[NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC]
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
VOL 10, NO 2, Summer, 2008
© 2008 Copyright of David E. Smith Publications
All Rights Reserved. Made in U.S.A.
Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
St. Francis of Assisi
THE PUBLISHER'S SPACE
DESPUB continues to expand the dimension of its web sites with enhanced features to make accessing the volume of data and details easier and even more comprehensive.
We have been suggesting for some time that we would be adding visual music files to our web sites and that is now taking place on all our sites. If a piece does have a visual it will be indicated with a "pdf" icon to the right of the product description and the music will pop up. These are abbreviated samples of the score but will assist in the scoring structure and style of the piece.
There are hundreds of these files up already and hundreds more will soon be posted with the goal of thousands shortly. Also, previous icons for music playback samples have been replaced with a "speaker icon." A simple click on that icon will bring up a mp3 or wav file to listen to. In most cases, these are full renditions of the product. While the Salvation Army presents many different series, we have the sound samples of the hundreds of pieces that are in the “American Instrumental Ensemble Series"
A suggestion for a comprehensive experience with a piece is to call up the sound file, then the visual, and experience both at the same time.
Another change in the websites is the absence of the "Appendix" link and the "more info" link which is now represented by a "?" icon. This link will pull up cursory information such as keys, meters, duration times, forms, thematic and instrumentation details.
In the "Hot Links" menu we have added links for details on "The Young Soloist Series" and new database and spreadsheet downloadables of the Catalog. These are in addition to the links already there for “Hymns For Multiple Instruments”, “Hymnsembles,” and “Heritage.”
If you are attending an education or church convention in the upcoming months, you may wish to check our listing of exhibits on www.despub.com. These events can assist you in browsing the thousands of pieces we publish or distribute. Of course, you can also check with any of the hundreds of dealers that handle these products.
If you check the back cover of this newsletter you will see a listing of the approximately thirty publishers whom we serve. We are happy to assist you in finding that sacred or educational instrumental piece for which you are looking. We can also do the same for vocal literature.
Continue to check up on our web sites for the latest in first issue products under "What's New." Also, we can make you aware of the existence of new items or services when they become available by signing up on these sites under "E-mail" notification.
DESPUB has recently released some new products and now the latest from Light Of The World Music which is May Jesus Christ Be Praised with Doxology by Keith Kunda for two trumpets, horn, trombone, tuba and a trumpet substitute for horn. It is a level four piece and is priced at $17.00 with a duration of 2’10”. In addition, the 2008 American Instrumental Ensemble Series published by the Salvation Army is out and you can find those on both web sites as well.
One DESPUB area of development which has been in process for several years should produce a release in the near future of a “SmartMusic” version of many of their solos. With time this will expand into ensemble products as well. For those not familiar with “SmartMusic,” it is a product from the MakeMusic corporation and is available on www.church music.biz. This intuitive computer software has the capability of following the performer and can even do testing or assessment of the performance. Much more of this will unfold in upcoming months—stay tuned!
THE BRASS SPACE
by Phil Norris
A BRASS POTPOURRI
Just to be sure I chose the right word (potpourri) I looked up its definition: a medley or miscellany; mixture. I was on-track. But then I noticed its word origin: French, pot = pot + pourrir = to rot. How did we ever get from that meaning to the present?! As they say in Minnesota, “Whatever.” This installment will be a mixture or medley (a good musical term!) of a few important tips from my teaching and performing over the past thirty or more years. I trust there will be a couple things of value for you.
I want to begin with one of the elemental aspects of brass playing: embouchure. In the past year alone, more than one student has come to me only to discover that there were some serious problems with range, endurance or both. What I saw concerned me, not so much for the student, but for the teachers who did not catch a basic embouchure problem early on. As the professor in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” asked, “What do they teach in these schools?”
I’m not one to spend a great deal of time or attention on embouchure, as my Arnold Jacobs’ background might suggest. But, there are a couple very basic things that beginning brass players, and particularly trumpet and horn players, should be told and then monitored: the red part of both lips go INSIDE the rim of the mouthpiece, so that the red part is IN the cup. Of the students who came to me with wrong embouchures, all of them were high school age or older, and all of them were bisecting their lips with the mouthpiece rim and/or they were not rolling the lips over the teeth like saying the letter “m”. For teachers, this situation is very easy to address and easy to see visually. The question is: why didn’t these students get the guidance they needed from the beginning?
