International Music Score Library Project

If you’re a classical musician, music student, or music teacher, you will want to be aware of the International Music Score Library Project. With hundreds of thousands of public domain music scores available, the IMSLP is one of the best resources for free music scores available on the web. Here’s some resent news about this site:

28 December 2013 – 261,000 scores.
28 December 2013 – 74,000 works have scores or parts on Petrucci Music Library.
1 July 2013 – We are happy to receive news of the successful incorporation and launch of Petrucci Music Library – Canada! More information can be found in this forum post.
30 May 2013 – IMSLP is happy to announce the availability of a “score similarity” feature, created by Vladimir Viro, which will show other pieces similar to a particular IMSLP file.

Since all the works published on this site are public domain there isn’t much music available after the 20th century, but if you’re looking for music to study prior to 1900 you can try searching at the IMSLP first and you may be able to a PDF score of what you’re looking for, sometimes even more than one edition.

Interview on Free Music Ed Podcast

About a month ago I posted a new resource I discovered that I recommend for music educators called FreeMusicEd.org.  The podcast covers some great topics, such as iPad and iPhone apps for band directors, dealing with limited instrumentation, brass mouthpieces, marching band arrangements, and much more.

Stephan Cox, the brain behind FreeMusicEd.org invited me to come onto the podcast and interviewed me about a number of my favorite blogging topics, including teaching jazz improvisation, brass embouchures, teaching composition, and other odds and ends. It was a great time talking with Stephan and he was an excellent host who asked great questions. The podcast is now live and you can download it here or by searching for FreeMusicEd on iTunes (best to type it in as one word to find it easily). Be sure to go through and listen to his other podcasts and poke around the website some too!

Advice For Parents of Music Students

I was asked a while back if I could put together a resource for parents of music students. Parents will sometimes surf by here or contact me looking for advice on how to help their child with music studies. Here are some of my thoughts compiled together, in no particular order.

Encourage, but keep an eye on burnout

Children studying music definitely respond to positive reinforcement. Ask your child to play for you regularly. Ask about how lessons and music classes are going and what music he or she is playing in them. Encourage your child to practice every day, or at least as close to every day as is possible. Conversely, be on the lookout for signs of burnout. Children today seem to be busier than ever with school work, music lessons, rehearsals, dance classes, athletics, and all the other activities parents encourage their children to be a part of. If your goal is to have your child love music and participate in band, be aware that sometimes they may feel burnt out on all the activity and see if they can back off on some for a while. Sometimes when an activity like practicing our instrument becomes a chore we loose the enjoyment we used to get from it.

Try to sign your child up for regular private lessons

There’s almost no replacement for one-on-one private lessons when it comes to success in music. The individualized attention a private instructor can offer will pay off in dividends down the road, as many bad playing habits can not seem to make much of a difference in the short term but are very hard to correct later.  Us band directors can only do so much in large ensemble rehearsals when it comes to teaching children to play or sing music.

One trend I’ve noticed is that many students want to take a lesson or three just before a big contest or audition, and then drop the lessons once it has passed. While catching the occasional lesson like this is better than no private lessons at all, it’s not really the best way to prepare. While I’m always happy to help a student prepare for an all-state audition, very often the issues holding a student back are best addressed in exercises or etudes that aren’t going to be asked on the audition or contest. Having a regular meeting with a private instructor is going to mean better overall musicianship and developing the skills and will better prepare the student for learning the contest music.

Listen to “art” music in the home or car with your child and make recordings available

I’ve got nothing against pop, country, rap, etc. In fact, I like to listen to a wide variety of musical genres and feel there’s good (and bad) music in all styles. That said, music is an aural art form and music students who aren’t exposed to the sounds they will be performing will be at a disadvantage when it comes to learning how to play with a characteristic tone and with a stylistic approach. Take the time to put on some music that will broaden your child’s listening skills, with an emphasis on the instrument that your child is studying.

Rent or purchase a decent instrument, make needed repairs quickly

You don’t have to go overboard and buy a top of the line instrument, but your child’s instrument should be in good playing condition and be well put together. If there are dents in a trombone slide, leaky pads on the clarinet, or sticky valves on a trumpet the instrument is going to be harder (or impossible) to play and limit your child’s progress.

If you’re looking for specific brand information I recommend you speak directly with your child’s music teacher. Your child’s teacher will have a good idea of how he or she currently plays and what sort of equipment will be most helpful, as opposed to someone online, who may or may not be as expert as you think.

