Choice Concert. Overall the season was a great success and was
enjoyed by band members and audience alike.
Doing a dozen concerts in a row with all different music (except the
People's Choice Concert) is quite a challenge for an all-volunteer
group, especially since we do all the rehearsals in the Spring and
none during the concert season.
As director, it is my job to know all the music--tempi, entrances,
trouble spots, and things to say in 10 words or less to remind the
members of things to watch. One technique that I had forgotten and
then remembered and put to good use is the idea that correcting the
balance between parts in the band can go a long way toward improving
pitch (which is already very good) and rhythmic precision (which is
sometimes a problem with a large band when everyone is busy reading
the page.) There was a book and set of band exercises published by
W. Francis McBeth about 30 years ago that came to mind in August.
The quick fix was to have the band play a simple Bb concert scale
slowly while I listened from the podium. Then I explained which
sections needed to be a little louder, which a little softer, and
which were ok for the dynamic level. This was done first at forte
and then at mezzo forte. The results were dramatic! Balance,
tuning, and rhythmic precision all improved from good to great.
Another thing that really helped rhythmic precision was to add a live
monitor behind the band. We put one of my Peavey KB-100 keyboard
amplifiers behind the band and ran a mike line up front with the mike
at about eye level with the front row and just behind me. This
allowed the back of the band to hear the front of the band. The
chordal intonation locked in much better, and rhythmic precision
improved, plus we heard the woodwind sections better when they had
the melody and the brass were accompanying. Being able to hear the
front of the band helped the back of the band know when to adjust
their dynamic level from "lead" to "background".
We are now off for a month and will resume rehearsals on October 1,
when we prepare for our October 6th appearance playing "oompah" music
at the Frontier Culture Museum's "Oktoberfest."