Monday, September 24, 2018

The Role of the TRUMPET Within a Big Band

English: National Symphonic Band Trumpet secti...
National Symphonic Band Trumpet section rehearsing in the Asociacion Rosalia de Castro.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The trumpet has always been an integral part of the traditional big band, both as a lead instrument and as a soloist.  The section consists of four players, with the first chair being labeled the "lead" chair and the second part generally considered the "jazz" chair.  Although improvised solos can be played by any of the four players, the second trumpet is usually depended upon to cover the solos within the section when needed.

It is the "lead" trumpet that carries the melody over all other musicians during full band sections.   This important position carries quite a large responsibility, mainly because it is he/she who is called upon to play the highest notes within the ensemble sections.

Melodic and Harmonic Roles

In traditional big band repertoire, the trumpet section provides both melodic and harmonic roles.  Melodies can be played by one or up to all four players at one time. Melodic roles are often coupled with instruments of similar timbres, such as the alto saxophone.  As a melodic instrument, the trumpet is generally in the middle range when matched with other instruments.  The upper register is used for full ensemble sections where the lead player must carry the melody over the rest of the band.

When fulfilling a harmonic role, the section is usually voiced in either three or four distinct parts.  Since the trumpets are set in the upper register of the ensemble, they have the responsibility of covering the upper extensions of the given chord.  In harmonic roles, the section often extends the basic chord tones (i.e. root, 3rd, seventh) that are played by the trombone and saxophone sections.  These upper extensions often take the form of a simple triad when played alone, but create sophisticated extended chords when playing with saxophone and trombones.

Mutes and Utility Instruments

Modern trumpeters today are expected to own and carry a variety of mutes to alter the sound of the instrument.  In every trumpeter's bag are a straight mute, a cup mute, a harmon mute and plunger.  Each of these "tools" is designed to alter the color and sound of the instrument by bringing out low (cup and plunger) or high (straight and harmon) overtones.  The use of mutes can significantly alter the overall sound of the section with a wide variety of colors.  Gil Evans was one famous arranger that used muted trumpets extensively in his arrangements and compositions.

In addition, most professional trumpeters today own a flugelhorn.  This instrument looks like a large trumpet but sounds much more mellow and with a limited high range.  Flugelhorns are used primarily for melody, but can also be used as harmonic pads with the big band.  Modern writers such as Maria Schneider utilize flugelhorns in this role quite often

Famous Big Band Trumpeters and Sections

Trumpet players and big band trumpet sections can be found throughout the history of jazz.  Maynard Ferguson, for example, made his debut with the Stan Kenton Orchestra during the 1950s.  Maynard played lead trumpet and was featured as a high note virtuoso at a young age.  He later went on to lead his own big and small bands for more than half a century.  High note artists such as Stan Mark and Lynn Nicholson were members of famous Maynard Ferguson trumpet sections.

Bill Chase led one of the more famous trumpet sections in the 1960s with the Woody Herman orchestra.  Known for his high range, Bill Chase provided the high note excitement for the band. In 1974, Chase met an untimely death in a plane crash near a small airport in Minnesota, Among the most famous trumpet sections of all time might have been in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Cootie Williams and Cat Anderson filled soloist and high note roles, respectively, for Duke's band for many years.  Duke often wrote entire compositions to feature Cootie (Concerto for Cootie) on trumpet.

The trumpet will always play an integral role within the realm of big band jazz ensemble music.   Because of this, skilled lead players and gifted soloists will always be in demand in the jazz and commercial music industry.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Moving Commands - Fundamentals of MARCHING BAND Maneuvering

University of Wisconsin Marching Band executin...
University of Wisconsin Marching Band executing the Stop at the Top. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Before teaching moving commands, the band should be familiar with marching and executing stationary commands. An entire level of complexity is added when the band actually begins marching. These commands can only be executed while moving. They are presented in the order I teach them. There are many different ways to both teach and execute commands; I can only present what I know.

Marking Time
Today, most all bands use a low mark time. Much like a drag right, the toe remains planted on the ground, while the heel lifts up. In this case, the command is "mark time mark" and the response is "and one." The left heel lifts first two inches or more on the "and" beat and goes up on the "one" beat. This repeats for the right foot. Thus, in two counts both feet have moved up and down. Marking time only occurs when feet are together and shoes should rub against each other. Make sure to keep the upper body solid throughout this move.

