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Here is one of my favorite topics for the marching arts. As a musician and composer I love the freedom marching band extends to its music in terms of arrangement and orchestration. Let’s take it a step further and put the director in the creative seat.
First read of music – making changes
As you get your show music printed and placed on the stands for the first rehearsals in band camp, I want to encourage you to be open to making changes. Follow your ear. As your students read the chart down identify any problem areas. If you can just absolutely determine that a passage is too hard or that a chord is not long enough make the changes! If it doesn’t sound good by the end of the first week – change it! Easier for you, easier for the students. Your students will enjoy having success.
Reasons to make changes (think General Effect!)
- Cadence chord duration needs to be extended
- Rest needs to be added after an impact as a palette cleanser
- Technical passages need reinforcement or simplification – Plenty of arranging techniques exists for this
- Chords need to be revoiced – You may have all your strongest players on the 3rd of the chord and the root suffers
- Repetitive or unnecessary section – Cut it, keep your total length at the state minimum (See my blog regarding that here.)
This type of creativity is what keeps the music in the marching arts. Band directors should feel comfortable using their ear, intuition and theoretical knowledge to improve the success and effect of their show repertoire. Your students will appreciate your musicality and will take personal investment in their show being tailored to them. It can be a great teaching moment to address arranging and theory.
Keep it simple.
There are plenty of other things to spend your time and energy on throughout the season!