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Thanks for a successful AGM, and for the vote of confidence. Special thanks to the exec incumbents, especially to those signing up for another term. Your exec has been working hard on your behalf navigating COVID waters. I’m happy to continue preparing the weekly challenges, and we’ll return to in-person rehearsals sometime…
Several of you were bumping into Dropbox storage limits, so I pruned. Lots of photos were moved to MCB Archives. I’m happy to share access to that folder with anyone that’s interested, but you’ll need a Dropbox storage limit of 10 GB or so.
Heads up- next week, I’ll move some of the older weekly challenges to Archives. At least for now, I’ll leave the PDFs available to all.
Last week’s Question of the Week: Do you have a memorable film score moment that’s stirred your emotions and become a highlight for you? (I had mentioned Jurassic Park and A Christmas Carol.)
Doug, I also happen to love that moment in the original Scrooge film. In fact, I was so taken with the carol they were singing, that I researched the title. It’s called Barbara Allen and it’s a lovely melody! JT
My most favorite film score is from Cinema Paradiso. I melt when I hear it. HL
I think “Flight of the Valkyries” in “Apocalypse Now” is one of the more powerful movie moments for me. There are many more but this one has stuck with me since my youth. I also think that the entire score from “Schindler’s List” had a huge impact on how powerful that movie impacted people. DH
This week, we’ll conclude our look at the relatively easy Academy Nights Remembered. Next week, a nice challenge- an original concert band work by Rob Romeyn called “Of Heroes and Demons”.
Warmup- Eb+ and F+: After some long tones, let’s work on sfz p crescendo this week. Your goal is to hit a controlled accent, drop to nothing, and then execute crescendo, keeping control of tone and tuning. Recording yourself and listening is wonderful and brutally honest feedback!
Practice Academy Nights Remembered 72 – end: Upper woodwinds and trumpets have some rather difficult syncopated melodies. If you’re struggling, use a pencil to mark beats, or even subdivided beats. I don’t think the melody are easily memorized by repeated listening. You’ll probably need to woodshed carefully bar by bar for accurate ensemble playing. Watch for the slight tempo increase at 91. And again, given the slow tempo, I didn’t prepare an even slower rehearsal track.
Listening: mp#4 is a pretty good community band from Germany. What technical challenges the piece has are well handled. I’d love to hear the trumpets sustain the dotted quarter notes in the intro for their full value. Listen for some tuning challenges. The German band takes a far more subtle approach to the tempo change at 91. Which tempo choice do you prefer?
Question of the week: With many of us working from home, and access to restaurants, movies and other diversions limited, it’s easy to feel isolated. How are you occupying your down time, and have you found a way to stay in contact with friends and family?
For me, we’ve added a family on-line game morning on Saturdays. So far, we’ve played Dominion (a very cool and free on-line card game), Clue (the classic logic/detective game) and yesterday, Dungeons and Dragons using an amazing website I just found called Fantasy Grounds. Bonus points for identifying the following quote without Googling- “Jump on my sword while you can, Evil, I won’t be as gentle!”
Reminder: our AGM is Monday Oct. 19, 7:30. You should have already received your Zoom invitation by now. If not, feel free to email me.
Previously on Your Weekly Challenge: Everyone has hidden talents. What’s the most useless talent you have?
Most useless talent….I think mine would be the ability to use the ruler as an instrument. NF
For the next two weeks, we’ll take a breather and work on a technically easy medley of Diane Warren songs. You might not recognize the name, but Warren’s first hit “Solitaire”, sung by Laura Branigan broke into the U.S. pop charts in 1983. She’s still writing award-winning songs for film, TV and pop singers.
I didn’t create any slow-tempo recordings for practice, since the original tempi are slow enough.
Warmup- Eb+ and F+ scales: Without too many technical challenges in this piece, it’s a good opportunity to focus on tone, tuning and control. This week, during your warmup take a 10% bigger breath than usual, and see how long you can quietly hold a single note. The duration will depend on the instrument, of course- flute and tuba generally only last half the time of other instruments- but try for thirty seconds of quiet but excellent tone as a good start.
Practice Academy Nights Remembered 0 – 72 (How Do I Live and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now): As noted earlier, outside of a couple of obligatory woodwind flourishes, technical demands are limited. Accompaniment instruments will need to be precise when using syncopation.
Listening: The players in the supplied recording are technically excellent and quite precise rhythmically, there are sections where the accompaniment instruments faithfully play the marked mf without taking into account their role. See if you can find spots where the melody gets a bit buried.
