Monday, April 29, 2013

Small Band Tip of the Day

Today I thought I'd throw out a tip of the day for small band directors. I won't claim to be a phenomenal band director but I've had to get creative everywhere I've been and I thought I'd share the smidgeon that I know. Today's tip concerns guitars.

If you have a guitar in your band, and you should its 2013 after all, then you can easily use them to cover the oboe part. Lets face it, the odds of finding a guitar player are way higher than finding an oboe player in a rural school. And truthfully with the way music programs are shrinking I don't feel that we can turn guitar players away. I have two. Depending on the piece I have them either cover the missing oboe part, missing bell parts, or occasionally double the flutes. It's a very versatile instrument with a wide range. The other advantage is that guitars tune way better than oboes.

If you have an electric bass, and I really think you should as it adds tremendous depth, then you can use them to double the trombones, baritones, or the bassoon. Some pieces will have a part for a stand up bass and quite a few publishers have started publishing stand tunes with bass parts. Tuba parts don't work as well since they're written an octave down from where the guitar plays. If there isn't a bass part I tend to assign them to the bassoon part. If the piece doesn't call for a bassoon I go for either the trombone or baritone depending on whichever closest matches the tuba line.

If you'd like more tips on using guitars in your band then check out my book "Three Chords and Prayer". It's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Teachers Pay Teachers and Smashwords. Check it out. Help me spread the word. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments section.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Afternoon project

So, you all know that after a lifetime of being a lazy couch potato I've turned into my father. By that I mean I have a hard time sitting still. I don't mean that I've become a hippy. No, seriously the man has long hair, throws up the peace sign everywhere he goes and is still protesting Vietnam. For better or for worse I seem to have inherited the desire to tinker endlessly. Oftentimes my skills don't come close to matching my desire. Tory was a little different. We're almost done with Winterguard for the season and after a ton of help and support from TCA I decided it was time to say thank you. What is Winterguard and TCA? The only way I can describe Winterguard is flag line to the power of awesome. TCA is our local independent group of which my guards teacher is a member. They run an excellent camp every summer for local color guards as well as help everyone in the area at competitions. They're the first ones to show up to help lug equipment, always have a kind word for the performers and are just generally good people. Sadly, they are also lacking in a cart to drag around their gear including a hundred plus pound floor cover. Well, were lacking. I thought that a nice way to thank them for everything they do was to build them one. Now, again, I am not a master carpenter but I do know how to measure and cut. Off to Lowes we go! Sorry Dave. Just not a Home Depot fan.

Saturday felt like a great day to do dude stuff like work out, go shooting or roll with the guys. Alas, none of those were to be. So Johnathon and I headed to Simmons in search of bullets and then onto Lowes to make a shopping list to present to Whitney. The search for rounds was a success. The search for a speed loader still not so much. The shopping list was quickly made however and emailed to Whitney who agreed to meet me at Lowes this morning to buy the stuff. I almost talked myself out of the job since I found a floor dolly on sale for not much more than I could build it for. I think in the end they opted to go with me building them one just to make me feel useful but I'm glad they did. It was actually a good bit of fun and its satisfying getting to handmade something for someone. All totaled the materials cost about $75 and took an hour or so to put together. As you can see from the pictures the dogs even got in on the action. Now it just needs a paint job but I'll leave that for someone more creative than me. Not bad I think for a guy with a cold huh?

Were it not for music, we might in these days say, the Beautiful is dead. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Strange fact: Your ribs move about 5 million times a year, every time you breathe!

“But often some secret thought lurking within us, or even some outward circumstance, turneth us aside. Many are secretly seeking their own ends in what they do, yet know it not. They seem to live in good peace of mind so long as things go well with them, and according to their desires, but if their desires be frustrated and broken, immediately they are shaken and displeased. Diversity of feelings and opinions very often brings about dissensions between friends, between countrymen, between religious and godly men.”

Excerpt From:Thomas a Kempis. “The Imitation of Christ.”