Essay on rehearsal technique and the problems encountered with

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by satchmo shaz, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    Hi guys I have to do an essay on rehearsal technique and the problems encountered with

    amateur musicians, etc. from a conductors point of view, I wondered if any of you have any ideas and especially as players

    cheers Shaz

    PS it might promote some interesting discussion too;)
  2. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Yeah, but I think we'll need separate threads for conductors and players....:biggrin:
  3. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Surely as a fine purveyor of both elements you would only need one thread for your comments.

    Must lie down, just complimented my bro zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
  4. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    Maybe passworded sections.....we don't want every bandsmen what us stick wagglers have to say?
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    :eek: ... I'll kick-start this discussion! What the conductor needs first is PATIENCE!

    (... and everyone can tell me why ... ;) )
  6. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    I totally agree:) as well as people management skills
  7. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Time management skills are also essential to a proper rehearsal. Even if you're devoting an entire rehearsal to one piece (say a test piece before a contest), the MD must ensure that he give all of the bits the proper amount of time without cheating other bits of the time that they require.

    Used to have an MD who was quite brilliant, but often rehearsed things in sections and NEVER played them down from top to bottom. Usually not the best idea to play something all the way through for the first time in performance!
  8. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Sorry for the digression, but could someone explain why the pictured ads are at the bottom of this thread?

    I thought these ads were supposed to be intelligent!
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2008
  9. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    I agree with the people skills. It is essential that an MD knows how to deal with the different characters in the band in order to get the best from them. Confidence and a good presence is needed. It's hard to describe "presence". Some people will stand up in front of a group of people and just have instant respect - it's to do with body language and psychology.
  10. HBB

    HBB Active Member

  11. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    it was a serious comment ben :tongue: Not everyone can stand up infront of a group of people and teach them something no matter how much knowledge they might have about the subject.
  12. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    (I think Ben might have been referring to the post before yours, Ms. Quavers ;) )

    I agree totally with your point. This is the reason that the best player more often than not wouldn't make the best MD.
  13. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    doh :rolleyes:
  14. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    From a player's POV, it is critical that a conductor is open to observation. A quiet word from a senior pro can solve the most awkward of problems. Our current MD is good about this, and where I have made quiet observations in his shell like, he considers, and if he considers it necessary will act. A conductor can't afford to throw their toys out of the pram if things don't go their way. Personally, I'm one from two on toy throwing...

    That's not to say that everytime I suggest something to him he MUST take it - quite the opposite, as it's his ball so to speak, but if he does act when someone makes a more public suggestion it does mean that he is seen to be approachable.

    From an MD's POV, I find I have to make my expectations realistic, and not expect to shape a lower section band to my way of thinking overnight. I am a fervent believer in the stick going down on time, but people always seem to take a few weeks to get used to this. I also work on the lines that when my stick is up people are ready. (Less time waste = longer interval/more drinking time) I also have to accept that not everyone is as fluent a sight reader as (say) LBB or me.

    The thing that I find most upsetting as a conductor is that people talk behind your back. I was absolutely livid to find out that I had been criticised at a committee meeting that I had missed, and the chair was "going to speak to me". When I saw the minutes at the next meeting, the chair hadn't spoken to me and couldn't remember who had raised the point, or what it was about.

    If people won't talk directly to the MD for any reason, then the issue should be raised immediately with the Chair, who should raise the issue with the MD asap.

    All these frustrations noted, I will take on a band at some point in the future- probably when I've retired from work and can do all the necessary prep.
  15. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Righty-oh! .... people management skills are required by all conductors ... in professional or amateur set-ups! I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the variances you get in amateur groups. By that, I mean the differences between players in technical ability, control and musicianship. The MD should have the necessary skills to correct, maintain and improve awareness of standards required to express a piece of music put on the stand without destroying the confidence of individuals at fault. Balancing a rehearsal so that players can have a worthwhile blow without stopping and starting too often to correct is a skill in itself for most bandmasters. The stick waggler must appreciate the limitations of the players he has control over, be friendly enough to sustain rapore and be respected so that he/she can influence them to better goals.