Most high school Marching Bands now use the glide step as the method of choice when marching. Some bands still high step or double time, but that is pretty antiquated and rare, even though proper execution makes it neat. The glide step is synonymous with rolling the feet. Teaching just this concept should take a few hours.

The point is to take all of the wobbles out of the upper body when marching. This allows for the vibrato that occurs from the mouthpiece bouncing against the lips to be eliminated. Have the new marchers stick their left foot out with toes up as high as possible. Then, have them individually practice transferring their body weight from the left to the right foot. Start slowly sticking out one foot while the other rolls up onto the toe. Gradually increase the tempo.

Now that the new marchers can perform a glide step, it is important to cover a basic eight to five stride as well as cover points and dressing and covering ranks and files while marching.

Forward March
The most basic and essential step of the band, this step is what is practiced when learning to roll the feet. "Forward march" is the command and the response is "and one." Once the glide step is mastered, this command is easy. Marching always starts on the left foot and feet move one in front of the other. The step size should be eight steps per five yards or 22.5 inches per step. Feet should not lift off the ground, rather be pushed out from the body along the grass with as much force as possible. On beat eight, the shoelaces of the right foot should be in the middle of the yard line.

Backward March
Back marching is done from the standstill (lock, lift, step) or while changing direction (touch and go). The basic concept involves elevating the feet as high as possible. Keep toes planted on the ground, while the heels rise more than two inches from the ground. Move feet back so that each has its own "channel" and they do not cross each other. Slightly lift the foot off the ground for each step, but do not pick the foot up or bend the knees.

From the standstill, the command is "backward march" and the response is "lock, lift, step." On the "march" command of execution, the band says "lock" while stopping previous marking time or movement. During the first beat of the execution, the band says "lift" and elevates their heels as much as possible, while keeping toes planted. Finally, the first step occurs on the "step" beat, where the left foot pushes hardback from the lift position to take a large first step.

Transitioning between forward and backward marching is extremely difficult. One must still take a full last step with the right foot, keeping the shoelaces in the middle of the yard line. This is the "touch" response to the "backward march" command. The second beat is the "go" response and involves transferring weight from the right to the left foot and starting the back march with the left foot. The key is not to move the feet on the "touch and go" response. They should be in a good position from the eighth step of forwarding marching.

A slide is a version of forwarding marching (usually). The purpose is to keep the horns pointing forward to the audience while changing the direction of the feet. Slides can only be called with horns up or at attention. The command is either "right/left shift hut" or "right/left slide hut" and the response is "and one." Key to this move is planting the right foot on the fourth count of the command with the toe still pointed up and turning on count one. The left foot is the one that always moves, no matter what slide direction. A left slide is easier as the left foot simply executes a ninety-degree snap turn. After the command, the movement occurring before the slide continues. For right slides, the left foot must snap over the right foot.

In slides, the most difficult part is keeping "square." This means that the shoulders continue pointing completely parallel to the sideline as marching continues. Hips should move thirty degrees, the torso should move sixty degrees, and the shoulders complete the ninety-degree turn. Such a distribution will help keep slide position throughout the move. Be careful when calling slides, as they can get tricky. For example, you can back march in a slide; the feet simply change direction. More confusing, however, is executing another slide while already sliding. When in a left slide, calling a right slide returns the move to forward march. You cannot call a backward march during a slide and expect people to return to the direction of the horns and back up. Instead, marchers should reverse the direction of their feet. Calling a left slide while already in a left slide is just asking for an "as you were sir"! (the error command)

Flanks are simply snap turns. On the "right/left flank hut" command and "and one" response, the right foot plants on count four and the left foot initiates the turn to the right or left. Motion continues in the forward direction. Pivots occur on the ball of the right foot and weight immediately transfers to the left heel as the move is completed. The entire body turns in a flank and, thus, the horn is pointing in the direction of march. A right flank can be called to cancel a left flank. Multiple flanks can be called on top of each other; this is a difference from shifts. Because the body moves along with the horn, flanks can be repeatedly called without error.