Many schools have deals with local music stores that offer good quality instruments for rental or purchase and also ensure that your student has all other necessary equipment and books for music classes (e.g., cleaning kits, required music books, etc.). Some music stores also have special deals for students that include repair work and may even pick up and drop off the instrument at your child’s school, saving you the bother of running those errands yourself.

Attend your child’s performances

Performing for people you know who came specifically to hear you is so much more fun than playing for a group of strangers. Of course it can be impossible to get to every single event, but make a serious effort to hear your child perform as much as possible.

Take your child to hear high quality live music

While having good recordings to listen to is invaluable for music students, seeing music performed live offers so much more. Professional performances will be more inspiring and educational than non-professional shows, of course, but don’t dismiss how exciting going to hear a community or school group too. If your child is in middle school, for example, going to hear a high school band perform will show him or her what is possible for slightly older students and what sort of opportunities are available at the high school.

Meet your child’s music teacher(s) and consult with them from time to time

Band and choir directors are busy folks. They often spend the whole school day teaching classes and then go on to run after-school rehearsals until late in the afternoon (or evening). Weekend student performances and contests also often take up a lot of their available time. I’m not pointing this out to discourage you from checking in on your child with them, but instead to help you understand that your child’s music teacher may be too busy to check in with each of their student’s parents individual on a regular basis. Talking with your child’s music teacher will let both your child and the teacher know you care and help communicate important information (e.g., what specific issues your child is struggling/excelling with, what time that next concert’s warm-up will be, what clothes they need to wear, etc.).

Join the band/choir boosters

If you’ve got the time to be active in the schools booster organization join and help out. Band is a very expensive program, requiring instruments and other equipment to be purchased and maintained, obtaining sheet music, hiring support staff, and many other expenses that might not be obvious or covered by school funding. Booster clubs are often the main source of funding for some particular programs (e.g., marching bands) and many times events and activities can’t be done without volunteers to help supervise or take responsibilities for the preparations. The stronger the booster club, the better your child’s experience will be in music.

Can you think of some suggestions I’ve left off of this list? Do you have some specific questions that you’d like to see added? Leave your comments here or drop me an email here.

Practicing With a Metronome

I recently came across an interesting blog post written by pianist Mike Longo asking Should You Practice Jazz With A Metronome? Longo’s reply:

In MHO, absolutely not!  Why?  Because a metronome clicking is not a pulse.  What is a pulse anyway?  The sound of your heart beating.  It produces a throbbing, pumping kind of feeling as opposed to the monotonous, soulless clicking of a metronome.  All of the great jazz musicians of the past such as Dizzy, Charlie Parker, Cannonball, John Coltrane,  Erroll Garner, etc., display this kind of sound in their time keeping.

He raises some very good points that are worth some serious consideration. That said, I feel some of his reasoning is a little off base and creates another false dichotomy of the sort that pervades so much music pedagogy. Let me take a few of his points and add my own thoughts.

There is a practice among some of the jazz educators to encourage musicians to practice with the metronome clicking on 2 and 4.  In my estimation this is probably one of the worst things a musician can do and practically destroys the ability to ever swing.  I’m sure there is no malicious attempt on the part of the educators, and they sincerely believe they are “helping” students by having them do this.  The sad thing is there is a type of playing and a kind of “music” that can result from this.  The question becomes…does it swing?   Does it produce a positive reaction in the listener?  In other words, does it make people who listen to it feel good?  In my opinion, ABSOLUTELY NOT!

As someone who has played along with a click track  for recording and for shows that include prerecorded music I agree that this often makes for a stiff feeling groove. That said, there are some folks who really enjoy music that has been recorded with metronomic time and a lot of interesting music has been created this way. I think that Longo’s opinions about music made with a metronome should be placed into the context of the jazz music that he personally enjoys and performs.

But is it really the worst thing one can do? Will it destroy a musician’s ability to play with a confident and natural swing feel? Let’s examine his arguments.

Since this is a common practice being used in many jazz education environments and since the popularity of jazz has diminished in alarming proportions, I suggest that educators might want to question if there might be a connection.

Probably not. Consider how much pop music is recorded and performed with a click track. One might argue that the decline of interest in jazz is inversely proportional to not having metronomic time. I don’t this really applies to a discussion on the pedagogical or practice value of using a metronome.

