October is gone, so marching band is now officially done for me for the year. Sometimes I feel like I am an anomaly amongst my friends and colleagues in the music biz, because I like marching band and I like the things that high school marching band does for kids. I simply do not share their dis-taste for this activity. I enjoy teaching brass skills and music designed for the football field. There is a level of emotional enjoyment and performance skill to be found in marching band that is far greater than even orchestral playing. It is a bit of a crazy process to get to that point, but never the less, it is undeniable. Maybe one day I will try to clearly state what it is about this activity that draws me to it, but lately it seems enough for me that I am just really good at teaching it. It won’t be long before that isn’t enough, but for now, there it is.
I work with two band on a regular basis, and I get great enjoyment out of them for different reasons. While both bands grew a lot this season, only one had true competitive success. I will not get wrapped up in winning marching band competitions, as that is so not important, but the process getting to high quality does matter, and what the kids learn in that process is the true gift.
Sanderson is an average sized band in NC. Roughly 70 members. To me it is a good example of how to have balance in a band program and quality in a marching band without over-doing it. The kids work hard and seem to know the value in limited rehearsal time vs. achieving goals. I have been running this brass line for about 5 years and it is one of the fundamentally sound lines out there. They are a lot of fun to teach and get a solid product in the end.
Cary is a larger than average band for NC. They might be the largest HS band in NC. We are dealing with growing pains there and maybe even modernizing a bit. The kids there are also great to work with and want to be really good and work hard. We have a great working relationship and the future looks good for them. The off season looks like it could be fun as we look for new and better ways to make that program top notch.
I also judged a couple of shows this year, early in the season, and I continue the debate with myself on whether or not I should do more of that. It misbecoming clearer and clearer that there are not a lot of people who understand how to judge true music effect, and how that differs from Ensemble Music Performance. So many shows we end up with three ensemble tapes and no effect tapes. I feel I have a good handle on Ensemble and Music Effect captions, but would prefer to be in the trenches helping my bands get ready to perform. Maybe it will come down to money deciding it in the end. Who knows.
So now what? The youth brass band just held their auditions and I was not involved at all for the first time in 13 years. It sounds like it will be awesome and I am happy for that, and glad that I left a program in such good shape, and in great hands. The adult brass band has a concert this week, and then we start on our holiday program next week. The quintet will be pretty active the next couple of months as well. Throw in some NC Symphony work and other gigs and it should be a good couple of months leading up to the holidays.