So please, if you teach beginning or younger students brass instruments, please check to see that they forms their lips as if saying the letter “m” (i.e. rolling the lips over top and bottom teeth) and then place the mouthpiece on the lips before they insert their lips into the mouthpiece cup. Then be sure the red part of the lips is inside the mouthpiece rim. If you have students with a faulty embouchure, and if they truly wish to progress and play well, there is no simple solution; they must go back and fix this foundational part of playing. The good news is that since there is already some muscle strength present, progress will be faster in working with the new embouchure than it was from the very beginning. Recently I came across a very fine guide to proper embouchure function. If there are serious problems, the $50 for this material will be well-spent: http://www.trumpetteacher.net/
Next, there are some practice strategies that I’ve found helpful for specific situations. The first concerns the dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythm. This rhythm is THE most misplayed rhythm that exists. No other rhythm comes close. Students must be taught a system of subdivision for all rhythms, but this one in particular should get double or quadruple attention. I like the subdivision: 1-e-and-a, so the dotted eighth is the “1-e-and”; the sixteenth is the “a”. If you simply want to count numbers, with four numbers per beat, that’s fine. The system is not the most important thing. The subdivision is. Students need to see the math in music, and this is one example, amongst many.
Another thing you can and should tell younger players: no matter how good you get, you still have to count; no matter how good you get, you still have to count; no matter how good you get, you still have to count!
Another rhythm practice technique I like concerns keeping continuous eighth notes even. One way I learned to address this is to play the passage (i.e. continuous even eighth notes) first with dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythm for paired eighths, THEN play the passage as sixteenth-dotted eighth. After playing the notes unevenly in these two opposites ways, there is an unexpected result: the plain eighths become even and controlled. I think there are a couple reasons for this. First, the brain somehow puts the two opposite rhythms together and what results is very even eighths. Second, the fingers have to move more rapidly from sixteenth to eighth, and as a result greater control is had when simply playing even eighth notes.
As to improving tongued staccato/marcato passages, I regularly like to slur through tongued passages (sorry trombonists, this leaves you out!). This has a positive effect on how I blow through the line of music, which, when tongued, may lack a sense of line or flow. I find that after slurring a (written) tongued passage, that the tongued style is always better. This shows the imperative for playing lyrical works every day (see my article, “In Praise of Flow Studies” Lines & Spaces, VOL 8. No 3. FALL, 2006].
One of the Jacob’s techniques I find helpful for high-range passages is to use octave displacement (i.e. play the passage down an octave). Then once the passage is played with confidence and beauty in the lower octave, try to maintain the same kind of ease in the high octave. Of course, the high octave will require more energy and embouchure strength, but the goal of octave displacement is to minimize the effort of high-register playing and to play with greater efficiency.
Finally, there are a few endurance strategies I’ve found helpful for myself and students. First, in the warm-up, take it very slowly and patiently; don’t rush. Rest more than you play in a warm-up. Play gently and more quietly. Play low register notes and play slowly – my classic “low and slow” approach to warm-up. Avoid using ascending lip slurs in the warm-up. Robert Nagel, a great in the trumpet world (and a brother in Christ), says that he does mostly intervals of seconds and thirds in his warm-up. Second, rest about as much as you practice after the warm-up. Brass playing is taxing on the lip and mouth tissues and muscles. Like any athletic activity, we must treat the muscles with balance. Stress-rest cycles build endurance. Too much stress tears down tissue; too much rest doesn’t build strength. We must work to balance the two. Maurice Andre advocates the rest as much as (or more than) you play approach.
In conclusion, I have been thinking of the joy of playing music lately, and playing with others in particular. Most of us are not going to be great solo performers, but all of us can play alongside others. Have you ever noticed in congregational singing that you don’t usually hear some people singing flat or sharp or out of time or breathing mid-phrase, and so on? There’s a spiritual principle at work: the principle of the body. All the members together complement one another: the strong help the weak, the collective voices make more sonority than one alone, and those more capable make the less capable sound better, even in a duet. When I as a professional play alongside my beginner students, they sound better than they are and together we are fuller-sounding than either one alone. And this is God’s design for a group. The stronger come alongside the weaker and not only help the weaker but cause the weaker to become stronger.
It’s interesting that in I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, where the body concept are presented, each passage is followed by an admonition to love. There is to be love in the body, expressed in humility and care for others, not a spirit of haughtiness and condescension, in order to build up the body. This goes for musicians who play in a group as well as believers who live amongst each other. We bless one another and together sound better than any player can alone, good as that one player may be, and all to the glory of God.
