On the spot

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Queeg2000, Feb 19, 2018.

  1. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,093
    I've noticed our MD is red hot on getting players counting, including one exercise where the players have to count silently, then come in together on a single note in a bar, which changes from one bar to the next. Any miscounting or errors in tempo on their part show up immediately. He also regularly has them playing a piece out of the Red Hymn Book - but playing the whole piece in quavers. Again, any errors in timing show up straight away. The point, he tells them, is to get them to count in quavers, even if they're playing crotchets, minims or semi-breves - as he points out that this won't just help them to come in on the correct beat after a rest, but also to get the note lengths accurate.

    It certainly seems to work.
     
  2. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Active Member

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    I've found that counting rests is definitely the hardest part after a 30 year break. I've taken to looking at the parts of other sections who come in a but earlier to check my counting. For example one piece I have 14 bars rest, the trombone section have ten bars rest. If I am counting bar 9 when they come in, I know my count is out.
     
    Jack E likes this.
  3. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,093
    I was given that tip, Queeg, and found it an enormous help. The old hand who passed it on to me had a fourteen bar rest, too - so he said he didn't bother to start counting until the other section came in, and then he only had three bars to count.
     
  4. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Active Member

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    I wouldn't say it was a solution to not counting rests correctly, but it's working as a temporary work around until I remember what number comes after 3. Just kidding I know it's 7 and two thirds.
     
  5. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Well-Known Member

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    The conductor's role is to direct the band to achieve the desired musical outcome. An important part of the job is to ensure that players enter confidently at the appropriate time and in the appropriate style. Agree that this isn't a substitute for counting.
    I'd be very suspicious of a conductor that is dogmatic about not needing to support entries.
    Watch any well-respected conductor and you will see that much of their activity is giving cues (often just subtle eye contact).
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
  6. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

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    Do we have to keep using the word 'coax' I don't want my conductor 'coaxing' anything out of me....... ;)
     
  7. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Well-Known Member

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    Am I missing something? Does the word have a dubious meaning?
     
  8. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

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    No... It's just a word I am not a fan of.. We all have those right? And I had to put a winking face cause it didn't have laughing crying face...

    Sorry back to topic at hand........
     
  9. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Well-Known Member

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    Ah I see. I had a fear that there was an urban / local meaning that I wasn't aware of (and should be to avoid embarrassment). :)
     
  10. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

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    Haha nope! Don't panic its my equivalent of some peoples 'moist' ...
     
  11. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

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    You may change your opinion after watching Dave King conduct B&R. He gives every cue to every player every time....
     
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  12. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
    Germany
    A lot of points here about the Conductor - for me, there is a difference in the MD's role depending on the level the band is at. I see the role as being much more than just conducting and a good lower section MD needs to be a trainer and motivator first. Some things that have worked for me include:
    - getting them to understand that the band they have to beat at a contest is themselves ie. be better than we were last time. The results aren't as important.
    - never rehearse an individual, rehearse the section to ensure they don't feel they are being highlighted
    - hymns in quavers really does help and I always notice a significant difference in the band playing together afterwards
    - humour: make the rehearsals fun
    - a phrase I use a lot when talking about latin tempo directions: they all mean watch Andy! One less thing for them to worry about.
    - accept that life gets in the way and they can't always practice enough at home so be prepared to say the same things again next week.
    Finally, put the same effort into concerts as contests - don't change the approach for contests and then slacken off for that park gig. Get their confidence to be a habit and not just a contest day thing.
    Changing mindsets is a key skill at this level of banding imho.
     
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  13. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Well-Known Member

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    I agree with most of your points.
    Whilst the one above sounds sensible on the surface, I find it really frustrating as a player. If I'm the one playing out of time or tune (or whatever), I want to know it's me so I can adjust. Otherwise we're all left guessing and potentially making things worse.

    There will be players that need your approach otherwise it will knock their confidence, but for many, the direct approach works best.

    I guess this leads to another item to be added to the list - 'know the players'.
     
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  14. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

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    714
    Location:
    Germany
    Indeed - and one can be subtle about ensuring the individual knows it is them without putting them individually on the spot. I think there is also a role for section leaders here too.
     
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  15. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

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    But saying that 9 times out of 10 surely you are aware if it is you not in time etc? So even if he approach's the section you can be like that was me? Or at least know it was you..?
     
  16. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Well-Known Member

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    Following that logic, a piece would only ever need to be played through twice before perfection; once for players to notice their errors and a second to self-correct them.
     
  17. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    In theory, yes - but I can well believe that if there are several less-experienced players, those who are in time may not be certain of that, and think they need to change - in which case you could have players within one section coming in sooner, or later, than they should, because they think they were the ones who are wrong, whilst the player who actually was out of time carries on being out of time because they think it was one of the others who was wrong . . .

    Shades of the old Army joke, about the proud mother watching her son's regiment on parade, and saying to her friend:
    "Look at that - my boy's the only one in the Regiment who's in step!"

    I think 4th Cornet nailed it - "Know the players." When the conductor does know the players, they can tailor their guidance, instructions, corrections, etc. accordingly. A newbie will often require something to be explained in detail, whereas a more experienced player will only need a brief hint, and will take it from there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
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  18. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Well-Known Member

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    Or the woman who phoned her husband to warn of a news report that a car was travelling the wrong on the motorway that she knew he was on...to which he replied, "it's not just one car, it's all of them!" :)
     
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  19. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,093
    Yep - I believe that has really happened at least once! :D
     
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  20. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Active Member

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    This rings a bell. At Christmas, I was sure I could here a wrong note, and having not played in a long time, it just had to be me that was doing it. Couldn't fathom out how until I looked around and spotted someone playing an F# on their first valve!
     
    Jack E likes this.
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