Thursday, May 2, 2013

Small Band Tip 2. Guest blog by Patrick Neff.

Two Tips in one week! This one is a tip from my friend Patrick Neff. Patrick has thirteen years experience working with small bands. I asked him to guest blog and share some tips with us. He came back with advice on picking music for small bands and I think it's the perfect time to post it. I know I'm busy trying to pick just the right music and I'll be putting some of this to use.

Band tip of the week:
Remember when picking music for your fall show you have lots of things to consider and keep in mind:
1-your audience. You don't always pick music for your audience but if you are looking for support in the community it is important that the crowd is invested some way at least some of the time. If your show is unique and doesn't play to the crowd then You certainly need to pick some stand tunes that will appeal to the audience.

2-Consider the band. I always approach the band with multiple ideas that I have thought of for shows for the next year and get their feedback. I dont always use their advice but I at least keep it in the back of my mind because if they like it then they will sell it to people in school and it helps recruit both for the band and the flags.

3-I do think about what judges will say and think about the show selection to a degree. I have been labeled by some as a rock show person which is funny since I have done Latin jazz twice, phantom of the opera, movie themes twice, and rock shows four times that had various themes. But I have never done a "stand tunes" show like I have seen before.

4-and this is the most important one: Can your band play it?!
I can't tell you how many times I have seen people pick shows that have elements in them that their bands just cannot pull off. I hear "well it wasn't hard when we played it in high school!" Those are the kiss of death words that if you find yourself saying you might just be rationalizing your choice and not making a good decision for your group.
Make sure the arrangements aren't too big for the ensemble either. Such as just because you have three trumpets doesn't mean you can play a song that has three trumpet parts! I have had college bands that couldn't play "big" arrangements just because of he size if the group. It's not the children's capabilities sometimes....sometimes you are limited by numbers and must keep that in mind.

5-and as a side "note" yes pun intended....if there are two versions of a song on the market and you are deciding which to get I say go with the easiest of the two and add to it as your group progresses. I have found that it is easier than "watering down" music.

Just some of my philosophies when choosing music for my bands. I hope this Helps in some way!

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