Questions of the Week: Do you have a memorable film score moment that’s stirred your emotions and become a highlight for you?
I’ve got two- Jurassic Park, when the team of scientists first see the dinosaurs grazing around the pond, and the 1951 Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge pops in to see his nephew’s Christmas celebration and they’re singing carols.
Here’s a bit of how the meeting will run. I will be walking you though this during the meeting, so don’t feel you need to memorize it, but so you know what to expect:
When you join the meeting, you will be on mute. If you want to unmute to say hello, feel free. Once we reach 7:30pm, our meeting host (Doug Hoyle) will mute everyone so there aren’t distractions from background noise.
Once you’re in the meeting, please type your full name into the chat box (which you can find by moving your mouse pointer to the bottom of your screen and clicking “Chat” or by tapping your phone/tablet screen then tapping “Participants” and finding “Chat” at the bottom of the screen). This will help us ensure we have quorum for the meeting.
If you have questions or comments during the meeting, you will put those into the chat as well (either the full question if it’s short or a note stating you want to ask something). Doug Hoyle will be monitoring those and passing them along to me so we can get them answered. Raising hands isn’t going to work in a group this size, so the chat is how we’ll do it.
We will present several poll questions during the meeting as a quick way to survey the band (and will also use this function if we end up having a vote between candidates for an exec role). The poll will appear on your screen and you’ll pick your answer then submit it. Answers are anonymous.
This is new to all of us, running an AGM this way, but we’ll make it work.
Message from Doug – October 11th
Happy Thanksgiving. Presumably you’ve chowed down on some turkey before starting this week’s challenge.
Reminder: our AGM is Monday Oct. 19, 7:30. Look for an invitation on or about Oct. 16..
Previously on Your Weekly Challenge: Question of the Week: If you weren’t playing the instrument you bring to MCB, what would you play?
I think I would like to play tenor sax. Many of the styles of music I like playing works well with tenor sax. (DH)
I love percussion. It would be great to play the drum kit, but I’m realistic enough to know that there is not enough time left in this life to be any good at it. So…maybe in the next one. 😹 (WD)
If I didn’t play flute, I would play the bassoon; I think it’s my favourite wind instrument. (SS)
I’d play trumpet so I could learn to do the “end of Sleigh Ride” horse sounds. 🙂 (HW)
If I wasn’t playing trombone, it would be piano, or maybe clarinet because I want to play Moonlight Serenade. (YK)
baritone sax (FD)
This week, we look at the final section of Naples Medley. Next time, we’ll check out an easy medley of Diane Warren tunes from the late 80s/early 90s.
Warmup- F+ scale: looking ahead at today’s piece, it would be wise to work on tonguing during your warmup. After some lone tone scales, play a couple of bars of the rhythm of your choice on each degree of the scale- something that challenges your tonging facility. You’re aiming for sixteenth notes at mm = 135. But whether you use single (ta-ta tah tah tah) or double (ta-ka tah tah tah) tonguing, begin as slowly as you need to play clearly, and then add speed.
Practice Naples Medley bars 282 – end: Mp3 #1 is a slow version of bars 289 to the end. Mp3 #2 is the up to tempo version of 282 to the end.
Listening- Mp3 #3: It’s an excellent performance, but there’s a bit of mud as the group navigates the exit from the fermati in bars 309 (time 1:04) and 318 (1:21). We might try releasing for a breath before starting bar 310.
Question of the Week: Everyone has hidden talents. What’s the most useless talent you have? (I’ve been known to perform the William Tell Overture using my knuckles rapping the top of my head, changing pitch by altering the space inside my mouth.)
Even though rehearsals have been cancelled until it’s safe to resume playing together, your exec hope that we can stay connected and ready for reassembly. I’ll be continuing with weekly challenges for the foreseeable future. I’ve still got about a dozen new charts at home that were waiting for filing, so we’ll start with those. If necessary, Cornell has allowed us one visit to the facility, and we can pull out music from our library.
I’d encourage all of you to be proactive and tell me if there are any changes in the weekly challenge that would facilitate your home practice. Too hard, too easy, too much covered, not enough…? Feedback is always appreciated!
I’ll also add a weekly question, and compile and share your responses. They won’t necessarily be band music related- I see this as more of a team building exercise.
Reminder: our virtual AGM is Monday, Oct. 19, 7:30. Watch for your e-invite closer to the date.