    Another important factor in my opinion is how knowledgable the conductor is regarding remedial actions for players with playing difficulties and the best course to fix them. In professional ensembles or orchestras, the players have a certain standard they must be above to minimise the amount of work the MD has to do. Why else are they selected for their job? In brass bands, the majority do not have this luxury and MDs have to accomodate this. In this sense, the MD can be rightfully seen as a band trainer in every respect, not only teaching music skills but helping with basic performance problems too.
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    It is obviously hard to generalise, and of course the definition of "amateur" is very broad, encompassing everything from the top level, where the performance standard may equal that of many professional groups, down to the community band meeting for a bit of fun.

    Amongst the difficulties likely to be encountered are poor concentration levels, considerable differences in playing standards within the group, and variance in the level of theory/musicianship shown. If you have players with a poor grasp of music theory, then different techniques and vocabulary will be needed if the conductor is to put across clearly what they are trying to achieve. Where playing standards vary, it can be hard to balance the desire to get particular passages played correctly with the need for all players to be involved and interested in the rehearsal: for example, if there is a difficult passage for one section of the band, you are unlikely to be able to spend too long on getting it right if it means the rest of the band are kicking their heels (I'm reminded of the conductor - may have been Beecham? - who spent half a practice getting the 8-cello opening of "William Tell" right).

    Another area of difference may be in the music selected: professionals can by and large be expected to play whatever is put in front of them - they may not like it, but they will at least give it their full attention and concentration in rehearsal. With an amateur group, there may be much more resistance encountered, and consequent disruption to the rehearsal process, either deliberate or inadvertant.
  17. HunkySteve

    HunkySteve Member

    The point about Band Trainers is indeed a very important one IMO. Until a band gets to Championship - and top half of that section at that - there is a big difference in the job of the MD. Band trainers are a breed apart from excellent conductors, although there are some that seem to have both skillsets in abundance and they are special people. But an excellent conducter does not have to explain what they want to their musicians. The musicians playing for a conductor should know by now, or shouldnt be in the band. SO it then comes down to how the conductor wants the piece playing (tempo, style, colour etc). ALl the social graces of Attilla the Hun are vested in such conductors, who are not known for their tolerance of incompetence on any scale. To the point that next rehearsal there could well be someone else in the unfortunate incompetent's chair.

    Band trainers on the other hand do not have to be such classy conductors, on the basis that you cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear. They do however need to have a thorough grasp of what makes people tick, for the reasons in earlier posts, and how the actual instruments are handled. Together with practical skills on how certain effects can be achieved and/or "synthesised" in a competition or performance to cover a shortfall in the skills of the players in a section. We know what we mean by that dont we peeps. No? Judicious use of large bass drum to enhance the sound of a weak Bb Bass contingent is an example then. The conductor would not care or possibly even know how to cover up shortfalls. JFDI. (Just Do It)

    As a pretty average amateur Euph and Trom player, I would rather play for a band trainer than a conductor as the latter is a *very* stressful experience for me, as opposed to a *somewhat* stressful one (although enjoyable usually) unless you are fortunate enough to have a pair of "comfy slippers" to help you along.

    IN Long Eaton, I am fortunate enough to have both (Band Trainer and Comfy SLippers)

    Comfy SLippers I hear you murmer through sleep-encrusted eyelids? They are a sympathetic and much better technical player than yourself who sits alongside, preferably playing the same part.

    Time for my Nap.
  18. lewis

    lewis Member

    I've always found it a great quality in a conductor if they are approachable. If they can approach their job at the same level as the players I think they are onto a winner.
  19. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    I've known a couple of conductors who have gone in withthis exact attitude in mind. They've ended up having to step down because they ended up with too much slack in the leash, and being dominated by those who abuse the approachability of their conductor. They begin forcing the repertoire, setting their own rehearsal times, and jumping from instrument to instrument, because they're "trying to help the band."

    Make suggestions sure. But at the end of the night, its the guy with the stick who needs to decide "what's good for the band".
  20. lewis

    lewis Member

    I completely agree, it just always stirkes me as a brilliant thing when you can level with a conductor, not be petrified of them.

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