Phil Norris is Professor of Music at Northwestern College in St. Paul since 1993. He holds the DMA from the University of Minnesota, MM/Trumpet, Northwestern University and the BME from Grace College. He is also a musician, teacher and elder in his local church.
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THE LONE ARRANGER'S SPACE
by Dana F. Everson
A WORK ACCOMPLISHED!
Yes…I am now officially a Doctor of Sacred Ministry….I don’t feel any different, but I feel like others have a little higher expectation of me now. I am glad to be finally done. I haven’t done much creative writing during the past couple of years but now, Lord willing, I can get back to some of my most favorite activates: arranging and composing.
My dissertation was entitled SOUND ROOTS: STEPS TO BUILDING A BIBLICAL PHILOSOPHY OF SACRED MUSIC, designed to be of help especially to pastors/church leaders who have little musical background but want to improve their abilities to make wise decisions about music choices for their ministries. My goal is to suggest several major steps to consider and follow when developing one’s theology of music. Does God have anything to say about music besides “praise Him with loud cymbals”? Over 500 Scripture references to music seem to point to the fact that He is a musical God and that musical worship is not only acceptable to Him but expected.
Music has the power to influence. As an arranger/composer one handles a very important potential for influencing people to righteous thinking and behavior. This is the heart of every genuine Christian musician’s efforts. Is it important HOW God is approached in worship with music? I believe the Scriptures teach a number of important principles about this. My goal is to encourage as many people as possible, whether through arranging, playing piano or saxophone, song leading, or writing about music, to seek the Lord’s best in all they do. This was the admonition to the Old Testament Levitical musicians, to the New Testament church, and to individuals (see Colossians 3:16-17 for example).
Several people have asked for a copy of my paper. We are working on the possibility of getting it published. If and when it becomes available I will pass that information on via LINES and SPACES for anyone who may be interested.
Dana F. Everson holds: Associate of Arts -Delta College, the BME and Master’s in Saxophone Performance -Michigan State, Master of Sacred Music-Pensacola Christian College, and the Doctor of Sacred Ministry- Northland Baptist Bible College, with additional music studies from the University of Michigan and the California Institute of the Arts. He has over 350 published works.
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by Harlow E. Hopkins, Editor
Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.
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This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.
One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. “How many push-ups can you do?”
Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.” “200? That's pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”
Steve replied, “I don't know.... I've never done 300 at a time”
“Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Christianson.
“Well, I can try,” said Steve.
“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” said the professor. Steve said, “Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it.”
Dr. Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”
Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited. It was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.
Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?” Cynthia said, “Yes.”
Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”
“Sure!” Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.
Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?”
Joe said, “Yes.”
Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”
Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut. Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.
When the professor asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”
Scott's reply was, “Well, can I do my own push-ups?”
Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”
Then Scott said, “Well, I don't want one then.”
Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?”
With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.
Scott said, “HEY! I said I didn't want one!”
Dr. Christianson said, “Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it.” And he put a donut on Scott's desk.
Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.
Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”
Sternly, Jenny said, “No.”
Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?”
Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.
By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, “No!” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.
Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.
Steve asked Dr. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”
Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they're your push-ups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want.” And Dr. Christianson went on.
A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, “NO! Don't come in! Stay out!”
Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come in.”
Professor Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?”
Steve said, “Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut.”
Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”
Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. “Yes,” he said, “give me a donut.”
“Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?”
Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.
The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?”
Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”
Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?”
Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.
Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. “Susan, do you want a donut?”
Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry.
“Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?”
Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.”
“Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?”
As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”
Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.
“Well done, good and faithful servant,” said the professor, adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”
Turning to his class, the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not only His Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid.”
“Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?”
THE PERCUSSION SPACE
by Billy Madison
WHAT EXACTLY IS A DRUM?
A drum is a frame with a head stretched over it. The head (or membrane) was originally made of animal skin, but today is most often made of plastic or other synthetic material.
The frame may come in many shapes, but is usually conical or cylindrical, and may be of various lengths and functions as a resonator.
The head is stretched over the drum and tightened at various amounts of tension which determines the general “pitch” of the drum. (Most drums only have an approximate pitch, but some, like the timpani, may be tuned to a definite pitch.) Also, a drum may have a head on one side, with the other side uncovered, or on both sides.
The tone and volume of a drum may vary greatly depending on the type of drum and depending on what is used to strike the drum. A drum may be hit with the hands, sticks, mallets, brushes or a variety of other objects. Each implement will produce a different sound which allows for an almost unlimited array of sounds. The tension of the head(s) and the area where the drum is stuck will also determine the tone quality. Other devices (such as snares) may also be added to a drum to change the character of its sound.
