Can your band take stage direction?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by tubafran, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Killamarsh are including Show Me The Way To Go Home (Sandy Smith arrangement) in a concert tonight. The score includes stage directions for the piece to be used as a first encore - the band leave the stage except for the trombones - who then play a few tuning notes etc then pick up the tune - separate sections of the band enter to join in until everyone is back on stage and the sop gets to play just the last note.

    This was explained to the band at rehearsal and we've had a few runs through tweaking the directions - bit of acting from front row cornets and running on at end to play the last note late etc. I'm not sure whether this will come off but where's the difficulty in adding some simple band movements to a performance? Is it lack of practice or just people not wanting "to make fools" of themselves?

    At our recent Christmas concerts we've included Cornet by Candlelight where we have a table with lit candle and two chairs and the principal cornet then invites a female member of the audience to sit while he serenades her with the solo - just towards the end there's a break in the music and he gets out the mistletoe, gets a kiss or snog dependant on the victim. We also do the full beer kellar actions for Snow Waltz - left, right, forward, back, up and down (ala Bavarian Stompers). Both of these pieces get a great response from the audience.

    So do you do anything other than just play and what other pieces are suitable for some actions?
  2. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    A good one to do is
    Jamies Patrol: When the big tune comes in half way through our conductor turns to the audience and waves "Good bye" then the cornet section follow ,trombones , horns 2nd Baritone, Solo Baritone, Bb Basses, Euphs , 1 Eb Bass, keep going for another 30 secs then other Eb Bass, just leaving the side drum been played getting quieter and quieter.
    This is a great finisher to any concert.:clap: :tup
  3. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Have done that one and I think Berne Patrol is similar - especially good at end of first half - get to bar before audience :guiness
  4. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Fortunately I've never had to. :) I find this 'showmanship' type stuff a bit over the top for my liking and would decline to play in any concert that included it. I've always felt embarrassed for any bands that I have seen performing that way. :)
  5. Cornishwomble

    Cornishwomble Active Member

    you've obviously never seen the like of Grimethorpe doing it then, they are far from "over the top" or embarrassing. And surely isn't showmanship part of entertaining and aren't brass bands in the habit of providing entertainment to audiences?
  6. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Any Patrol March works well for that, Except Stanford Robinson's British Grenadiers where the whole band has to play the last note!

    Plus, being a bass, I'm ususally the last one off the stage. :(

    JR used to have us doing allsorts when he got the chance. Our party Piece at used to be starting with just basses on stage, playing the march from "Pines of rome" Everone else walked on in sections, playing parts from memory, gradually filling up the band as natural crescendo established itself. top man and 2nd man down coming in from the corners playing the repeated phrases before JR walked on for the loud section and finale.

    To finish with, we did "America" and "Somewhere" from west side story. (JR's Idea again.) Half way through 'Somewhere' The cornets would stand up, line up kneeling along the front of the stage, and point the bells of their instruments at the floor. as the piece continued to crescendo, they'd stand up and point out at the audience. Then in the natural pause toward the end, The rest of the band stood, JR left the stage, and we walked out whilst still playing, eventually ending up with the whole band (Except concussion section) lined up along the front of the stage, basses in the middle, euphs and trombones to one side, tenor horns and baritones to the other, cornets on the flanks playing the finale from memory.

    It only took half an afternoon in a school hall to sort out both of these whilst on tour, and audiences loved it, every time. The main thing is getting your mind into the set of being part of a show, not being a musician. Entertainment can be about so much more than just playing well. Good stage prescence and good musicianship make a great combination.

    PS anyone ever done Goff Richards' "When the saints go marching in?" Half way through, you stand up and sing harmonies! It's brilliant!
  7. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Well as we say at our band
    Entertain the Audience and they will come back for more tell there firnds about it and in the end you end up with concerts worth doing i.e
    Almost full venues:clap: instead of half full venues:( nothing worse than that or hardly anyone in the audience does not inspire you to play at all just go through the motions
  8. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Although we haven't done what the previous replies have mentioned (not yet anyway!) we have done one or two where various sections of the band stand up to perform their little part in pieces like Call of the Cossacks and Puttin on the Ritz. However, at all Christmas concerts we have audience participation. Either adults or childeren will conduct the band on Jingle Bells, goes down great and the 'guest conductor' receives a selection box as a prize.
  9. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    You could be right and I am missing something. :) But then again I wouldn't expect to see the LSO march about. I want to listen to good music, played well not watch a 'show'. Still each to their own. Good luck with your performance. :D
  10. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    I've used Haydn's Farewell Symphony to get the band off stage - the parts are marked for people to leave (including the conductor) and coupled with telling the story about the fact this piece was composed as a form of protest at pay and conditions, the first departure usually gets a laugh.