Finally, it was very nice to see all your positive comments to Heather’s last email. I know I appreciate all the behind-the-scenes work and clear direction!
Warmup- Bb+, Ab+, F+: Today’s focus (Tarantella Napoletana from Sadler’s Naples Medley) works it way through these three keys. I’d recommend two octave scales with a variety of tempi- slow for tone and breath control, and fast for technical facility.
Practice Naples Medley bar 189 – 281: Before playing with the recording, take careful note of the articulation marks. Practicing small sections slowly will be the key to getting this tune clean and precise.
Listening: I really like that the band is able to sound happy and relaxed while playing Tarantella Napoletana- a technically challenging piece. The audience can hear tension, so individual fluency is one key to making our performance of this piece sound good.
Question of the Week: If you weren’t playing the instrument you bring to MCB, what would you play? For me, it would be oboe. When I was getting my MusBac, the students in the education stream took classes in as many instruments as possible. Oboe was easily my favourite minor instrument- perhaps because it’s the antithesis of tuba.
To respond, email me directly and I’ll compile the results for next week’s challenge.
Greetings, all, and I hope you’re well and safe. The exec had a meeting tonight and I wanted to let you know what we’ve decided.
1. Updates on rehearsals
Plainly put, we will not be attempting to have any at this time. With the newly tightened restrictions and the currently increasing number of cases, we do not think it’s responsible to attempt to get together in person. You’re, of course, welcome to practice at home. 😉
We will be holding our annual general meeting on Zoom on October 19th at 7:30pm on Zoom. The invitation for that meeting will come at a later date from Doug Hoyle and the agenda at a later date from me.
We have determined that we can conduct voting through Zoom, and we tested it during tonight’s exec meeting and it does permit for anonymous voting. For things like “do we approve these financial statements?” we will continue to do ‘raised hands’ as our voting method as we usually do, but if we end up requiring a vote for any of the exec roles we will use the Zoom voting.
3. Exec vacancies
The following four roles are presently up for re-election for another two-year term. At this time, the current office holders are willing to stand again. (Thanks to them!) If you are interested in any of these roles, please reply to this email and let me know so I can give you more information.
While we will accept nominations (self or otherwise) during the meeting as always, I would very much appreciate it if you let me know beforehand that you’re interested, so we can prepare the voting poll and so on in advance rather than during the meeting itself.
President (current holder Heather Wardell) – planning MCB goals/direction, exec support and coordination, meeting prep and chairing, grant applications (joint with VP), communication and issue resolution with audience and band members
Librarian (current holder Beth Crichton) – organization and disbursement of music, music database maintenance
Take care, and I’ll see you on Zoom on the 19th!
Message from Doug – September 28th
Your exec has a virtual meeting scheduled tonight to discuss our somewhat limited options. Outdoor rehearsals would, we think, be considered a social gathering and limited to ten people. If our community centre rehearsals could be defined as being run by a staffed business, they’d be legal- but given the emerging science, may not be safe. Stay tuned.
Here is this week’s challenge.
Warmup- F+, Ab+, D+: Today’s challenge featured three different key signatures. Continue to work for excellent tone, and then speed and fluency in the target keys.
Practice Naples Medley, 85 – 189: As usual, there are two rehearsal Mp3s. The first one has a mm=100, but is only from bars 85- 148. It might take a few listens to find the feel of the phrase structure. Much of the fast tune (Come Facette Mammeta) is in six bar phrases, but there are a few extensions. Your timing challenge in Torna a Surriento is to following the rubato and pauses.
Listening: There doesn’t seem to be another recording of Sadler’s Naples Medley. (We’ll have to get together and record one!) Have a listen to this group’s excellent use of style- contrasting glassy smooth legato and crisp articulations. Multiple listenings will help you find and secure the shifting key centres. Note that at bar 181, what’s intended to be four more bars of trumpet solo has been handed off to a flautist. I think it’s a nice idea.
Message from Heather – September 24th
I’m sure you’ve all seen the new “10 people at an indoor gathering, 25 outdoor” restrictions Ontario has set for (at least) the next month. They prevent the outdoor rehearsal we were planning (as more than 25 of us wanted to attend), and even if they’re lifted after the month, that would be too late in the year to meet outdoors.
Therefore, we will not be going ahead with an outdoor rehearsal in 2020.
As for indoor, I have not yet had any response from the City regarding whether York Region would permit us to rehearse, but the 10 people restriction will prevent any sort of reasonable rehearsal anyhow.
So indoor rehearsals are on hold for now but not looking good.
