The future of the wind band.

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

  1. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Matt- Although you make some strong points, I feel I must disagree on several.

    First, I apologize on behalf of band directors that you had what seems to be a negative band experience in school. Use that to your benefit as a model of what NOT to do.

    I am a band director; but first and foremost in that role, I am an educator. I think most of us on this board would echo that sentiment.

    There is a good amount of literature by Barnes, McBeth, Holsinger, Rudin, Melillo et al that IS playable and accessible by school ensembles. Unfortunately, many directors fail to realize this. See the series "Teaching Music Through Performance", published by GIA through MENC. It is an invaluable source for all music educators of the band-type persuasion, and should be readily available to undergrads in the school library.

    A school band program does not exist to serve as an entertainment venue; it serves primarily to allow students to be involved actively in the music-making process in all of its many facets. As you develop into an educator and as an educator, your philosphy will sharpen, and may well evolve.
  2. uatrmpt

    uatrmpt Piano User

    Nov 29, 2003
    Hi tpter1,

    First off, I had a very good high school experience. We weren't playing Grade 6 literature, but we were pretty good. My opinions come from watching most of the bands in my area and quite a few across this state.

    After sitting through several days of state and district contests here in Alabama for the past couple of years, the majority of the bands were playing literature that, while appropriate for their playing level, was mostly bad literature. (This excludes the very few superior groups who were able to pull of The Pines of Rome, Carmina Burana, Elsa's Procession, El Camino Real, Blue Shades, etc.) Smith, Swearingen, McGinty, and who knows what else are the staple of the majority of bands in my state. If this isn't the case in New York, more power to those band directors - but I just don't think that's the case. The problem with the good pieces that are playable by lower leveled bands is that they are so overplayed. You go to contest and hear Havendance six times, Scootin' on the Hardrock three times, Where Never Lark nor Eagle Soared several times, etc. It appear that many band directors do not have the time or perhaps the knowledge of how to get their band to the next level and they rest on their laurels of mediocrity. And bands don't necessarily have to have all of their students taking private lessons to be a great band -- because it's been done in the past in rural areas where lessons unavailable. We need to go to the students first to solve the problem, then to the directors, then to the universities. There's too much time in education classes learning to how manage the class and too little time learning how to make music with a group. You're left to graps ahold of things through maybe one Teaching Instrumental Music or M&M class and through observing in the ensembles you play in; but, we all know it's a different beast when you're on the business end of the baton.

    There's a delicate balance to be made between education and entertainment and too often directors blur the lines too much and end up with a mess called edu-tainment. Education happens in the classroom, entertainment happens at the concert. If you try to educate an audience, you're going to lose that audience. You can't pander to them with cheese, but you've gotta program stuff they will come to hear IF you ever want to get past the point of having just parents and friends show up to a concert. On the flip side, you've gotta pick music that will technically push and develop the ensemble. However, I've noticed an odd correlation in music that bores the audience....the ensemble hardly ever enjoys it either and they don't put the maximum effort into the practice of it or the performance of it.
  3. bandman

    bandman Forte User

    Oct 16, 2004
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    Wow!!! I think it is time to take myself out of this thread after this post.

    Anne McGinty is one of my best friends, and Anne, John Edmondson (her Ex), Quincy Hilliard, and James Swearingen have all done commissions for my bands. They are in that category of over played composers you listed, and questioned the quality of their compositions at the same time.

    Of course Anne also did a commission for the United States Army Band and Chorus (“Hall Of Heroes"), and another one for the Bicentennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point entitled "To Keep Thine Honor Bright,†When the plane from Lockerby was shot down it was her that was called to do the commission of a memorial piece to honor the band students from New England that were killed that day. Maybe I should not let this out, but I know she is currently composing a piece commissioned for the "President's Own" USMC Band. It was Quincy Hilliard who did much of the original music for the Atlanta Olympics, and of course Swearingen has been commissioned by almost every major professional band in America, and by many throughout the world. Some how these people rose to the top of their profession and I will tell anyone that they write great music for the purposes of the music education community. Of course it is the opinion of some, that their music should never be played.

    My bands rose to the top, winning many national competitions over the years, but the thing that many of my students remembered the most was having famous composers and renowned directors come in and work with them. Some how I feel like I need to apologize again, this time for sharing my personal money to give gifts to my band program in the form of commissions by what I think were called substandard composers. Anne’s “Legend of the Eagle†and John’s “Where Eagles Soar†were the number one selling pieces for middle school bands two years in a row. They were both written on themes and extra-musical ideas I requested of the composers. Sorry for my attempt to do what was right for my students.

    By the way, much of the music of people like John Kinyon, Frank Erickson, James Ployhar, Anne McGinty, John Edmondson, James Swearingen, Acton Ostling, Eric Osterling, Quincy Hilliard, Bruce Pearson, Sandy Feldstein, John O’Reilly and others is written to emphasize skills learned in a certain section of a band method book. They compose with the musical idea of stressing skills learned at a certain time, while including the skills learned prior to that musical unit. This is why they write in musical series. The Beginning Band series, the Developing band series, the Young band series, the Concert band series, and the Symphonic Band Series. They all serve an educational purpose. It allows students to play music while continuing the music education process.