Longo’s next couple of paragraphs deal with a discussion of watching musicians dance or tap their foot while performing. He argues that one can’t dance like Dizzy Gillespie or tap a foot like Count Basie to a metronome. I’m not sure that this is necessarily true (I can’t dance to either a metronome or Basie both, to be honest), nor does it really say anything about whether practicing with a metronome is useful. There’s also some thoughts about whether white musicians can groove as hard as African American musicians by Cannonball Adderly, but I’m not certain that this is evidence against metronome practice. It’s probably more due enculturation than anything else.

I had a young guitar student who was studying privately with me while attending a university jazz department trying to get a degree in jazz performance. . . He reported that the guitar teacher showed him a clip on You Tube of a guitarist playing a solo while placing the microphone on the floor next to a metronome clicking on 2 and 4.  I observed this clip and found that the playing displayed a tremendous amount of technique with speed and velocity as well as a ton of notes.  But it was not producing anything I wanted to listen to, nor did it swing.  The student proclaimed that the teacher told him, “This is why you should practice with the metronome on 2 and 4” to which I responded by sending the teacher a clip of Wes Montgomery and his group playing “Impressions” with the drummers high hat popping on 2 and 4 in a manner that started your foot tapping involuntarily from the first bar on.  I sent a note along stating, “This is why you shouldn’t practice that way.”

I will let you judge for yourself if Metheny swings and if there’s anything worth listening to, but we need to place this video in context. Metheny isn’t really performing here, he is demonstrating something at a clinic. Again, I think that Longo’s thoughts here are more indicative of his personal preferences in music than what metronome practice can do for your playing.

Further evidence that supports that there is a ring of truth to my theory is the following.  Try taking any classic jazz recording that has withstood the test of time and has everyone agreeing on the fact that it swings and see if you can get a metronome to stay with the music on that recording.  Obviously you cannot, and obviously the musicians were keeping time differently than the way a metronome clicks.

This is indeed a difficult task to accomplish. It’s much easier to use a metronome that you click or tap that tells you what tempo it is moving at and see if the tempo remains steady throughout. Musicians often play at tempos that are between the standard metronome clicks and even if they played in perfect time it would be impossible to set your metronome to the music. That said, it is true that there are almost always minor fluctuations in the tempo with human musicians. It’s part of what makes the music breathe and flow in an expressive way. But do musicians who practice with a metronome do any better at staying with perfect time when recording without a click track?

As an aside, I recently recorded a few big band charts with just four musicians, so used a click track to keep all the parts lined up correctly. When editing the recordings I noticed that many of the players, myself included, frequently played ahead of or behind the beat at times. There were times when this happened where I was able to clean up the sound by edging the notes forward and backwards a bit, but when I perfectly quantized the music to line up exactly the resulting sound was very stiff and artificial sounding.

But I feel the real question to consider is whether or not metronome practice needs to be all or nothing. What does a metronome provide for your practice? It’s good at two things – getting your  tempo correct in the first place and then providing feedback as to whether your tempo is remaining consistent. I prefer to think of a metronome as a “spotter” for your time feel. Once you’ve reached a point where you have a good idea of your tempo and have consistent tempo on the music you’re playing you turn the metronome off. Can a musician develop a static and unmusical groove by overpracticing with a metronome? Perhaps, but I don’t think that this happens to any great degree. On the other hand, the feedback that metronome practice can provide to musicians, particularly less experienced ones or even experienced ones working on challenging material, makes for a valuable tool. In my daily teaching (and performing, to a lesser degree) I come across more cases of musicians who drag or rush than players with a stiff groove.

If you can swing with a metronome click as your “rhythm section,” just think of how hard you will swing with a real one.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that it’s better to never practice with a metronome or use it frequently? Or do you find that the best approach is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thoughts On Programming

Putting together a concert or set list is as much an art as performing the music in the first place. If you’ve never programmed a concert or chosen a set list for a band to perform, the first time you do this can be a challenging experience. However, if you approach it with the right attitude it can be a fun and creative venture. While there are many approaches to how to select music for a performance (or album project), here are some of the basic rules of thumb that I personally use to select a program or set list.

Consider the Concert or Set as a Whole Entity

It’s tempting to sometimes look for neat pieces to perform and simply throw them together, but sometimes this makes for a performance that is too redundant. As you start thinking about which compositions to include you want to think about whether there is enough variety to be interesting without getting disjointed.

One thing that helps me to organize a concert or set list is to think about certain key points in the performance that I’ll want to program something specific. For example, here is a generic outline for a set or concert including 8 compositions (well, 9 actually, but that’s with an encore) that might go about an hour.