The exec is meeting Monday night on Zoom, and we’ll pick a time then for another MCB chat. Also, we’re required to hold our annual general meeting every year, so we will be setting that up virtually as well. Details on both those things, including the four exec roles that are up for re-election this year, in the next few weeks.
Please take care and stay safe.
Message from Doug – September 20th
A new piece today- Brian Sadler’s arrangement of “Naples Medley”. It’s a challenge. Use the links below to access the PDFs and mp3s from our MCB Shared Dropbox. I just created and uploaded the missing treble clef euph part.
Warmup- Eb+ scale: Sadler’s arrangement starts in a very friendly Eb+. Enjoy the easy key while you can…
Practice 0 – 85: Be sure to listen to the opening and closing sections- there are some hard-to-tune key transitions, although the key signature doesn’t change. Other than that, it’s not too tough. Be aware of the dynamic contrasts. Consider recording yourself to see if you’re changing levels as dramatically as possible.
Listening- MP3 #3: This recording is pulled from Sadler’s website, with no credit to the performing group. The medley includes Funiculi Funicula, Come Facette Mammeta, Torna a Surriento, Tarantella Napoletana, and O Surdato. Enjoy.
Thanks to all who have responded to Heather’s survey. We’re still missing some responses, but our indoor rehearsal plan seems to have enough interest to proceed. We do want to hear from everyone, so please respond soon if it’s still in your to-do pile.
The City of Markham is keeping Cornell closed for the foreseeable future, but they have offered us an alternative space not too far from Cornell. The exec will be visiting the location this week, and we’ll keep you posted on what we learn. We’ll likely not pursue an outdoor rehearsal if we’re able to rehearse together in October.
Today’s the last week of focus on “All Time Favorites”. If you’re keen, I’ve already posted (except for a treble clef euph part that I have to create) the PDFs and mp3 for our next focus piece. It’s a medley of Italian songs arranged by Brian Sadler, so expect technical challenges and unusual key signatures.
Warmup- Ab+ Concert, Bb+ Concert: This week’s practice section uses these two keys, and there are improv solos available. Learning how to improvise can be challenging and scary. Two important skills in improvisation are technical facility and hearing the music in your head before you play it. An easy start to improv is to use a comfortable scale, and create your own tunes. Experiment with pitches, intervals, and rhythms. You’ll find that some notes make better phrase ends than others. Have fun!
Practice I – end: There are two tunes in this section- April Love and Land of 1000 Dances. Track #1 is a slow version of Land only, since it wasn’t necessary to slow down April Love any further. The twelve bar section at N is repeated four times on the recording. It’s a good background to practice your improv skills. Be sure to keep track of the twelve bar phrases as you play along. Hear the brass chords in bars eleven and twelve will help.
Listening: As you listen to the improv section at N, focus on the choices made by the four soloists. High energy vs laid back, rhythmic variety, quotes from other tunes- see what you can hear.
Message from Heather – September 11th
I’ve received several emails from people saying that the form required them to log into a Google account they didn’t have. I’ve investigated, and a checkbox that wasn’t supposed to be on (which I thought I’d turned off) was causing that. But there seem to have been other issues as well with people’s answers not being recognized.
It should give you a response of “Your response has been recorded.” – if you don’t see that, it hasn’t accepted your answer.
Also, if you answer no, the survey will now ask for your name. I had that turned off before but I think it’s better to take the names so we can be sure who is and is not attending. Once the survey closes, I’ll post a list of all names that replied (not their reply, just the name) and if you’re not on the list, you’ll know we didn’t get your answer.
I’ve included the original email (with the link updated to reach the new form) below.
My apologies for your needing to do it a second time. All should be well now. 🙂
Message from Heather – September 10th
I know there’s been some confusion regarding the outdoor rehearsal and our lack of details, and I apologize for that. The reason is that we’ve been having discussions with the City.
We’ve now been informed that Cornell Community Centre will be closed for the rest of 2020 and quite likely for all of 2021 as well for budgetary reasons. (More cost-effective to have half the community centres open and fully booked than to open them all for half-booking.)
In a conference call yesterday, the City offered us Rouge River Community Centre (south of 407 between Markham Road and Ninth Line) instead. We are making arrangements to see it shortly, but based on their descriptions it does seem that we could make it work as a rehearsal facility with 6′ distancing throughout. It would not be open until October (don’t have the exact date yet).