    As for do the band follow directions, I'll answer that after next week's christmas concert!
  11. zak

    zak Member

    Everyone has their "own" interpretation of entertainment and I certainly would not say we (Grimethorpe) are over the top and embarrassing judging by the capacity audiences everywhere we play. Try coming to one of our concerts sometime and listen to the reaction of the people around you. You may find that you might be in the minority on your opinion of entertainment but everyone is entitled to their views. :tup :tup :tup

    Ps.... It's possible to play at a high standard AND put on a show!!!!!!
  12. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    I may well be in the minority, nothing new there. I'm sure that Grimethorpe would play to full houses regardless of the 'show' elements of their performances. I have seen many top bands and orchestras at the Royal Albert Hall (free tickets helped) and all were good and didn't need to do anything other than play to entertain. When I want to see 'movement' at a performance I go and see the best Military Bands in the World. (Royal Marines, for any that may not know ;) ) I think it's a shame that Brass Bands feel the need for what I consider pure 'cheese'! I accept I could be wrong, I have been before. :D
  13. zak

    zak Member

    We will have to agree to differ on this one but i respect your opinion. The point I make is that entertainment is about what people want, and what better way to judge that other than by the audience numbers/reactions. Also, the standard of playing in all our so called "show" pieces is extremely high as confirmed in our music marks at the recent Spennymoor Contest, 197 out of 200. Cheers
  14. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Further to my original post I can confirm that "showmanship" for our planned encore went down well. Our audience always expect an encore and at the end of a well received (and sell out) concert the conductor told them that x was our final piece. The majority of the band then filed off leaving the trombones and basses on stage - one or two audience members were up and getting their coats at this point and heading for the door.

    The trombones then start tootalling a few notes before playing the theme to "show me the way to go home". As the basses then join in the audience got the joke and joined in singing. Rest of the band got back on stage at the right times and this piece really did make a fine ending to the concert - then played the proper encore Jingle Bells (Derek Ashmore's).

    Just a separte comment in respect of Rapier's views on this and the suggestion that orchestras "don't need to do anything other than play to entertain" - I'd agree as I can't see that for example the trombone section standing up in the middle of a piece of Beethoven would add anything to the music what so ever - however how would you describe actions taken by an orchestra after it's finished playing?

    Conductor bows,:clap: :clap: , turns to orchestra and gestures all to stand, :clap: , orchestra sits, turns to orchestra and gestures to various soloists to stand, :clap: , then motions to each section in turn to stand, :clap: . Conductor walks off, :clap: , then returns, more :clap: :clap: , orchestra stand again ad infinitum for more :clap: . Gets even better when there's a featured instrumental concerto - soloist going on and off too. Finally principal violin leaves and now we know it's all over. Now I'd call that "showmanship":rolleyes: .
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2005
  15. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Anyone who's seen one of Stavanger Band's concerts will know that it is possible to play interesting and challenging concerts to the highest musical standards while still incorporating plenty of showmanship. Their concert after the Open in 2004 was an object lesson in how to do this; playing entirely from memory they played bits of Hymn of the Highlands and West Side Story complete with intelligent and appropriate choreography without (as far as I could tell) putting a foot wrong or playing a single wrong note. It's the future.....
  16. englishgill

    englishgill Member

    Anyone who's ever seen Mnozil Brass (7 piece from Austria) would have to agree that what makes them fantastic concert performers is their showmanship. Individually they are all technically fantastic players but its the stories they tell through the music as well as their comic timing that make them so great to watch and listen to. Bohemian Rhapsody has never been so great to experience as it was during their appearance at the Albert Hall after the nationals in October - if only I was able to do a small amount of what they do I would be very happy.
  17. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    And of course, the brilliance of "Blast" - not least for the unicycling trombone and the trumpet player being lowered from the ceiling on a chair
  18. Cornishwomble

    Cornishwomble Active Member

    Sorry to say you are a bit wrong, whilst in the navy I played with Royal Marine bands for 16 years and they often do a bit of choreography in certain gigs.

    And how would you class it when Military bands put on formation marches, is that not a sort of showmanship?
  19. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    Sounds like you play in my band! They won't play cheese because they don't like playing it! They don't give a monkey's if its what the audience want to hear! We've got our xmas concert tomorrow and as far as I can see they're NO cheese for the audience to sing along too except for a few carols from the carol book! I've only been playing two years but have been too a christmas concert every year of my life (probably!) and I don't wanna listen too boring music, I want happy stuff! Audiences of the run of the mill 3rd section band want entertaining not educating, right?
  20. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Erm? That's what I said. Royal Marines displays etc fantastic. Perfect precision moves, great music. Showmanship, certainly. (slightly biased here. Dad was an RM Bugle Sergeant for 26 years and I was a drummer in the RM Cadet band at Eastney Barracks).
    Brass bands though, (and it is ONLY MY OPINION) don't need to indulge in theatrical performances. It's as if we can't be accepted for our musical ability, like 'proper' musicians!

    Still, each to their own. :D

    Anyway, after the last couple of weeks I'm thinking of packing it in anyway.

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