  1. Opener – Something exciting and accessible for the audience to get everyone settled in and in the mood for the performance. I almost always like to segue directly into at least the next piece (and sometimes the next two pieces) without pausing for announcements.
  2. Lower the intensity – Frequently I’ll put in something slow and lyrical here, but sometimes I’ll instead program something just less intense than the opener and save the lyrical piece for third. For example, in a big band set I might program a bossa nova here and then follow with a ballad third. Other times I’ll program a ballad here and save the bossa nova for third.
  3. Keep the intensity simmering – See #2 above. It’s worth changing styles here and having some ebb and flow to the second and third pieces, but don’t get too exciting here. Save it for later and it will have more of an impact.
  4. Something weighty – If you’re going to program something that is not as accessible as the rest of the set or concert, this is a good place to do it. Don’t do it too late or else your audience will be less attentive.
  5. Something accessible and fun – After challenging your audience you want to reward them with something easy to listen to. In a big band set, for example, I might program a funk or rock chart here. For a concert band or brass band performance I like to put something pops oriented in here.
  6. Lower the intensity a bit again – After #5 calm things down a bit with something that will help you build to the peak that is your final piece.
  7. Build intensity – Not too much, save it for the closer. Something that is lighter in style or familiar to your audience is good.
  8. Closer – A final piece that ends with a bang. Something familiar to your audience can be good here, but sometimes I prefer to program something that the ensemble really enjoys playing more than worrying about the audience.
  9. Encore – I like having encores in my concerts and final set. If there’s a particular piece that your audience is waiting for, this is a great time to program it.

With an outline like the above in mind, I’ll start going through the music library and find pieces that can fit these different roles and start placing them in order to see how I imagine it will sound. That’s not to say that you need to stick to this guide absolutely. As you find pieces that you want to perform you’ll discover different ways that you can play around with this programming concept. For example, the Stan Kenton Live at Redlands University concert starts with a ballad, rather than a barn burner (check out the introductory clip of Kenton explaining this decision on that link). Your main concern really shouldn’t be plugging in music, but that you’re pacing the performance in an interesting and enjoyable way.

Consider Your Audience

I’ve already alluded to this above, but you will want to think about your target audience and what they want to hear. That’s not to say that you need to “sell out” and only program music that is familiar or popular. Some audiences are particularly hip and some performances cater specifically to an educated audience while others are going to have a mix of people, maybe leaning towards patrons who are attending on a whim. For example, consider the difference between a concert at a contemporary music festival and an outdoor concert just before a fireworks display on Independence Day. You can’t program one like the other without disappointing and alienating your audience.

Consider Your Ensemble

As your thinking about what pieces you want to perform you need to think about the capabilities of your ensemble. Do you have a section in the group that is particularly strong or have some outstanding soloists you can feature? Do you have a weaker section or a budding soloist that you can challenge a bit for improvement without getting too difficult (particularly important if you’re working with a student ensemble)? How difficult will brass parts be? Will your brass players have chops at the end of the performance? If the closer is particularly rangy for the brass consider programming a piece or two just before that are easy on the brass players so they can rest a bit and get ready to blow hard on the final piece. Be sure to program something purely for ensemble enjoyment, regardless of how you think it will go over with the audience. I feel that when the band really is having a good time it rubs off on the audience, even if the piece might go over their heads, as long as you don’t overdo this.

Program Something For Everyone

I like a wide variety of music and prefer to program a lot of different types of pieces in my concerts and sets. Along with considering your audience, stick in some pieces that will appeal to the high-brows and find something that the Philistines will enjoy too. Again, make sure that your ensemble is having fun and being challenged as well so that their energy feeds the audience’s.

Consider Length of the Concert or Set

When I’m putting together a set list for a big band, for example, I keep each set to about 8-10 charts because I know that that will take about 45-60 minutes to perform (obviously you have to adjust if you know something is particularly long or short). Programming for a concert band performance, in contrast, is a little more tricky because pieces can have different lengths. I will usually write down the approximate length of time each piece takes to perform and add them up, allowing for time between numbers. If you’re going to make announcements during the performance consider how long it will take to get through them.

Personally, I think the maximum length of a performance without an intermission should be 75 minutes. Any longer than this and you should split up your program into roughly half and stick in an intermission. If I’m programming a concert with an intermission I try to go 2 hours maximum (including intermission), and closer to 90-105 minutes if possible.