Before we go too far down the path of booking Rouge River, we need to know how many band members would be interested in returning, so I’ve got another survey for you. Please visit
to let us know whether you would return in October. While we are still finalizing exactly how this would go, given that we haven’t yet seen the facility, here’s what we expect:
– chairs are available; music stands we would most likely bring our own
– we would work from music you’d print at home from PDF or put on your iPad or tablet
– 6′ distancing while playing
– masks required at all times when not in your seat ready to play
– contact tracing – a full attendance list each week
– based on what we know of the space so far, there would be a maximum of 40 band members allowed to attend. If more are interested than that, we will handle that problem then
– there may be some sort of membership fee for this, but that hasn’t yet been worked out (it would certainly not be higher than our usual fee)
– we may do virtual concerts as well during this, depending on whether the facility is amenable to recording
If we go ahead with the indoor rehearsals, we will not hold the outdoor one, since it would be only a week or so before the indoor ones began. If the indoor ones don’t happen, the outdoor rehearsal would be in the afternoon on September 26th (27th rain date).
As I’m sure you’ll understand, this is all still a moving target since we’ve only just been informed. It does seem, though, like a good way to return to rehearsals safely.
I want to be very clear: if you are not comfortable with returning to rehearsals, we completely understand. Everyone has their own level of how to handle this pandemic, and if you’re not ready to come back you are no less a member of the band.
So again, visit https://forms.gle/C25tzHN3AT3qLRJb7 to let us know whether you will be returning. Please complete the form whether your answer is yes or no (if you are unsure, mark no) so we get a clearer picture.
Once we have your answers (by Monday night, please) we’ll let you know what’s happening next week, and if we are doing the outdoor rehearsal you’ll get more details of that then as well.
Thank you for your patience as we try to find a way to get MCB at least somewhat back on track.
Exec, if I’ve missed anything critical from our discussion, please feel free to reply and add it.
Message from Doug – September 6th
Please mark Sept. 19 (rain date Sept. 20) for an MCB Outdoor Rehearsal. (As always, whether it’s weather conditions or Plague, your decision to attend is based on your comfort level with the circumstances.) You’ll need to bring a chair, music stand, the PDFs I’ve sent so far this summer, and your mask. We’ll run All Time Favorites, Mozart Pops Symphony, Sing, Sing, Sing, and There’s No Business, plus one or two more if I can get them scanned. Details to follow.
Warmup- F+ scale: As always, long tones through a two octave scale is very useful. Extend your range and maintain control of sound quality and dynamics. For technical facility, try rapidly going up five scale degrees and returning (F G A Bb C Bb A G F). Once that’s fluent, go from scale degree two to six (G A Bb C D C Bb A G), and so on.
Practice- All Time Favorites E – I: There aren’t too many technical challenges in this passage. Concentrate on matching the articulation style of the recording.
The featured recording below is, as usual, by Tokyo Kosai, who have posted hundreds of performances from the “New Sounds” catalogue we’ve been using. It’s a treat to listen to the subtle choices being made by the players- smooth melodic lines contrasting with high energy accents in the accompaniment, fantastic attention to dynamic details, and of course the technical expertise.
I’m not quite convinced that Iwai’s arrangement decisions for the ending are quite to my taste. Give some thought on what you might do to modify the ending for a stronger finish.
Update: When I added the link to what was supposed to be the folder of Mp3s, there was only a piccolo part in the folder. The music was scanned and uploaded in June, and that’s older than my 30 day Dropbox history info. No idea what happened, but it looks like I’ll have to rescan… might take a day or two. In the meantime, enjoy the Mp3s.
News from Flato Markham Theatre- they will be keeping their doors shut until 2021. The MCB exec will meet soon to discuss our options, including whether to pursue outdoor rehearsals while weather permits.
I’ve got three more challenges prepared for you, based on today’s new piece “All Time Favorites”. We’ll also need to figure out if enough of you are getting value from these to warrant continuing. If you’ve got an opinion, please send Heather or me a quick email.
On a personal note, we’re now home from Japan- and still healthy! (But Akito misses his grandparents.) It’s a pleasure to be working on my 27” iMac again. Love my iPad, but it’s a tougher workflow to get stuff done.
Warmup- Ab+: Here’s a nice endurance test- a two octave “growing” scale. That’s “doh, re, doh. Doh, re, mi, re, doh” and so on over the two octaves. Consider recording yourself and listen for consistent attacks, great sound and dynamic control through the whole range.