The tighter the drum head the more clearly defined the rhythmic effect and, of course, the looser the head the less definition in the sound. Usually larger drums will have looser heads and smaller drums will have tighter heads. This can obviously be reversed to create even more tonal possibilities. Some drums even give the performer the ability to change the tension of the head during the performance.
Drums have been around almost since the beginning of time and are used to create both simple and complex rhythmic patterns in almost all types of music. They are also used for impact and special effects. Many combinations of drums may be used to provide an almost limitless number of rhythmic effects which will usually determine the overall character of a composition. Without drums to provide so many rhythms music would quickly grow boring. (That, of course, is my personal opinion.)
Billy Madison has taught instrumental music in the Arkansas Public Schools for 18 years. He holds both the BME in Instrumental Music and the MM in Music Theory and Composition from Arkansas State University. He studied composition with Jared Spears and Tom O’Connor. Madison has played percussion with the Northeast Arkansas Symphony since 1978.
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GUEST WRITER'S SPACE
by Doug Smith
Brass Bands of Great Britain (An 11 Part Series)
One main influence that created a hunger to study the British Brass Bands was an article in the INSTRUMENTALIST magazine by William Johnson. His words provided just the right incentive to help begin the joyful pursuit. One of his statements, however, we found to be at least partially untrue: "In observing many performances, I found the general level of expertise in conducting to be very low."
There was yet another statement from the same article that we could not verify: "The people in the brass bands are, for the most part, middle-aged and older...."
The bands we encountered in a full year of performances tended to have a median age just shy of 30. When taken together, the two Johnson statements indicated that in all probability he had observed mostly less decorated bands, while our involvements were mostly with groups in the "Championship Section."
Early in our English sojourn it was our privilege to enjoy "tea" with Roy Newsome, conductor of the Besses O' Th' Barn championship section band. Mr. Newsome shed some valuable light on his conductor colleagues and friends.
"Most of the band conductors," he said, "have not studied conducting PER SE, but like myself, have grown up playing, and then have worked slowly—or perhaps suddenly—into conducting. We don't claim to know the finer points of conducting, but we do know the finer points of brass playing, and we try to see that our bands play up to what we expect."
Rules for Conductors
The brass band movement is one of amateurs, but for the top contesting bands, the amateurism does not necessarily extend to the conductors. In 1889 the organizers of the British Open contest in Manchester laid down some rules for competing bands. The only restrictions on conductors were hardly restrictions at all:
"Conductors will be allowed to act for more than one band, but not allowed to play. Conductors may be professional."
And there were some conductors who were very professional indeed. One such person was Alexander Owen, who, in 1897, had no less than twenty bands under his direct supervision. In fact, there was one contest in which seven bands were entered, and all seven were conducted by Alexander Owen. His band could not help but win first prize!
On the gala concert held in Royal Albert Hall the evening of the 1981 national finals, the guest conductor was a legitimate British Brass Band legend, the 80-year-old Harry Mortimer.
Mr. Mortimer, after a life as comet soloist, symphonic trumpeter, conductor and executive in the BBC, he credited his Dad, Fred, for most of his success. Fred's contribution to the world was primarily through conducting, but in a published description by author Bram Gay, his was a different brand of conducting:
"Fred's stick technique was a minus quantity. It is not a question of whether he conducted well or badly; in conventional terms he did not conduct at all. 'In that bar,' he remarked once during a rehearsal, 'there are three different sizes of quaver going on. Make up your minds, can't you?' and off we went once more. No instruction given and none needed. Next time there was only one variety of quaver, the one that fitted the musical situation."
Mr. Gay's description continued: "Fred's beat was always a mile ahead of the band, and the miracle is that this tactic, as an unconscious attempt to signal phrase and dynamic well before we arrived at the point of delivery, produced no bad ensemble. We could play together without him perfectly well, and in his increasing age and infirmity we often did. This was a chamber group
At the 1981 British Open, the Fairey Engineering Band was conducted by the diminutive elder statesman Walter Hargreaves. Scarcely five feet tall, he called forth masterfully both precision and emotion. That same day, Ray Farr, the young conductor of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band was the picture of controlled intensity. Also impressive was the conductor of the Yorkshire Imperial Metals Band, John Pryce-Jones, a Jorge Mester look-alike.