    One last comment -- it was a long way from Westwind Overture, to Allegheny Overture, to Hymn Song of Phillip Bliss. We made it one step at a time. In order to get to the harder music there was a lot of other music that was played.
  4. uatrmpt

    uatrmpt Piano User

    Nov 29, 2003
    With all due respect, go back and reread my post. Nowhere did I say the composers were substandard! No place at all! I did say that some of the literature was bad - and when you're whacking out as many pieces per year that Robert W. Smith is, not all of his pieces are as carefully crafted as, say, his Inferno.

    The main point of my post was this: The problem with the good pieces that are playable by lower leveled bands is that they are so overplayed.
    Of course these composers have good pieces, which is why they are overplayed. But why don't band directors stretch out and have commissions done, like you (and you're to be applauded for sacrificing for your students - you most definitely don't sound like the band directors I'm talking about).

    You were obviously able to make your band better. Why can't other bands? Some directors stay 20 years, some stay two, but their bands never get past grade 2. How come?
  5. bandman

    bandman Forte User

    Oct 16, 2004
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    I re-read your post and what I saw was this;

    "...the majority of the bands were playing literature that, while appropriate for their playing level, was mostly bad literature. ... Smith, Swearingen, McGinty, and who knows what else are the staple of the majority of bands in my state."

    I'm sorry if I read it wrong, but the way I read it was to include the music of people whom I respect (especially Anne) as being mostly bad music.

    I am a person who is faithful to the end when it comes to a friend, or a person I respect. Maybe I'm reading this with my emotions resting on my shoulder, but as I said, I consider Anne a very valued long time friend.

    I think the best thing for me is to make this my last post on this thread so you can get back to the topic. Thanks for trying to explain what you were trying to say.
  6. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.

    Say hi to Mr. G for me. We go back some!

    When I have more time I want to post on this. From my end of the food chain (middle school) through professional playing I see quite a bit that may shed light on the Wind Band potential in schools for the future.

    High Stakes Testing has changed everything, it's where so many resources go.

    And remember, you are on an Island at Dobson. Very few High School Wind Ensembles perform at your level.

    Thank Mr. G, they that came before him (to establish the program) and the excellent feeder schools that train some very fine students.

    One last thing about Mr. G.

    There are few band directors I can think of that could do the job Mr. G does at his level. :grouphug:
  7. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    This topic appears to have flowed into a discussion of the school system. I would like to present another approach or sub-topic to this and that is back to the application of wind band for the purposes of giving adults an outlet for their musical desires. Our community band makes fairly regular appearances at local schools... both junior and senior high. We do this because we believe that it is important to demonstrate to the kids that there really IS musical life after high school than just guitars and drums. We support the efforts of the school music teachers to maintain their music programs since we, as adults, recognize that there are the regularly cited benefits to music other than "learning for the sake of learning". The other reason we do it is encompassed in our band´s moto... "WE LOVE MUSIC!"

    The kids get to see professionals (and no-professionals) from all walks of life and careers VOLUNTEERING and cooperating as a team in producing music. We make a point of letting them know that it is not important that you study "music and only music" but that through music they are acquiring skills that may have the opportunity to fulfill some of their needs later on in life.

    As much as I respect orchestral players and enjoy their music, not everyone is suited to playing a stringed instrument. It would be interesting to see what proportion of schools with music programs have strings as compared with those who don´t! As those of us who play in full wind bands (or wind orchestras) know, there are some might fine adaptations of orchestral music for windband. There is also new music being written and/or arranged for wind band. Our band´s "McIntyre Ranch Country" is one example. Right now we are working up a new commission to honor Charlie Russel, the old cowboy artist and writer who did all of those boy´s Western Stories back in the 40´s and 50´s (premiere scheduled for Oct 22).

    Let us also not forget a different form of the wind band... the brass band. Some really superb music being written, arranged, and performed there too. New bands coming up all the time too... witness the North American Brass Band Championships as proof.

    I agree that the days of the "town band" appear to have been in decline... and more is the pity. However as long as there are people who WANT to perform and learn or rediscover old skills, to make new friendships, and to give happiness to others, there will be wind bands of one form or another.
  8. old geezer

    old geezer Pianissimo User

    Dec 26, 2004
    I have served on the board of two community bands and one of the bigger problems is money. It takes money to build a library, it takes money to buy insurance [yes,even a community band must carry insurance and the cost has more than doubled in the last three years], it cost to play concerts [the school charges to use the auditorium for concerts], and most places charge to use a place to rehearse[ we are lucky that the high school band director where we practice stood up to the school board and refused to charge us to practice there[ we will be out of a practice room when he retires]. With so many towns not being able to meet their budgets, the community band will be on their own when it comes to funding [any body want to buy a band turkey]. After each of our outdoor summer concerts several people would come up and say how much they enjoyed the concert but I seriously doubt if any of these same people would put their money where their mouth was when it comes to supporting such a program. old geezer Dave

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