Practice “All Time Favorites”, beginning to E: I once heard a band director say that there’s a special place in Heaven for bands that make a recognizable difference between mf and f. That might set a low bar for admission, but I appreciate the sentiment. Be aware of the dynamic levels as you practice this section. It’s swing style, and as usual track #1 is slowed for practicing.
Listening: Mp3 #3 is a full recording of this fun Iwai medley. There’s lots of opportunity for soloists, with written solos provided, but also the option for improv.
Be sure to respond to Heather’s survey regarding an outdoor rehearsal. If all goes well, it needn’t be a one shot experience. I’m sure we’ll get to at least mid-October before the snow falls…
Today is our last look at No Business. New piece next week!
Warmup- Ab+ and F+ scales: Our piece uses these two keys in the closing sections, so spend some time reviewing the finger patterns. If you’re already very fluent with them, push yourself to try new things. How about the scale in thirds (1, 3, 2, 4, 3, 5…) or fourths (1, 4, 2, 5, 3, 6…)? I believe that mindless repetition during your warmups are better than no warmups at all, but it’s even better to stretch your mind too.
Practice H – end: The frequent tempo changes will make playing along with the recordings difficult. You’ll need to know your part well, and have listened enough that you can anticipate what’s coming.
Listening: Here’s a fun challenge. See if you can conduct the recordings. Try it first with looking at your music, and then without. For bonus points, stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself conduct! Knowing the piece well enough to conduct it from memory will help your understand your big-picture role when we’re back together and playing. Your 4/4 pattern, by the way, is down, left, right, up. Have fun.
Greetings, all, and I hope you’re doing well. As Doug mentioned, the exec’s been considering an outdoor rehearsal on a September weekend. We have not selected a date, because we need to know whether anyone’s willing to attend first.
It will ask you for your section and your willingness to attend, and it’s got a spot for comments too if you want to leave any. At the top, it details how we intend to make this proposed rehearsal as safe as possible, so please read that part carefully and then give your answers (note that you’ll be anonymous unless you choose to put your name in the comments section).
If you have any questions, reply to this email to send them to me. Please respond to the survey by Friday so we can decide how and whether to move forward.
Thanks very much, and take care!
Message from Doug – Aug 16th
Yikes- past the mid-August point already. I hope you and yours are all doing well.
Our chances of having indoor rehearsals in September seem slim. Even if we thought is was a good idea, Cornell has no plan to reopen yet. That ties up our music and percussion equipment. Barring a miraculous solution, we’ll be cancelling our October show.
Our exec is putting together a survey to see if there is interest in an outdoor rehearsal. Stay tuned.
Warmup- G+: This week’s practice session in is G+, so take the time to get comfortable with the key centre. Ideally, try a two octave scale and keep your sound quality and volume consistent throughout. Vary the dynamics, work for speed- but not at the expense of accuracy. Train those neurons!
Practice No Business F to H: There are some rhythm and articulation challenges. Listening to the recordings will help. As usual, track #1 Is slowed for easier play-along.
Listening: Track #3 is our guest band from Slovenia! They’re an excellent ensemble, but it’s interesting to hear the different tempo choices they’ve made. Decide for yourself which interpretation best serves the music. By the way, there’s some unexpected dissonance in the ninth bar of F that, according to my score, shouldn’t be there. I suspect it’s a misprint in one of the clarinet parts. The first three notes of the bar should be some sequence of (written) G#, E#, and C#.
Update from Cornell- they are still closed, and have no reopening date available. My assumption that Stage Three meant we’d have the option to rehearse was apparently optimistic. >_< Stay tuned- it’s all one big moving target right now.
Warmup- Chromatic Scale: Many instruments have chromatic runs in this piece. Spend some time this week working on your chromatic scale facility. Start where you’re comfortable- perhaps with a six note range going slowly up and down. Chromatic scales are great range extension exercises! If needed, either use a finger chart or check out this link. You’ll need to scroll down a bit to find the chromatic scale link.
Practice “No Business” from the bar before D to F: As usual, track #1 is the slowed version. Note that the conductor chose to slow down going into E for a hard swing feel. I added an extra click track there that might help.
Listening: Without looking at your sheet music, listen to the recording and decide whether the scale passages you hear are major or chromatic. Expand your focus to include other sections of the band.
Here’s a link to this week’s MP3s. Thanks to Gord for posting all the challenges on our MCB website in the members section. You can go in and pick up older resources as needed.
