What standard do I need to be at, to play in a band?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by B.Portas, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm a beginner baritone player, looking to attend a practice at my first real band next weekend. My girlfriend is a very talented tenor horn player, and is looking to take the solo horn seat at this new band, so she knows exactly what to expect, but as a real newbie, I have no idea what level I need to be at, before I even think of joining a band.

    The band I'm looking to practice with is 3rd section, and they already have 3 solid baritones players (one 1st and two 2nd), so I won't be properly "in the band", (the MD suggested that I sit out for contests) but to know what standard of playing I need to be, in terms of pitch range, speed and rhythm, would be hugely helpful, as would examples of pieces that I should be able to play, to join a 4th or 3rd section band on 2nd baritone.

    To give you an idea, I have only ever played with a training band, where the pieces ranged (in Bb) from low B to the E (the top space in the stave), but solo practice has given me a rough range of about 2 octaves, from low F# to F# on the top stave line. I personally don't feel ready to join a band at my level, but practice with a solid band will hopefully bring me on, but knowing what I need to aim for would really help, if any baritone players out there could give me a heads up.

    Many thanks,

    Bryn Portas
  2. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Member

    Hi Bryn
    My thoughts as an MD rather than as a baritone player....
    There is no better way (in my humble opinion) of improving your playing than sitting in with a band, especially alongside more experienced and hopefully sympathetic, players.
    The MD sounds as if he is happy to "bring you on" as a player and hopefully that reflects the attitude of the band in general.
    Enjoy your playing, listen and learn from those around you and I am sure that you will very quickly fill in the gaps in your playing technique.
    Good luck
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Active Member


    Don't worry about what you can or cannot do at this stage. The MD will have a good idea of what that will be already, and sounds happy to invest in you. Enjoy your banding, it's great fun! So much more rewarding than sitting at home practising on your own, and playing with a band that is better than you will make your playing improve much more quickly.
  4. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    "If in doubt, leave it out."
    Play what you can, follow what you can't. Then go home and practise a bit. Before you know it everything will fall into place. Works for me all the time.
    ENJOY! :)
  5. TrumpetTom

    TrumpetTom Member

    Hade Edge used to advertise for grade 5 and above in a village magazine. First saw this when they were probably second section I think but the advertisement was in the magazine for long after I think and I don't know when it started. I assume it just automatically got put in the magazine for while because they do that sometimes, so I don't know when the advertisement was actually made :p If your girlfriend and the MD thinks you should go for a blow then probably a good idea to at least try it.
  6. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    Hi Bryn
    If you've played in a training band then you'll have some idea of what it's like to sit in with a group , following an MD and listening to the others sat around you - all tricks that don't always get addressed by solo practice at home. If you are taking a step up standard-wise from the training band , don't be disillusioned if the first couple of rehearsals are a bit of a struggle in terms of keeping up - sounds like you've got a strong section to sit in with so there's absolutely no pressure on , and the attitude of the MD also sounds very encouraging :) Work on the note bashing at home , and the ensemble-related aspects will soon fall into place. Make sure you avail yourself of any post-rehearsal fluid-based social activities in order to truly get the most out of the band as well !!! :)

    Following girlfriends to bands can be interesting for development purposes !! I speak from experience , ended up playing in a Champ section band on a completely different instrument when it happened to me !! :)
  7. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    If the band is happy for you to keep turning up on the chair, then you're good enough. The fact they're happy for you to come down and play says all I need to hear.

    Good luck, and enjoy your playing. :)
  8. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Yes, what happened to that Stalking Charge?
  9. Bob Sherunkle

    Bob Sherunkle Member

    Dear Bryn

    Standard required to play second baritone:-

    Holding the instrument from memory.

    (in my experience)


    (Second baritone, Pearly B Band)
  10. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member


    If you turn up to find you can't play any of it, tal to the MD and be honest. My guess is that the first rehearsal you will feel slightly out of your depth, the second rehearsal will be slightly easier and by the end of rehearsal 4 you will feel like you are at least playing some of it.
  11. Gazabone

    Gazabone Member

    Hi Bryn,

    There's a lot of very good advice above. The one thing that might be worth mentioning is about "probably being dropped for contests". You may already be aware, but this is not any anticipation of how good you may or may not be, if you are "dropped", it's more to do with very tight constraints on the number of players allowed to be on stage at the contest.

    Other than that, go and enjoy it; from personal experience, you will learn far more, much more quickly amongst other people than you will sat at home playing. People tend to play to the standard of the people sat around them in time.

    The other advice I think is well worth echoing is not to get disheartened if you think you're out of your depth. With 1 band I joined it took me 6 months before I thought I was anything approaching standard.

    The bottom line is that you will be amongst new friends who are there for the same reason you will be - to enjoy making music together. You won't look back.

    Best wishes
  12. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    On a general thought, I started in a band where there was no beginers band or junior band. You were taught a C scale and then straight in with the band, maybe after a coupl eof weeks. That is not as bad as it sounds and for some players it worked very well but others maybe not. I think if anyone has enough aptitude then going in on 2nd bari 3rd man down or whatever could work out ok.

    A lot depends on you and the people you are with.

    Whatever you do, I hope you report back how you are getting on, Bryn.
  13. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    Wow, so much great advice, thank you! I suppose its just a case of turning up and having a go at what I can play, and working on things I can't in my own time before the next rehearsal. If I really can't play anything, the best thing to do is probably turn up and watch, while following the sheet music. I've made a good practice regime, so I should see some improvement over the next few months (working from Arban's Cornet Method, practicing march tunes...especially ones such as Slaidburn, with fun, easy bass solo sections, scales and arpeggios and working towards a few solos, like The Swan).

    For the training band, I had only had a couple of lessons with my girlfriend before then, and to push me onwards, she thought that the conductor would assess me at least, but he threw me on 1st baritone, because I'm studying a degree in music (on guitar mind...)and he thought I would be naturally gifted (I was told I picked it up very quickly, but that said, my girlfriend was on solo horn in a contesting 3rd section band aged 13, within literally a week of playing...some people just take to it better than others). I could only just remember my valve positions, and had to write them under every note for the first month of playing.

    After next Sunday, I'll let you know how I got on :) Thanks for all the encouragement and advice!
  14. MrsP

    MrsP New Member

    Hi Bryn
    With the right band you will be fine.
    I play Baritone too, it's a fab instrument! Not biased of course lol
    The biggest thing to remember us to enjoy it.
    I remember joining my first band and I was quite scared because like you I'd not had much experience, however, the first couple of rehearsals I hardly played and then one day I remember thinking hey I played every note! It was a proud moment.
    Also remember even accomplished players have to practice various pieces and don't be afraid to write yourself notes on your music (in pencil of course), whether it is fingering or a reminder of what your MD tells you it really can help.


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