A special kind of flank is a to the rear. The command is "to the rear hut" and the response is "and one." Instead of planting the right foot and turning ninety-degrees, the turn is 180 degrees. The left foot still is the one to complete the turn and it is executed to the left starting on count four with the right foot planting and finishing on count one with the turn. Motion continues in the forward direction after the turn. Be careful not to anticipate to the rear because it is a very quick turn.

Obliques are unpleasant and often overlooked, for few field shows include them. The command is "left/right oblique hut" and the response is "and one." Instead of turning the body ninety degrees as in a flank, one turns forty-five degrees using a pivot turn on the ball of the right foot. The right foot plants on count four of the command and the left foot execute a snap turn forty-five degrees to the right or left on count one. The challenge with obliques is not starting the command, but marching in the new direction. Since you are moving at a diagonal, the step size is twelve steps every five yards. You now dress down the diagonal and cover to the left and right. To get out of an oblique, the Drum Major can call another oblique that results in a forward march or flank. Back marching can be called when in an oblique, but you cannot go from forward march to a backward oblique in one command. A good exercise with obliques is to make a diamond or stop sign shape with the band. Forward eight left oblique eight, left shift, right back oblique, et cetera. Doing this exercise with horns playing a scale is a real challenge and improves marching greatly.

In Sum and Other
In terms of moving commands, these are the most important. There is an entire list of stationary commands in another article that the band should also master. The biggest challenge is to vary step sizes: 16-5, 12-5, 6-5, 5-5, 32-5. There are also some other terms for commands that may be useful. For example, "march" can be replaced with "move." I think this sounds a bit ridiculous, but so be it. Also, the Drum Major can call a "band port arms" or "band trail arms" to move horns up while moving. Then, of course, there is high mark time. For resources directly related to your band, ask a Drum Major or your director. Marching style tends to vary by region, so make sure that what you teach is applicable to your band. Also, consider attending a Drum Major camp. There you will learn some of these commands again as well as more useful teaching methods.
This list of commands is completely my own; I used no resources or Internet sources just my own knowledge to compile it.

    By William J O'Brochta
    William O'Brochta is a recipient of the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal for Distinguished Service to Conservation in the Boy Scouts of America and William T. Hornaday Badge. He is an Eagle Scout with nine Eagle palms and has earned sixty-five Merit Badges. William is currently an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 17 in Roanoke, Virginia working with Troop elections, new Scout advancement, and Eagle projects. He also serves as an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Council Conservation, Advancement, Eagle Board of Review, and Troop Committees. He has been involved in Scouting for more than ten years.
    William attends Patrick Henry High School and the Roanoke Valley Governor's School and is ranked first in his class of 500. Currently, he is working on a three-year environmental research project dealing with using plants to remove pesticides from the soil. He has presented this research at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting. A musician, he plays trumpet and serves as Drum Major for the Marching Band.
    Committed to community service, he has volunteered for six months for Habitat for Humanity in Hungary and helped Breakell, Inc. General Contractors achieve LEED Platinum energy efficiency certification.
    William can best be contacted through his LinkedIn page:
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Special Note to Band Directors About OBOE REEDS

English: Drawing of a double-reed mouthpiece f...
Drawing of a double-reed mouthpiece for an oboe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let it be known that I like band directors and that without mine long ago I would not be sitting here writing about what I know about the oboe.

He was (and probably still is) a wonderful man who encouraged me, taught me what he knew but then was humble enough to say that he could take me no further. He recommended a professional oboist in town so I could continue learning the things he could not teach me, and I am forever grateful.

So, you could say I have a great deal of respect for band directors.

I know they are teaching a lot of kids a lot of different instruments, and there is no way anybody can be an expert on all of them. I give them credit for trying!

But there's something that has been coming up a lot in my teaching and even when fielding reed questions that has been bothering me. And although I am sure band directors aren't the only ones to "blame," that's where I am starting to work towards a solution.

The problem seems to be in advising the young band oboists in the selection of oboe reeds. Now, many a band director has bought handmade oboe reeds from me, so there are exceptions.

But to the majority out there, do you know how much easier teaching the oboe would be if you handed out handmade oboe reeds instead of fibercane or even those awful profiled music-store reeds?
The reason is plain and simple.

These reeds do not encourage good habits and make the oboe difficult to play, more difficult than it ever needs to be.

The idea I keep hearing is that somehow, good reeds are reserved for good students... but that is completely wrong. A good, handmade oboe reed should be provided for every beginning oboist on their very first day of playing the oboe.

