The impending death of a community band

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by connloyalist, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. connloyalist

    connloyalist Pianissimo User

    May 1, 2006
    This topic is really just intended to share something with some folks who love playing the trumpet as well.

    I am a member of two different community bands (fortunately), in two different towns. I became a member of the second band in 2003, so just about 4 years ago (I have been with the other band for 27 years). I really liked the conductor and enjoyed playing there. Well, for various reasons the conductor and us each went our separate ways. We had job applications for a new conductor in November and three applicants were chosen to come and conduct for one evening each. After this the members voted (secret ballot) on their numbers 1, 2 and 3 choices. The guy I had in last place was voted in with a great majority of votes. I didn't like the guy (from the moment I saw him; happens sometimes, right?) but decided to give him a fair chance, at least a few months. He started just after christmas.

    Unrelated from the conductor thing we have lost some members in recent months for various reasons and are going to lose a few more (moving to the other side of the country, for example). So we don't have that many members to spare.

    Anyway, the behavior of this new conductor is, to me, really unacceptable. Especially last night. As it happened we had three people sitting in from my other band to fill some gaps for an upcoming concert. I spoke to them this evening and they said they were appalled at what this guy was saying. At this point I am very tempted to throw in the towell and leave. I like to be treated with respect, even if I am not having my day for whatever reason. Moreover, educationally insulting people and offering only negative criticism is counter productive: it makes people feel insecure causing them to play (even) worse.

    This new conductor is a trumpet player, specializing in conducting though. He is a very young guy with little experience.

    This band will be 105 years old in 2008, but the way it is going I don't think it (we) will make it. Sad. Six months ago it was such a nice band.

    Regards, Christine
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Is your band a town band -- anything like the Stadtkappellen in Germany? If so, town pride might be able to help your band from dying. Speak of course to other players, and get their opinions -- if enough people are concerned, the town might offer to buy the conductor out of his contract. If you have a Verein, talk to some of the officers, they'll hopefully have the best interests of the band at heart. If all else fails, follow your heart, and play where you are happy.
  3. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    This is sad to hear. I like Vulgano's last line. Follow your heart, and follow your conscience. This is, after all, a community band and you are all there of your free will. Unfortunately, I don't see much that you can do other than either hang on and hope he leaves or just leave. I don't know if talking to the other members and seeing how they feel after a rehearsal is over would do much other than turn into a gripe session.
  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    For the life of me, I will never understand rude treatment by conductors of people that are freely giving their time to make music.

    Well, fact is you don't treat people rudely, period Unless, of course, they break the "No yo momma's" rule.


    ROGERIO Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 30, 2004

    By "understanding" I'm certain you mean "accepting" (?). We all know why they are the way they are.

    To be sure not to hijack the topic... I too have experienced this with local conductors that have out stayed their welcome...

    But what I wanted to comment on is those human qualities that we so much need to accomplish our goals... egos, confidence, pride, perfection etc etc... What a lesson to learn that those same qualities unattended can turn us into little monsters. Consumed by them we loose sight of the relationship, the language and co-dependency we have with those around us (above us, below us). Especially making music...

    Someone recently posted some links to Leonard Bernstein conducting.... boy, he was a bear...

    I read once about the fragile balance of these qualities that can make us loved, liked, tolerated or hated. And how, sadly - the end result is usually in our control.

    Back to topic: Good luck Christine. There are some fine recommendations here... somehow, there has to be enough strength in numbers to move those boulders (conductors... or dead wood players)....
  6. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    Don't accept ridicule. Leave the band. When people ask you why you left tell them the truth but don't elaborate on it. This conductor will eventually be replaced and life will go on. He'll learn his lesson the hard way. He may become a better conductor after he is fired. Go back to the band when a new conductor comes in.

    The quality music will speak for the band.
  7. Siegtrmpt

    Siegtrmpt Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 21, 2005
    Is it possible the new guy is making changes that are actually positive but everyone is used to a more lax situation or lower standards? Musicians can be pretty sensitive when their skills are called into question. Consider taking some time off from the band for reflection rather than quitting altogether. If it turns out the guy is really a jerk then just seek out somewhere else to play. No need to "quit" and make a deal out of it that could reflect negatively on you.
  8. highbrass

    highbrass Pianissimo User

    Dec 31, 2005
    Honolulu, HI
    It is not easy to respond without knowing more about what has transpired, but this is strictly my opinion from a relational perspective. Has anyone actually sat down and talked to the conductor and get inside his head to know how he thinks? Like most of you, I have worked with several people who were considered "difficult" by others, but after getting to know these curmudgeons (mostly trumpet players and tyrannical bosses/directors), I find that they, like me, are human. Most are actually incredible founts of knowledge and real teddy bears at times. Many use a hard shell to protect themselves from others.

    Here is another thought: He is a very young guy with little experience. He may not be aware of how his behavior is being perceived by others. He is still testing his wings right now. When I look back to the first few years of my teaching career, I am incredibly astounded at how patient and understanding my older (and wiser) colleagues were (not to mention some of my poor students too).

    Most of us have started our careers as eager (or not) beavers who may have unknowingly stepped on some toes along the way. Here is your (or someone else's) opportunity in the band to not necessarily be the hero, but to become someone who can literally and figuratively create harmony in a situation deemed too difficult for others to deal with -- if you really think the band is a keeper. Isn't a "community" and "band" all about people working together? Hope everything works out for the best.


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