Another truly dashing podium figure was Richard Evans of the Leyland Vehicles Band. Leyland Vehicles—the national car company of Great Britain—wanted to use the band to build their industrial image. So highly did they regard Mr. Evans's potential that they offered him a rather fetching salary and, as an unusual perk, a seat on the company's board of directors. Not conductors, mind you—directors!
Let's draw an analogy: Suppose that the Ford Motor Company, in the midst of a sales slump, decided to enhance the public's impression of "Ford." They decided to adopt a band—let's say the "Southwest Central High School Band of Detroit"—which made a less-than-distinguished III at the Southeast Michigan regional contest last year. Now the CEO of Ford decided that it was in the best interests of their company to transform this band into a sweepstakes winner.
To accomplish their goal, they offered Harry Begian a handsome salary, a brand new Lincoln Town Car every year, and a seat on the board of directors. Since it was against the rules to pay the high school players, they decided to buy new instruments and uniforms, and to build a state-of-the-art rehearsal facility. Then they saw to it that the players were allowed to miss classes all day any day they had a performance or important rehearsal, with absolutely no jeopardy to their school grades. Chances are the band would make some rather spectacular improvement in a very short time.
This is essentially what British Leyland did. Armed with an insight akin to that of Stokowski and a flair akin to that of Bernstein, Mr. Evans led the band from their lowly position to a spot of contention in the thick of the championship section. It is the kind of move not often experienced by a band.
Often conductors such as Mr, Evans, or Alexander Owen (above) do conduct more than one band. Of course this "horse-trading" is not uncommon at all among symphony orchestra conductors.
One outstanding example of podium-switching came on the occasion of the 1981 national finals on a Saturday in which Derek Broadbent conducted Brighouse and Rastrick to a very strong second-place finish, inches behind winner Black Dyke Mills. By virtue of winning the national championship the previous year, Brighouse got to compete the next day, Sunday, in the European finals, but had to play two major works other than the one they had played on Saturday, and, amazingly, playing under another conductor, James Scott. Miraculously, competing with the best the European continent had to offer, Brighouse & Rastrick came away with the first prize.
Referring back to William Johnson's uncomplimentary statement, my friends who spent a year with the best of British Brass decided that these conductors are indeed very excellent at what they do. Their handling of precision, dynamics, phrasing, rhythm—including mixed meter and the more subtle formal elements—was extremely well-done. It is safe to assume that on our familiar American standards, the conductors of the British Brass Bands could hold their heads with the finest.
Part VII—THE SECTION SYSTEM
Classification of musical ensembles is not a new concept to American music educators. When school groups are categorized for festival adjudication, the categories are normally based on school size. One state may call the big school category "A," and the small school category "D." Another may use all "A's," "1-A" for the small school and "4-A" for the big school.
With the British Brass Bands the categories are referred to as "Sections." Originally the top bands occupied slots in "First Section," followed by "Second Section," etc. That system has persevered with one exception: Now the First Section is called—somewhat reverently— "Championship Section." It would be assumed that in the British Brass Band world all that really mattered was getting into, and winning, the "Championship Section," but a colorful character in a second section band set the record straight: "The bands in championship section are forced to play music that is much too dissonant for our crowds. Championship section? They can have it!"
In early contests all the groups competed against each other. At the first contest in 1853 at Belle Vue, Manchester, called to this day "The British Open," there were a total of only eight bands capable of traveling to the contest site. Half a century later, in 1902, the band business had grown to the point that a national contest was held at the Crystal Palace in London. By this time a set of rules had been formulated, one of which described an organization of bands by quality, or the Section System.
First Section For the 1000-Guinea Cup
Second Section For bands wishing to be eligible to compete In the First Section next year
Third Section Limited to bands who have not won a cash prize exceeding 15 Pounds Sterling in value
Fourth SectionLimited to bands who have not won a cash prize Exceeding six Pounds Sterling in value
So it was indeed possible to climb into a higher section. Many bands, however, were perfectly content to remain in a familiar slot—as they are today—but for the ambitious ones, there was certainly an avenue of ascendancy.
As an example, in the late 1970's the Leyland Vehicles Band (Third Section) provided one rather striking example. With nationalization of the company came a desire to upgrade the band's—and consequently the company's—image. Conductor Richard Evans, newly-hired with contractual assumptions, came to his first rehearsal and addressed his men: "Gentlemen, I have been hired to develop a championship band, and that is what I intend to do. There won't be any auditions to see which of you stay and which of you leave, but if you do not feel that you have the talent or dedication to contribute to a championship section band, you may want to step aside so that the rest of us can move forward."