Warmup- F+ concert scale: Start with a slow one octave scale, then change to two octaves and work for speed. If you run into trouble, focus on the difficult section and go as slowly as necessary for accuracy. Building the muscle memory for the right notes will pay off when you start working on the music.
Practice beginning to D: There might be some rhythm challenges for some of you, but looking and listening for patterns will help. Upper voices, note that your pattern changes in the second bar of A. The tempo changes will make playing along with the recording a challenge! Have the piece in your head and fluent before trying to move between sections.
Listening- MP3 #3: This is another fine recording from Tokyo Kosei. As you listen to the arrangement, take note of the many musical elements that Iwai changes to add interest to what’s basically several verses of a familiar song. There are five that I think are pretty obvious- make your list and we’ll compare it next week.
Message from Doug – July 26th
It’s encouraging to see York Region move into Stage Three. I’m hoping that everything continues to progress positively, and we’ll be able to resume some sort of rehearsal schedule in September. The modifications my curling club expect to have in place are still pretty onerous, but there’s still lots of time for improvement.
Warm up- C+ scale. A couple of our pieces in our current set have some improvisation sections. Let’s try some rhythmic improv. Take a bar for each degree of the scale, repeating the top note. That will give you two eight bar phrases. Improvise a swing rhythm on each bar.
Practice- K- end: As usual, #1 is slowed for practice, and #2 is up to speed. This is s short section, but it’s the last thing the audiences hears. It needs to be tight, accurate and full of energy- not an easy task after a long blow.
Listening: Today, I’d like to introduce the concept of listening for phrase lengths. If we’re all more aware of our piece’s structure, it’s easier to avoid counting errors. More importantly, I think it adds depth to our enjoyment if we understand more about what the composer is doing.
Many of our western culture pieces are organized into phrases of four bars. More often than not, we’ll hear two pair of four bar phrases for a larger eight bar phrase.. Here’s O Canada . After the four bar intro, try counting along and find the patterns. The accepted method is to count the beats but say the phrase bar number for each bar- 1,2,3,4 2,2,3,4 3,2,3,4 and so on up to 8,2,3,4.
(Bonus points if you can figure out the national anthem that starts with an uncommon six bar phrase! The answer is at the end of this email.)
Of course, it’s the exemptions to the normal pattern that makes music interesting. Sing, Sing Sing starts with an eight bar drum solo (in a very quick four beats per bar, conducted with two beats per bar). The next phrase, though, is ten bars. (Don’t be like the poor clarinet player in recording four, immortalized for having miscounted the second phrase. )
Most of Sing is in eight bar phrases. As you listen to the piece again, see if you can track what the soloists are doing, anticipating the eight bar phrases.
Apologies to our 1st flute players. Skye pointed out that their part for Sing was missing. It’s now re-uploaded. Here’s the link to all the parts for those just getting started. (And as always, the Challenge resources are available in our shared Dropbox.
In other news, Scott from the Flato Markham Theatre has been corresponding with Doug Hoyle about the 20/21 season. Stay tuned- we continue to discuss our options in this rapidly changing landscape. Our first goal is to find a way to run safe rehearsals!
Warmup- C+ scale: By now, you should be more comfortable with the the technical and tuning challenges of this band-uncommon scale. Try going up and down the one octave scale in swing eighth notes. Once that’s comfortable, go from the second degree to the second degree, and so on.
Practice E – H: As usual, #1 is the slow recording, and #2 is up to speed. This piece is a bit uneven with its challenges- some sections have a far easier part than others. Hang in there- one more week on Sing.
Listening: #3 is a recording of a Swedish concert band. The soloist structure they use is closer to what’s in our parts. I think you’ll find it an interesting contrast to #4, done by Tokyo Kosei. Note the dynamic choices by the respective drummers, and the clarity and precision of the rhythmic unison passages.
I didn’t hear about any problems last week, and I’m hoping that means everyone can access the resources. Please let me know if there’s any other way I can help you stay engaged and focused in keeping up your playing.
Reminder- this Monday is our next Zoom meeting.
Warm up- A- scale: Using the key signature of C+, try going up and down from A to A Concert. Often, the the seventh degree of a minor scale is raised a semi tone, so concert pitch instruments should use a G#, Bb instruments an A#, horns a D#, and Eb instruments an E#.
If all that is too confusing, just practice the C+ scale. The finger patterns are mostly similar. 😀
Practice Section C – E: Place the swing style shot notes with care and precision.
