8 years ago

Volume 6 Issue 6 - March 2001

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Although "WholeNote"

Although "WholeNote" does not usually come my way I picked up the February edition at the St. Lawrence Centre. Merlin Williams' BandStand column was most interesting. I am in When I went to school some complete agreement in regards to half century ago, consideration the grievous lack of proper was given to "balance" in a band instrumentation in most bands. Is or orchestra. Naturally at the time there a solution? every boy wanted a trumpet or Ascertaining the cause is a cornet. The answer was "those great deal easier. The education positions are already filled" and system has failed completely in alternative instruments were providing a source of dedicated offered. If you wanted to play in adult musicians and, just as the band you took what was important for that matter, available (horn, baritone, tuba). appreciative audiences. Look at Today every girl seems to want a the average age of band musi- flute, when clarinets and double cians and those who listen to reeds go wanting; scads of boys them! want to bang on drum "sets" or To begin with, some tough blast on over-amplified electric questions ought to be addressed "basses". (What are drum "sets" to the faculties of education who and electric "basses" doing in supply the public school music concert bands in the first place, teachers who create the major often to the complete exclusion of problem in this regard. Are these "legitimate" percussion and tubas people who are totally unsuitable? and double basses? Percussionists Piano teachers teaching brass who can "actually play" are very instruments without the least scarce.) notion of creating a decent Some directors have strange embouchure? ideas of "balance." A fifty piece I had the misfortune to play concert band obviously needs . with one absolute idiot in a more than one double bass, one community band who couldn't tuba and a baritone sax to counter even play a tuning note without the soprano instruments. splattering it all over the map and Goldman used to say "one had no sense of rhythm, yet tuba for every ten other musiaccording to a letter he wrote to a cians" . Perhaps this is excessive newspaper in support of "Re- but preferable to one poor lonely form" party dogma he had the soul blasting the Finale to Saint letters BA and Master of Educa- Saens "Organ" Symphony which tion after his name! I wonder how when played in an orchestra much "music" he was able to would have 10-12 double basses convey to his students? and almost that number of celli. Do the boards of education Part of the school problem is ever send inspectors around to the fact that music is considered a audit music classes or does no frill, entertainment, after-school one even care? Another marvel activity and ncit a "real" subject, I've played with couldn't make and the quality of school bands sense of a Rossini overture in and the competence of many of weeks. One comment overheard: the teachers reflect this. A student "they gave him a degree to get not preparing his parts as rid of him". This brings up homework and not taking what he another point: community bands does seriously ought to be are too willing to welcome people flunked as he would in English or who can "hold an instrument" . physics. How often do you hear Do they then wonder that serious- of that happening? minded musicians avoid them? There may be good school I once helped out a retired bands and orchestras in this Navy bandmaster with his band province but I have yet to hear in a tiny private rural school. He one. If you would ask locally was a woodwind man but also "how are the school bands in this could play and teach brass community"? most citizens would instruments well. What he could probably look at you and reply, do with 5'" and 6'" grade clarinet "there ARE school bands?" You players was amazing. He had never see them outside of the them "playi:1g over the break" in schools, their directors seldom if the first year, yet told me in ever participate in community public schools they often didn't music (or for that matter attend teach this to 9'" and 10'" graders. local concerts or bring their 46 wholenote MARCH l, 2001 - APRIL 7, 2001 . OUR REA·DERS WRITE A stand on bands students to them) . Is 'this strictly an 0830 to 1500 affair and are schools completely divorced from the community? When such programmes are "cut" who is to blame? When I was attending school the better school players used to sit in with adult bands or play in the local youth symphony and thus learn perhaps more than they were taught in schools. I played "Music Performance Trust Fund" concerts from Grade 9 onwards. Where are promising students in adult bands today and where is "new blood" coming from? How many people do you see under 40? It doesn't HAVE to be this way, even in smaller communities. At the "Mid-West" I've heard splendid bands and symphony orchestras, many of them from Texas (where music is taken seriously by boards and community leaders) . · A band music collector and I took a tour of southern Ontario band libraries recently and there are some great libraries out there including some stupendous ~ .. military libraries in Toronto with shelf upon shelf of band classics. How is it that such wonderful literature remains on the shelves and these bands are actually spending a fortune on buying today's "commercial junk"? That again goes back to the schools which seem to subsist on "Hal Leonard", "Warner Bros." One would think Rossini overtures would be "running around in people's heads", but obviously that is not the case. Where are the Arban and the Klose books for "style" and the Toscanini and Reiner recordings? Something is being missed. In the UK brass bands and the Salvationists train their own musicians and in Europe students are trained outside of public schools. This needs to be considered here. Otherwise, where will bands be when the 50-60-70 year-olds are gone in the next few years? Sincerely, Carl V. Ehrke, Belleville NO TIME FOR STUDIES Re: Making sense of the musical economy: Taking Care of Business (vol 6 #6, p. 7) I was both delighted and dismayed by last month's consideration of the economics of the music business. Delighted because it is a fundamental issue that needs to be examined but dismayed by the substance of what appeared. They're all the rage, to the point ofcliche: economic impact studies, concern about the increasing inequality of incomes/ increasing concentration of wealth, and the big globalization bogeyman. Can we not skip the flavourof-the-month rhetoric and stick to basics: supply and demand. While the supply of talented performers keeps on growing, the demand for their services keeps declining - lots of musicians, no audiences! And you know what? A lot of actors, set designers, writers, dancers etc., etc. have the same problem! Unless musicians and indeed all artists and arts managers face up to this central reality and start dealing with the issue, they will reduce themselves and their craft to the status of supplicants, begging for hand-outs from bureaucrats in government and corporate PR departments. Western intellectual life is facing challenges of colossal proportions. Those of us who care do not have the luxury of the intellectual sloppiness that has created the miasma. Claudia M. Krawchuk HA VE YOUR SAY WlzoleNote invites reader response 011 these and any other topics of interest. Readers ate invited to participate in our ONLINE FORUM at Or send letters by mail to: The WholeNote, 60 Bellevue A venue, Toronto MST 2N4; by e~mail to: or by fax to: 416~603-3787

MARCH 1, 2001- APRIL 7, 2001 W.holenote 47

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