The system that featured rather rigid strata was not so firmly fixed as to prevent movement. In the minimum of two years the Leyland band under Richard Evans moved from third to first section, a most unusual rise.
Comparison with American Bands
Let's draw up an imaginary section system based on the kinds of bands we have in America: Championship Section—Conservatories; Major Universities; D.C. Service Bands
Second Section—State and Major Private Universities; Regional Universities; Military Academies
Third Section—Small Colleges; Major High Schools
Fourth Section—Small High Schools; Advanced Junior Highs
Players in all these bands take pride in the music they play, and so do the players in the British Brass Bands. In the words of a tuba player in a fourth section band, "One time our band made third place in a regional contest, but I am happy to announce that since that time we have drifted back to normal."
There was one report of another fourth section band made up of all senior citizen pensioners who never won a single contest.. .they never bothered to go! Equipped with walking canes, tri-focals and dentures, all they wanted to do was play. "Contests are for kids!" they chided.
Criticisms of Sections
At the other end of the spectrum, contests are crucial. There are those who would enjoy a separate super section for the tight circle of bands that seem to end up in the winner's circle forcing the lesser "Championship Section" bands to ride home carrying the short end of the proverbial stick.
In a letter to the editor of the BRITISH BANDSMAN, a lower-section conductor wrote: "... As a conductor of a youth band I am becoming increasingly aware of the differences in the amount of prize money awarded through the various sections at contests. Surely, it is about time that the prize money be the same throughout the sections...."
To such criticism the typical bandsman would be quick to answer: "The top prize money is there for any band willing and able to earn it." On the other side of the coin was a letter from a former director whose band suffered the unintended, unexpected misfortune of being promoted to the championship section. So dwarfed was his group by the new standard of excellence that the morale, and eventually the group itself collapsed and faded into oblivion. There again, in the words of a veteran, "If it's too hot in the championship 'kitchen,' there's no rule that says you have to stay there. That's what the section system is all about."
Douglas Smith is a Professor of Church Music at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville KY, where he has taught since 1975. His arrangements for various instrumental combinations have been published by DESPUB, Broadman Press, Theodore Presser, Lorenz, Hope Publishing Co., and several others. He holds the B.S. degree from Carson-Newman College, the M.M.E. from the University of North Texas and the D.M.A. from the University of Michigan.
THE ANT AND THE CONTACT LENS
A True Story
Brenda was almost halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff. She was standing on a ledge where she was taking a breather during this, her first rock climb. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens. "Great", she thought. "Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry."
She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge. But it just wasn't there.
She felt the panic rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she might find her contact lens.
When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm now that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of the bible verse "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth."
She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me."
Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"
Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!
The story doesn't end there. Brenda's father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it, and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it for You."
I think it would do all of us some good to say, "God, I don't know why You want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it's awfully heavy. But, if You want me to carry it, I will."
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
Yes, I do love GOD. He is my source of existence and my Savior. He keeps me functioning each and every day Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him....I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)
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WORDS TO LIVE BY...
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"Don't give up. Moses was once a basket case."
"Prevent truth decay. Brush up on your Bible."
"The best vitamin for a Christian is B1."
"Under same management for over 2000 years."
"Soul food served here."
"Tithe if you love Jesus! Anyone can honk!"
"Beat the Christmas rush, come to church this Sunday!"
"Don't wait for the hearse to take you to church."
"Life has many choices, Eternity has two. What's yours?"
"Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due."
"Wal-Mart isn't the only saving place!"
"It's hard to stumble when you're down on your knees."
"What part of 'THOU SHALT NOT' don't you understand?"
"A clear conscience makes a soft pillow."
"The wages of sin is death. Repent before payday."
"Never give the devil a ride. He will always want to drive."
"Can't sleep? Try counting your blessings."
"Forbidden fruit creates many jams."
"Christians, keep the faith...but not from others!"
"Satan subtracts and divides. God adds and multiplies."
"If you don't want to reap the fruits of sin stay out of the devil's orchard."
"To belittle is to be little."
"Don't let the littleness in others bring out the littleness in you."
"God answers knee mail."
"Try Jesus. If you don't like Him, the devil will always take you back."
God Has A Positive Answer
You say: “It’s impossible”
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)
You say: “I’m always worried and frustrated”
God says: Cast all your care on Me (I Peter 5:7)
You say: “I feel all alone”
God says: I will never leave you or for sake you (Hebrews 13:5b)
You say: “I’m not able”
God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)
by David E. Smith