz at Lincoln Center weekly radio program. There's a perfect example of someone who is desperately trying to keep live music in an educational, free format in the public eye. I didn't even know this program was on the air!!! Twenty years ago it would have been one of the most talked about radio shows in America but the market is so diluted that it's hard to focus on if you even are lucky enough to know it's on. Wynton Marsalis is a godsend to music education.

    Everything has its saturation point and perhaps we'll see it with the reduction of thenumber of TV and radio programs available just as we've seen it with overly large, gas guzzling vehicles reacting to high oil prices. We saw it once before in the 70's and we're seeing it again for exactly the same reasons.

    So, that's why I'm so hopeful about a great many things. I believe in the recyclability of human endeavor. We just have to respect that thing called "time" and accept that things might not necessarily happen in ones own lifetime. That's a hard thing for most peoples egos to swallow.

    ML
     
  6. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

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    I think many band directors spend too much time in the band room. They have little repoire with parents, other teachers, and administrators. It's going to take some serious advocacy to keep music ed programs and the band directors will have to lead the way.

    If Clinton played viola or bassoon he wouldn't have been elected. Probably not nominated. (There's your political part) :roll:
     
  7. trumpet blower88

    trumpet blower88 Mezzo Piano User

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    Thank you all for your replies. The things that you guys have said have encouraged me to put more effort into my role in the leadership team for the music program at my school as the Public Relations Officer.

    I think Dobson's music program will stay strong for many years to come, our teachers and students have the will and desire to make music despite the financial challanges of the school. We've always been one of the top 5 marching bands in the state, and probly top one or two symphonic bands in the state even though we all play on "crappy school horns" or horns we buy for ourselves. So I'm really not to worried about my own school. But I feel the need, as Public Relations Officer, to get the word out about other band programs. I don't really know how much I can do with other schools though...

    So I've got myself quite a project on my hands I guess... This should be a fun year...
     
  8. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Exemplary attitude!

    ML
     
  9. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

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    Bandman- I've been giving this some thought for a while. Not all of my thoughts are 100% in order, but a few are. I think I agree with you. We both come at this from similar perspectives, I think, being both from small schools.

    To my opinion, there are a good many good composers of wind band music now writing, but there are still a few too many "cookie-cutters". You know who they are I'm sure. It is, I think, the fault of directors who program these "cookie-cutters" on their programs just so their trained puppies can jump through the ring of fire for Mommy and Daddy. (Sorry if that sounds a bit forward...I've seen it too many times).

    I have stated before (and still maintain) that our purpose is far different from that of professional organizations. Yet we still both have in common the desire, the need, the purpose, to bring to the public a greater aesthetic sense.

    Maybe some of the problem lies in our own need to seemingly constantly justify what we are doing. Everywhere I turn in professional journals are articles extolling the need for music education. But that is really preaching to the choir, is it not? Do English or science teachers constantly justify themselves? How about PE teachers? Are we really drawing attention to ourselves by constantly saying "We are equal?" Why is it that so many arts programs get cut or have to fend off cuts? I lost one staff position not too long ago; we are now severely shorthanded. One board member saw me recently, and said "We all hated to do that. We lost sleep; all of us." Well, then, why did you do it? "When we hired the last choral teacher (a real mistake, that one was) things fell apart so badly that it was easy to justify."

    But back to the topic...sorry for the left turn at Mozambique...I also agree with David Holsinger (who I also feel is an outstanding composer). The quality of literature now available is simply much better than when I was in school playing "60's Superhits"...

    The wind ensemble I play with is also gratis; and like you, B15, we are getting stronger with each season. A jump to be paid though might cause a rise in ticket prices that would close the doors for some of our audience members. (We currently donate our proceeds to charitible causes in the community, or simply save them to cover rental costs for music only available as rental). Maybe if there were more of these types of ensembles more readily available, the public tastes would be whetted and seeds would be laid for future audiences.
     
  10. uatrmpt

    uatrmpt Piano User

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    I think the problem with wind bands not being well known, or having their concerts poorly attended, is that the best literature is beyond the grasp of many high school bands. Composers like John Barnes, Nigel Clarke, Phillip Sparke, etc. are writing great stuff; but, I would say that a very large percentage of high school directors suck and high school bands suck (and that is my greatest fear for when I start teaching....being one of those directors with one of those programs). The universities are letting out substandard directors whose bands are confined to playing Robert W. Smith's "Generic Band Piece #142." To hear the good stuff, you have to go to a college wind ensemble concert (and some of those are suspect) or to an adult group (some of which are also suspect). People can't hear good literature in their community or the quality of performance is such that they don't want to invest their time and money into it. People may not be trained musicians, but they know when a concert is good or not, and they know if they are entertained. We face a three-fold task of improving the quality of band directors coming out of public universities (too much "education" influence, not enough practical band directing skills); improving the quality of our local bands; and, getting the good literature into the hands of the improved bands.
     

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