Club gigs are a bit different as you usually have a set amount of time to fill. A typical approach is to play for about 45-50 minutes and then take about 15-20 minutes for a set break. If you’re filling a two hour night, for example, you can play for 50 minutes, take a 20 minute break, and then come back for a final 50 minutes, give or take.

Practice

Learning how to pace a concert or set list is a skill much like learning to compose or arrange a piece of music. It’s actually pretty easy to practice this by putting together a playlist for your MP3 player. In fact, if I’ve got recordings of all the pieces I’m thinking of programming I’ll sometimes do this to see how the performance will feel after listening to it all the way through. You’ll get a great idea of how the flow of the music fits together and sometimes catch some odd things about your program that you might not have noticed otherwise. For example, is the last chord of one piece the same as the first chord of the next? Are the tempos of two consecutive pieces too close for variety? Do two consecutive pieces feature the exact same soloist? When you discover things like this it doesn’t mean you need to change your order, but it might inform how your introduce the pieces during the performance or whether you’ll segue directly into the next number without any introductions.

Closing Thoughts

A lot of this is pretty intuitive for many people and I know many directors who have their own philosophy of how they program concerts. There are many different ways to think about music selection and sometimes special events require a different approach. If you have a guest soloist, for example, you’ll need to program around the soloist. A themed concert celebrating a particular composer or event can be a fun way to build a program too. Study programs and albums you really enjoy and see how the flow of pieces fit together and borrow what you can from those.

Do you have any additional thoughts or disagreements? Please share your ideas in the comments here.

Mars Hill College New Music Festival 2013

Mars Hill College’s Music Department will be hosting their annual New Music Festival this weekend, April 19 and 20. The featured composer this year is Bryan Hooten, who is not only a composer but also a trombonist.

Friday afternoon the MHC faculty will be performing music by Elliott Carter and in the evening there is an “Interactive Improvisation Hang Out” with Hooten. I’m particularly excited about Saturday evening’s concert because the MHC Jazz Ensemble will be playing a new piece I wrote for them, called Haywood Bluff, in addition to 3 charts by Hooten. I got to hear some of this music last weekend when they opened up the Asheville Jazz Orchestra’s show. Since their student pianist wasn’t able to make this performance I even sat in on piano. They sounded great on my tune and on the one chart by Hooten I played with them.

There’s more than just the Jazz Ensemble on Saturday night’s program, so there should be a little bit for everyone. I plan on attending the concert Saturday night, so if you’re around western North Carolina this weekend looking for some music to hear stop on by and if you see me, be sure to say hello.

More Thoughts On Athletic Bands

ku-xlargeIf you don’t live in the U.S. you might not understand “March Madness,” which is just wrapping up here. March is the month when the NCAA basketball tournament kicks into high gear and college teams compete to see who ends up on top. While the teams travel around the country to play (and are excused from classes for a university sponsored event), they take their “spirit squads,” which usually include the school’s pep band.

The way pep bands are run differ from school to school. When I was an undergraduate the pep band was a class, we received (small) class credit for it and earned a grade at the end of the semester. If I remember correctly it was required for us to play in for at least one year as a music major, but since I enjoyed it I played almost all of the four years I spent at Illinois Wesleyan University. While a graduate student at DePaul University I occasionally subbed in the pep band for basketball games. Students who played in the pep band didn’t earn credit but received a small stipend to play and support the basketball team. When I subbed in the student I played for paid me directly for filling in. These days I think the stipend is more the norm, as it is a huge demand on the students’ time, with games happening almost every weekend (sometimes more) and frequently requiring travel time.

With the NCAA tournament going on, the pep bands travel with the basketball teams and like the basketball players, the students miss out on classes. An anonymous pep band member recently wrote an article on Deadspin about his experiences playing at the tournament, frequently for other schools that don’t happen to have a pep band to play for their team’s games.

What’s a typical week for a spirit squadder? If the team is placed far enough from home, we get to fly with them. If the team stays close by, which happens only to top seeds in the first round, we’ll bus in on game day. That hasn’t been my experience, though. The round of 64 is played on Thursday and Friday. Let’s say Texas is playing at the Staples Center on Thursday; the Longhorns need to adjust to the new time zone, get in some practice, and make appearances for alumni and donors in the area. So they leave on Tuesday, which means that a saxophonist in the band gets a night out after he checks in to his hotel, then Wednesday is all his. If Texas wins on Thursday, he has the rest of the day and Friday to himself before the round of 32 game on Saturday. If Texas wins on Saturday, guess what? He’s got another free trip in store.

