You Never Hear This…

As a band conductor, I’m thankful for all the wonderful opportunities that this genre has provided. The love of “musicing“, a term used by David Elliot in Music Matters, has affected almost every aspect of my life.  I’ll never forget the details of my beginner year in band.  Mr. Robbins was so passionate about his love for music making it was infectious. I couldn’t help but think, “wow, this is awesome, I want to do this for the rest of my life.”  Almost 30 years and three degrees later, here I am.

Observing rehearsals and performances is something we all do often.  It’s a terrific way to grow and solidify philosophies both in terms and teaching and performing.  As a student, teacher, student, teacher, student, now teacher again, I’ve often wondered why I seem to never hear certain comments made about an ensemble or their conductor.  So, is it my perception that people never say these things or is it a reality? For example,

1.  “The ensemble plays too soft.”

2.  “The ensemble plays too much attention to articulation variety.”

3.  “The conductor gives too much of shapes and style and not enough time.”

4.  “The ensemble plays so well in tune that you can hear all the overtones.”

5.  “The ensemble moves and communicates too much through movement and eye contact.”

6.  “The conductor takes too many risks with adventurous programming.”

7.  “The ensemble plays with too much attention to phrase shapes.”

8. “The ensemble blends so well that individuals are heard only during solo or soli passages.”

9.  “The ensemble plays too emotion.”

10.  “The conductor too often serves as the conduit for ALL musical specifics versus visually providing a description of the overall musical message.”

To clarify, we’ve all heard performances or rehearsals that stop us dead in our tracks and cause us to say, “WOW, that ensemble really “insert line from above.”  THOSE are the ensembles and conductors that inspire us to become better at what we do.  So, how often do you hear these observations made?

A Stick With a Handle

Sometimes you just need to share a great review.  We all do it from time to time, perhaps it’s a new product, a restaurant, a service, a destination or a new recording.  This post is one of these “shout-outs.”

I’m currently finishing up year three of supplying my conducting students with batons made from Chris Blount at Custom Batons.  And simply put, it’s professionalism like this that make all the difference in the world.  Before I share about this years ordering process, here is some background.  As a high school teacher in Charleston (SC), I was fortunate to work with Bob Reynolds at a summer conducting workshop. (This was before my time studying with him at Michigan.)  I was in the market for some new batons and he recommended a baton maker named Charles Olson.  I contacted Charles and sent him a copy of my hand print, the length I was looking for, the type wood I preferred and some specific desires in terms of materials, i.e. cork and neoprene.  What I received in the mail were by far the finest batons I’ve ever owned. Since that day, it’s all I use and is something that I appreciate each time I step on the podium.

Fast forward a few years later and as a teacher I connected with Chris Blout who had taken over the ownership and responsibility of Custom Batons.  Each year Chris has been amazing about providing my students with the finest batons of all shapes and sizes.  The order process has gotten easier each year, even to the point that this year, they purchase via website, making it easier to deal with from a teaching/accounting standpoint. Simply put, I recommend Chris and his company to the highest degree.  He is a true craftsman and focuses on every aspect of what makes a baton more than just and stick with a handle.

Some Friends Who Put the Notes on the Page

Using Social Media in a Large Ensembles Setting

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The 2010-11 TTU Symphonic Band Season Repertoire

Thurs, Sept 23 “Happy Birthday WHS!”  Shared with Concert Band

Circus Overture – William Schuman

Soleriana – Carlos Surinach

Benediction – John Stevens

Frenergy – John Estacio


Tues, Oct 26 “Beginnings and Beyond” Shared with Concert Band

Tunbridge Fair – Walter Piston

It Perched for a Vespers Nine – Joel Puckett

Popcopy – Scott McAlister


Mon, Nov. 22 “Where in the World?”

La Procession du Rocio – Joaquím Turina

Ára Bátur – Sigur Rós/Vickerman

Divertimento – Jindrich Feld


Geographical Fugue – Ernst Toch

Alchemy in Silent Spaces – Steven Bryant

Lollapalooza – John Adams


Thurs, Feb 3 “Expect the Unexpected”

Metallic Origami Five Miniatures for Metal Instruments – Robert Frank

Fugue in C – Charles Ives

Raag Mala – Michael Colgrass


Fugue à la Gigue – Gustav Holst

Hammersmith – Gustav Holst

Radiant Joy – Steven Bryant


Tues, March 8 “Perceptions”

Milestone – Roshanne Etezady

A Solemn Music -Virgil Thompson

Harrison’s Dream – Peter Graham


Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor – Marianne Ploger

Theme and Variations – Arnold Schoenberg


Tues, April 19 “Homages”

Machine from Symphony #5 – William Bolcom

Bell Piece – Percy Grainger

Homages – Michael Djupstrom


In evenings stillness… – Joseph Schwanter

Symphony – John Stevens

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