Talk to a professional oboist and see if they can work with you in making reeds that young students can handle, or consult a professional reedmaking company (yes, like MKL Reeds) that can work with these requests.

Although we need "labels" on reeds so that we all know what we are talking about, these labels are perhaps the least helpful part of all of this. Find a place that can make reeds for beginning students, and that should be pretty much all you need to say.

I am on my soapbox lately about all this "hard, medium hard, soft" stuff!! There is also this very large misconception out there that once a student has been playing for more than a year they need to "graduate" to a "harder" reed... and by the time they have been playing a while they are being handed these "hard" reeds they can't even play!

I just don't understand where this all came from, thinking that increased ability on the oboe somehow means you should make it harder for someone to actually play.

Now, it's not entirely the fault of a band director. And the situation is not exactly helped by machine-made reed manufacturers that are labeling their reeds in this way either.

Here's my take on it:
An oboist needs a reed he can play, NO EXCEPTIONS!!

Buy oboe reeds for your students that are handmade and are not classified in this way, unless you can talk to someone and explain what you need.

What a more advanced student needs in a reed is resistance, which is much different that hardness. So, stop handing them hard reeds once they pass the year mark, and especially when they seem like they are struggling.

Unless you can scrape these reeds down for them, they should not be encouraged. Better yet, get reeds from a professional oboist because these will make your job easier and it will make your students improve faster and probably enjoy playing a lot more.

I can't imagine how hard a job it is to be in your shoes, but think of the amazing start you can help give to each and every kid that chooses to play the oboe.

    By Maryn Leister
    Oboist and entrepreneur Maryn Leister helps beginner, intermediate and professional oboists become happier oboe players.
    She is an owner of the oboe learning company MKL Reeds and publisher of the Reed Report and Oboe Success Tips Newsletters. Each newsletter is full of straightforward tips on becoming a better oboe player and on taking control of your oboe reeds.
    Get your free subscription to the Reed Report newsletter and start your own journey towards a more rewarding oboe future right away. Sign-Up now and get your FREE Oboe Reed Tips

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Why Practice Drums With a METRONOME?

A Metronome, made in West Germany.A Metronome, made in West Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Practicing with a metronome will improve your time keeping dramatically! What... you say you can already keep time? Try to keep time with a metronome for about twenty seconds. It will show you how good you really can keep time. If you have never tried it...try it! You will see there is room for improvement.

In order to be an outstanding drummer you'll need to keep good time, and practicing with a metronome can help you do that. A metronome can improve your time keeping almost by magic. And, we know how important timekeeping is, particularly for a drummer.

You may wonder what the big deal is and think, "No one is gonna be able to distinguish any small changes in tempo in the middle of a song." Well, that may be true, but the major importance of keeping good time is at three different places in a song...

1) The times when you break away for a fill and come back to the original rhythm.
2) If the song contains pauses and later returns to the original rhythm.
3) If the song contains different tempos and returns to the original rhythm.

A metronome is such a vital tool in music education that most teachers of guitar, piano, and violin all utilize the power of metronomes within their lessons. How then, even more, important for the timekeeper of a band to practice with a metronome.

I can't stress enough the importance of practicing with a metronome. Once you go out and invest in one, start out by setting it at 80 beats per minute and play along with a standard 4/4 disco beat. This is a good place to begin. It will give you enough time between beats to concentrate and land your beat in sync with the beat of the metronome.

You will see that when you first start practicing with a metronome it can become very discouraging, but then you will eventually get the hang of it and keep pretty good time. Then it may become a little boring. It's at that point where you must challenging yourself a little bit more.

Adjust your metronome to a few more beats and increase your speed. Not so much where you will sacrifice your form, though. You don't want to become sloppy. Once you feel like you are really getting good at staying in sync with the metronome using a 4/4 beat and at various speeds you should begin to practice a variety of different rhythms, also at various speeds.

Practicing with a metronome will improve your drumming dramatically, so if you don't have one, get one. You will be amazed at how much it will increase your level of playing.
Copyright 2006 Daniel N Brown

The Author Dan Brown - ArticleSource: ArticleCity

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

MARIMBA - Music-Instruments of the World

Marimba - Music-Instruments of the World

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