The band members get to miss a lot of class, and I imagine most of them aren’t spending their free time studying or practicing.

When we first check into our hotel we get three days’ per diem up front, usually around $55 total, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize that, for a college kid, “per diem” is Latin for “beer money.” If we win our first game, we get per diem for the remainder of the weekend when we return to the hotel. A $5 tax on all 29 people in the band makes for a nice slush fund for filling a hotel suite with booze. We never finished that Everclear. Every year we end up dumping liquor down the drain. Last year it was the moonshine I don’t remember drinking.

While I never attended an NCAA tournament or traveled as a pep band member, in my experience the picture our anonymous author paints about what goes on during his experience away from school during the tourney is typical.

I wonder if this is really what our music schools should be doing with their time and resources. Of course, these bands are more and more often supported by the school’s athletic programs rather than the music programs, which is a whole other can of worms.

School Bands and Athletics

Marching BandI haven’t done a lot of marching band, so my opinions about it are tempered somewhat by my lack of experiences in this area. Personally, I was always more interested in making music for listening purposes, rather than in conjunction with something that looks cool on the field. Also, I have to admit I’m not much of a football fan, so I never really was interested in going to a lot of games. At the high school and university I went to for my undergraduate degree there wasn’t even a marching band to participate in, we just did pep band and played in the stands.

But I do know a lot of musicians who had very positive experiences in marching bands and drum and bugle corps, so I understand the appeal. And I’m trying to learn more about this in order to be able to be more versatile as a teacher.

Recently NPR broadcast an editorial about marching bands and sports, which I found very interesting and have some agreement with. Frank Deford mentions his surprise in learning that many schools offer scholarships for students to play in the marching band. I have no problem with this, many schools offer financial incentives to students to play in a particular ensemble for both music majors and music minors. One of Deford’s other points I’m in full agreement with.

Lisa Chismire, the parent of a student in the Unionville-Chadds Ford District in Pennsylvania, discovered that it was district policy — as it is elsewhere — to force serious music students to attend band camp in the summer and then march in the band at football games. If music students who had no interest in the marching band did not go along and assist the football program, the young musicians would not be allowed to play in the concert band, the symphonic band, the jazz band or the orchestra.

Chismire, who is a retired lawyer, was appalled. She called this “extortion” and “institutional bullying” — coercing students in one discipline to serve as spear carriers for those in another.

In my experience, if the marching band is run well by the directors you typically don’t need to spend a lot of time recruiting your band students to participate in it. They will want to because it’s enjoyable. If anything, I feel that the concert band is the ensemble that needs to be the core group of a high school band program and this is the ensemble that should be required for participation in the marching band. It’s in the concert band where the director can most effectively teach essential musical skills that will translate to a good sounding marching band, where the marching band has too many other activities involved to really focus on making music well.

But there is some controversy about these different priorities. Many high schools really focus their band program on the marching band. It is the most visible group of the entire music program and is how many school band programs are judged by the general public.

The comments in the NPR article are also interesting to read, with good points being made by both sides of this issue. What do you think? Should marching band be the core ensemble of a high school band program or is this putting the cart before the horse? Does the real answer to this question lie somewhere in the middle?

Land of the Sky Symphonic Band Concert, February 16, 2013

LandoftheSkySymphonicBandThis Saturday, February 16, 2013, the Land of the Sky Symphonic Band will be performing a concert at the White Horse Black Mountain, in Black Mountain, NC. The concert starts at 8 PM and tickets can be bought at the door for $15.

I enjoy performing a wide variety of music, so as the conductor of this group I try to select a lot of contrasting pieces. We’ll be performing a lot of traditional concert band repertoire on Saturday, such as Commando March by Samuel Barber, but also some non-traditional pieces as well. For example, we’re playing a fun transcription of Rossini’s Overture to the Barber of Seville. There are some lighter pieces on the program, such as a medley arrangement of music from the musical My Fair Lady.

A couple of the musicians in the group found a whole bunch of music that I wasn’t familiar with and we’re trying out a couple of those pieces too. One is called Caribbean Fantasy, composed by John J. Morressey. Another, Timpat by Robert L. Leist, will feature Dr. Mario Gaetano on timpani. Mario, a regular member of the ensemble, is the percussion teacher at Western Carolina University and a very fine musician.

If you’re in the area this weekend please come on out and listen to a very fine group and be sure to say hello during out intermission or after the performance.