Brass Band rehearsals

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Gazabone, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Gazabone

    Gazabone Member

    Here's an interesting topic for discussion (well, I think it's quite interesting anyway!).  Why, when brass bands rehearse, do they go into anything like the detail they do?  For example, a recall a practice on "Between the Moon and Mexico" for teh '98 finals where 45 minutes was spent on just 40 bars of music

    When rehearsing for a contest, most bands spend a great many hours in the band room working to get the highest standard of performance they can achieve.  Even when it comes to concert pieces where listeners are unlikely to be as critical (in a constructive way!) as a contest adjudicator, a fair bit of work goes in.

    However, other groups I've played with (big bands and orchestras etc), do little more than a couple of run throughs and then it's ready to go.  Yet, the standard of performance is still pretty good.  A big band that play with was formed for less than a year, had 6 rehearsals, did 4 gigs and then recorded a CD putting down 23 tracks in less than 6 hours - and it's a very high standard of playing.

    Here's a few thoughts to get you going;

    1. "Other" groups tend to be quite narrow in the style of music they play so it's a lot easier to gel - brass bands on the other hand try to be very eclectic so adapting to different styles takes a lot more practice.

    2. Maybe something to do with the mix of insruments - brass bands being all brass may make faults in ensemble playing more apparent.

    3. Brass Bands tend to have a wider ability mix in it their players.

    Over to you........
  2. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    Edinburgh, Scotland
    My gut feeling based on my own similar experience is (and I know I am going to get slapped for this) most good brass band players are good technicians at executing the score, but they are not good musicians at being able to interpret it. Therefore they need more musical direction than most good amateur orchestral or jazz musicians.

    Also, the range of music being played in a brass band is wider so people have no idiom to lock into style wise. For example, if I go to play Beethoven 5 or a Bach Cantata or Vaughan Williams 2 I know exactly what that should sound like. Its not as clear cut with a film score transcription for brass band or a test piece - there may be more than one style needed within the piece.
  3. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    A pub, Surrey, UK
    I don't think I can take credit for this observation (I believe it was MoominDave who made the point initially in another thread, but I thought it was spot-on at the time), but one consideration is that the degree of rhythmic and ensemble precision towards which brass bands strive is highly prized by brass band players, (and indeed is generally considered a "pre-requisite" for successful contest performance), whereas it isn't generally considered so important in performance by other ensemble disciplines. I have played in amateur/semi-pro orchestras of a quite high standard generally, where certain passages have been played in what we would think of as an "untogether" (is that a word?) fashion. When I have raised this with other section members, the reaction has been along the lines of "so what?". Not so much that they don't care, but more that the focus was much more on the overall shape of the musical performance.

    Just another angle ...
  4. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Brisbane, Australia
    Also, many bandsmen even at reasonably high levels, have little or no formal training, something I don't come across so much when I play for amateur big bands and orchestras.

    GJG (and MMD of course) makes a good point, I often cringe at well-respected orchestra recordings and wonder why they didn't backtrack and fix some of the rhythmic ensemble work. I can believe we have different priorities!

    I blame contests and propose their immediate prohibition :D
  5. subtlevib

    subtlevib Member

    Rugby, Warwickshire
    I agree with GordonH - many band players are self-taught, have had little or no formal training and just generally don't understand basic stuff, though they can practise it and learn it parrot-fashion. There are many also who have had formal training who haven't maintained the discipline. Still, the vast majority of bandsman don't claim to be anything else - we're an amateur set-up in the most part.
  6. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I agree - bands tend to concentrate on the "vertical" aspects of a score such as ensemble, rhythmic accuracy and tuning often to the detriment of the "horizontal" aspects such as musical line, phrasing and the overall structure of a piece of music.

    And, to be fair, it's an approach that often yields good results at contests. Not so sure it does much for developing the general standard of musicianship, though.
  7. brianatb

    brianatb Member

    Well put.:clap:
  8. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    Edinburgh, Scotland
    A recurring problem I have had is going into contests only having played through the test piece all the way through two or three times. There was one band which was very bad for this. It leads to geography catastrophes as the repeats and transitions are rather important parts of the score!
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