Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Bbmad, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    What pencils do people use at rehearsals?

    My preference is for a classic HB. Does anyone out there have any particular preference themselves? Is it better to carry a separate eraser? And does anyone take the time to customise them? Does everyone in the band have a pencil, or are they communal?

    It would be great to hear from you all!

    I attach a picture of my pencil for you to enjoy.

    Attached Files:

  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    IMHO the classic HB is a good choice, readily available and the 'lead' is soft so it doesn't indent the paper and the deposited graphite is easily removed. The point does wear relatively quickly but that's easy enough to sort out and with the little use 'bandsmen' need of it the pencil the will not be require frequent re-sharpening.

    In my experience seperate rubbers are by far the best. I use seperate soft white rubbers that neither abraid the paper's surface or smudge the graphite deposit, those found on the end of the pencil tend to be of a type that abraid and smudge.

    It is possible to get clips which attach to your stand or instrument and hold your pencil for you. I don't use one myself but understand that others like them - my pencil is in my bag, sometimes I wish it was nearer but haven't found a clip right for my trombone or music stand ..... will look harder soon.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  3. Mr N N Fixer

    Mr N N Fixer Member

    This is really scintillating post-Christmas stuff. I have never really considered what an important part of the musicians 'essentials' a pencil is! Thank you BbMad for drawing this to our attention. I will spend many many hours ruminating over the choice available,and when I have decided on my ideal choice, (having scribbled on various copies of music, old and new) I will certainly let you know.
    Bye bye for now,
    Mr Fixer.
  4. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    HB leads are much too hard. Most music hire companies stipulate that parts are marked with pencil not harder than 2B.
    (please don't make jokes about 2B or not 2B; I've heard them all before ... )
  5. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    All of our parts tend to come with markings already provided by the composer and publisher. There are all manner of useful markings that I have come across over the years: pitch, note-length, tempo, rhythm, dynamics, articulation.

    On the extremely rare occasions that the MD has anything useful to add to the already-provided markings, I use a permanent marker. I attach a photo in case anyone wants to buy a similar one. On the first occasion that we run through a piece in the bandroom, I use my permanent marker to put a great big tick-mark across the page, just in case I forget that we have rehearsed that one and so that I know I don't need to rehearse it at home. I see no need or use for pencils whatsoever.

    My Pen.jpg
  6. T Winch

    T Winch Member

    I don't use a pencil as I'm not allowed sharp objects. I do however have a very nice green Crayola crayon
  7. bsdunek

    bsdunek New Member

    Lucky you! They only allow me a black crayon.
    That aside, I do like a soft pencil for marking music. Have been using an HB, but with the above advice, will try the 2B. And correct about erasers - I like the soft 'gum' erasers. Erase clean and easy on the paper.
  8. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    Green for piano
    Red for forte
    Purple for mute changes

    This is not my colour-scheme but that of one of my teachers when I was young. He always had a collection of pens with him when he was playing and would go through the music before the first run-through marking it all up.
    Never missed a single mute change or dynamic change.

    Personally, I just use an HB and only write lightly.
  9. Johncornetflugel

    Johncornetflugel New Member

    Being an ex MN navigator where courses were forever being drawn in and rubbed out on the navigation charts using anything other than a 2b pencil was considered to be a hanging offence! This habit has continued with me into the brass band world. I may get shot for playing the wrong notes sometimes but I'll never be hanged for using the wrong pencil!
  10. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    I had no idea there was such diversity in the use of writing apparatus in the bandrooms, a whole range of pencils, pens and of all different shapes and colours too. It would be great to see a few more pictures?

    2T, there are a couple of solutions that may be of interest to you:

    This doubles up as protection for your instrument as well. The plus points are that you can take it with your instrument, for example if you need to make notes whilst on the march. However, I have been unable to find a UK supplier so far.

    This is a popular choice for many as it is relatively cheap but does the job required by sticking to your (ferrous metal) music stand. I am unsure as to how practical it might be, might it get in the way of music, for example?

    Another choice of course, is to rest your pencil on the lip of your music stand, or put it in a safe place, such as behind your ear or in your shirt pocket.

