Why You Should Join a Community Band

If you’re anything like me, school band isn’t enough for you. Many school bands spend a majority of the  year playing the same songs over and over again to prepare for one competition or one concert. But if you want more, community band is the perfect place to start. Throughout the year you will be challenged with a constant intake of new music that you will be expected to perform on stage after only a few rehearsals. This is more like how a musicians schedule is and gives you the opportunity to experience it before you even graduate high school.

Community Band

ANYONE CAN GET INVOLVED WITH A COMMUNITY BAND

If you can play an instrument proficiently, you can join a community band! It’s as simple as that. Some bands require a small audition and some require you to be All Region player, but each band is made up entirely of volunteers from all different careers who want to continue playing music. Even High School students can play in community bands. I started playing with the Arkansas Winds in 10th grade. Depending on what your local band’s guidelines are, you may have to pay dues or be asked to make a donation to contribute to the funds so that the band can continue operating. But its all worth it.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

As a high school student, playing with the local community band was a challenge at first because everyone was much older and had been playing their instruments for as long as I have been alive. I had always been first chair in my bands and playing with more experienced players pushed me to practice harder to keep up. Little did I know that these musicians would become such influential people in my life. Each and every person I have met through the Arkansas Winds have been extremely talented and generous. I have made many new friends and connections that have supported me and helped me out in my playing and my personal life.

PLAYING NEW, CHALLENGING MUSIC

My sight-reading has improved a lot since I joined The Arkansas Winds due to the constant input of new, challenging music. The first day was very intimidating. We were playing music with lots of key changes and lots of weird time signatures at very fast tempos. I could hardly keep up and thought about quitting. But every week after that it got easier and easier and now I have no problem keeping up.

PERFORMING OFTEN

My community band’s season starts in October and ends mid July. During our season we play around 8-10 concerts. Several Christmas concerts, a Fourth of July concert, and many more concerts for students and the community. Each concert has a new set of music and a new audience at a new location.

 

 

Overall, joining a community band is one of the best decisions I have made for myself and for my journey with music. Regardless if you plan to make music your career, joining a band outside of school will allow you to continue playing music. If you don’t know of a Band near you, here is a link to a list of bands by location: Check it out!  If you participate in a community band let me know how you like it and if you have any questions about Arkansas Winds  feel free to email me!

How to Survive Auditions

It seems ironic to be writing this the week of my own audition, but maybe this time I’ll take my own advice. Every tryout has different music, judges, location, and scoring  process. But the most important difference is how well you prepared for the tryout.

Audition

MONTHS BEFORE THE AUDITION

Be sure you are practicing the right materials. You don’t want to show up to an audition and realize that you spent months practicing the Junior High material instead of the Senior High  material.

After you know you have the right material, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Don’t forget to use a METronome. I know they get annoying and that it gets frustrating, but the MET will be your best friend and keep you on track for the rest of your career as a  musician.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Make sure you know the time and address of your audition and be sure to be there not on time, but early. This is band: to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be dead.

Make sure you don’t leave anything behind:

  • music
  • stand
  • headphones or earplugs
  • tuner and metronome
  • water
  • instrument

Leaving your instrument behind might seem impossible, but I promise it’s happened before. Don’t be that person… please.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Upon arriving at the location, find your tryout room, the practice room, the commons area, and the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom can be very crucial to the tryout process, especially if you suffer from nerves or need to escape the chaos of the practice rooms.

Performing well in an audition or tryout is a game and all you can do to get better is practice playing over and over again. The good players know how to make you nervous in hopes that you will mess up your etudes or scales. So be careful how you spend your time before your scheduled time, you don’t want to make yourself panic by paying too close of attention to the other musicians practice.

IN THE PRACTICE ROOM

This is where the earplugs come in. Nothing is more intimidating than listening to people play the etude better than you can. The practice room is going to be full of all different kinds of people playing constant loud music. Some people will spend the entire time practicing, but that may not be the best idea for you. I find that the more time I spend practicing, the more nervous I get. Warming up with the posted scales and running through the cuts 2-5 times is enough to be warmed up and ready to perform well. DO NOT WEAR YOURSELF OUT.

IN THE AUDITION ROOM

If you’ve never tried out for anything before, you should know what kind of tryout you are walking into. There are two types of auditions: live and blind. Most of the tryouts I have been to have been blind. This means you will be performing your prepared pieces to a block sheet instead of a visible judge. This process ensures that there are no biased scores or placements.

In the audition room it is important to stay calm because if you make a mistake in there it will reflect on your score,  and no matter what, DO NOT TALK. If you talk, and the judges believe that it caused your judges to give you a bias score, your score could be eliminated, or you could have to tryout again.

When your judge or room monitor tells you to play a scale or etude, you are allowed to play one note before you begin. If you choose to do so, I advise playing the first note of the excerpt. TAKE YOUR TIME. Auditions normally run ahead of schedule because people begin playing the second the judge tells them to go. But you can take all the time you need. Before you play take a deep breath and pick a solid slow tempo. When I am nervous I tend to pick a faster tempo that will lead me to make more mistakes. Slow down and pick a comfortable tempo even if it isn’t the tempo marking on the piece.

AFTER THE AUDITION

Breathe. Relax. Don’t sit around waiting for a phone call or email, and don’t stand by the wall were results are being posted. Go have your fun.

But when results are posted remember that the biggest differences between auditions are the people your’e up against and the people judging you. You may get a really high score and get a low placement, or you could get a really low score and get first chair. Everything is situational and all you can do is work hard, learn the music, and perform.

Feel free to ask any questions about auditions or just let me know how yours went. I’d love to hear from you. Good Luck