    For info, the words i googled were 'trombone pencil holder' its well worth a look as there are loads of options out there.
  11. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  12. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Indeed; in fact, there are other advantages to using a 2B (or even softer - it's actually possible to get 3B and 4B, although these are not commonly available outside of specialist art shops) lead. Softer leads, as well as being easier to erase and not indenting the paper as much, actually show up better in poor light, as the mark is noticeably blacker. Anyone who has spent any time in theatre orchestra pits playing G&S operettas off of old, yellowing part books (one between two) in poor lighting conditions will understand ...
  13. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    I am rather alarmed by this news, for years it seems I have been using a HB pencil, blissfully unaware of the untold damage that I have unwittingly caused. No doubt there must be many bandsmen up and down the country who are feeling vexed by this situation.
  14. DocFox

    DocFox Supporting Member

    I was taught to NEVER use a pencil. It marks the music which may be marked differently later. I addition, the composer wrote the piece -- who is the MD to make changes? If so, make the changes by direction. I don't think I have ever played "Stars and Stripes" the way Sousa wrote it. As an MD, I felt like I was in no place enhance Sousa, Karl King, Beethoven, Williams, etc.

    Now that being said tempos sometimes are up for interpretation. A lessor band would play Melody Shop slower that Black Dyke's recording. The Daring Young Men in the Flying Machines has a similar problem. But I would not have the band mark a tempo or dynamic on the music.
  15. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    That's all very well, but there are many other reasons why a player may need to mark a part which have nothing to do with "changing" the music. Anyone can make a reading mistake, and if a mistake can be made once, it can be made again. So the professional approach is to mark the part in such a way as to guard against it. The best players in the world will, for example, highlight a repeated accidental in a long bar, or mark the positions of the beats in a bar with a complex rhythm. Or mark in a courtesy accidental where the publisher has failed to do so. There is nothing unprofessional about marking reminders to oneself instead of relying on memory. It seems rather arbitrary to say NEVER use a pencil.
  16. DocFox

    DocFox Supporting Member

    Arbitrary? It is good policy unless you buy two copies or make illegal copies to mark up. I guess careful use of a soft pencil would be OK if a good eraser could CLEANLY remove it. But I doubt a player here hasn't played a marked up copy that was filled with junk. What to follow. I knew the 2nd trombone who carried a highlighter. If the MD said watch that crescendo, he highlighted it. His parts were a mess. It is not arbitrary if it is a solid policy and good musicianship. I have been both an MD AND a 1st bone player. I would never recommend marking a piece. But many MDs would.
  17. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Failing to mark something that would cause you to make the same mistake on a second read-through doesn't seem to me to be good musicianship. Let's face it, some reading mistakes are caused by poor notation or type-setting, and are not necessarily the fault of the player.

    And as an MD, If I asked a player to shape a phrase a certain way, and the next time he failed to do so because he hadn't marked in some kind of reminder to himself, I would be annoyed.

    Yes, certainly I've come across examples of parts that have been over-marked and are unhelpful. But that's simply lack of courtesy on the part of the player who didn't bother to clean up the part after they'd finished with it. When I finish a week's musical theatre production in the pit, I erase all the markings that are relevant to that production only as we go through the last night's performance. But I don't erase things like missing articulations that I've had to mark in, or courtesy accidentals, because they may well save time for the next player to play the part.

    I agree that the use of pencil markings should be judicious, but to have a rule that says "no pencils ever" doesn't make any sense to me.
  18. DocFox

    DocFox Supporting Member

    Well, I am in the minority, and I admit maybe wrong. If the second time through the same mistake was made and I was MD, I would consider my fault for poor conducting/cueing OR the musician is dense. Good music becomes great music when player plays with passion and understanding. If they do not understand, I guess I would allow a piece to be marked. But does marking a piece to remember a ff when it is on the music make sense?

    When taking master degree courses in conducting, the faculty figure the MD is not conveying the nuances of the music. I guess in 40 years, I have agreed with that. I used to come out 2 hour rehearsal in an A/C room wringing wet. I tried to convey that much to the band. But like I said, I do seem to be in a minority.
  19. tallyman

    tallyman Member

    Back on topic please.This thread is about pencils NOT pencil marks on music, if you want to boc about pencil marks on music supported by anecdotes about when you played for/conducted lower section bands please kindly use the correct thread.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2015
  20. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Sorry; didn't notice - I thought this was the pencil marking thread ...

    [Seems to me a logical progression of the discussion anyway]

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