Listening: MP3 #3 is a recording of a Japanese swing band, but it seems to be the same arrangement as our concert band version- for a while, anyway. Compare and contrast with MP3 #4, the concert band version. You’ll find that you can probably hear the accompaniment a bit more easily in #3. Which group had the most effective dynamic changes? (It’s a good reminder that getting softer can add excitement and contrast even in the Jazz genre.
Yuki, Akito and I are really enjoying our Japanese stay. The food is great, and there are no active COVID cases in Yuki’s hometown. People are still responsibly practicing social distancing and wearing masks- which is probably why there are no active cases. Today, we head off for a week in Akito. The plane fare is free! It’s a promotion by the Japanese government set up when they thought tourists would be arriving for the Olympics. >_<
It’s been a bit challenging, though, changing my workflow from desktop computer and robust home wi-fi to iPad and a portable wi-fi hot spot. While my original intention was to send self-contained emails with everything you need, it’s just not working. Going forward, I’ll include only download links to the MP3s and sheet music. All the resources for the summer are also in our Dropbox shared folder.
By the way, re our MCB Zoom meeting on July 13- my annual Condo meeting is Zooming at the same time. Yuki may be able to join you, depend on Akito’s schedule.
We start a new piece this week- Sing Sing Sing. Below are links to a folder with two practice tracks and the complete piece, and a folder with the sheet music PDFs.
Warmup- G+ concert: the arranger made the unusual choice to start the piece in G+. There will be tuning and key signature troubles galore. Start by playing the scale in one octave as slowly as necessary to be accurate and in tune. If that goes well, try two octaves.
Practice- Sing, 0 – C: Except #1 is the slow track. Pay particular attention to the eight note pickups in cut time. Do you best to match the articulation and swing style.
Listening: Enjoy the full recording of this jazz classic. The soloists’ improv is not what’s suggested in your music. I’m prepared to be flexible, and accommodate anyone who wants to try a solo chorus.
Message from Doug – June 28th
As I feared, large emails with attachments get blocked from delivery for some people. I’m sending out four MP3s in a separate email shortly- two rehearsal excerpts and two full length recordings for the Mozart. If you don’t receive them, I created a folder in our shared Dropbox with the MP3s we’ll be using during the summer, plus PDFs of four charts.
Worst case scenario, email me directly and I’ll try sending the files you need by direct email or Dropbox link.
Warm-up- Eb+ scale. Spend four bars on each degree of the scale- four quarters, eight eighths, 16 sixteenths, and a whole note. Use a metronome if possible. Pick a speed that slightly challenges your ability to tongue the sixteenths cleanly. Over the course of the week, try a click faster each day.
Practice- K to end. Particularly from M to Q, some of you have challenging accidentals. Scan your part and woodshed the difficult bars before attempting to play long passages. MP3s #1 and #2 are the slow and normal tempos of K – end.
Listening: 1) MP3s #3 and #4 are quite different at R. Listen to the length of the half note brass chords. Which interpretation do you prefer, or would you do something different?
2) Around U, the recordings differ in tempo. (It’s subtle, but noticeable.) Was this a conductor’s choice or players in #4 losing focus? Which interpretation do you prefer?
3) Recording #4 uses a bigger ritardando. What choice would you make? By the way, neither group brings out the horn glissando heading to the last note. (Everyone else has a short note.) That’s an element I’m planning on adding.
Here’s a link to “#1 K-end mm=90 Mozart Pop Symphony.mp3” in my Dropbox:
The Markham Village Music Festival has come and gone, so I’ll make our feature video available on our YouTube page. Feel free to encourage friends and neighbours to subscribe!
If you didn’t get it last week, here’s a download link for the folder of PDFs for the next set of challenges- Mozart Pop Symphony. Mozart Pop Symphony: PDFs
1) Warmup: C+ Scale, long tones. This key center has some tuning challenges for concert bands. If possible, practice this scale with an electronic tuner. There are several options, but I’ve found that downloading an app is the cheapest and easiest solution. I use Cleartune, but there are lots of choices.
2) Repertoire Practice: Mozart Pop Symphony, G – K. The key center will present technical and tuning challenges. I’d suggest listening to mp3 #2 first, then woodshedding difficult passages, then see if you can play G – K slowly on your own. Only then try playing along with mp3 #1. Hint- the beat subdivision changes from straight at G to swing at I. That means subdivision changes from two even eighths in a quarter to the uneven eighths of swing. Listen carefully to the mp3, paying particular attention to shot note placement.
3) Listening. Mp3 #3 is a full-length recording by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. MP3 #4 is a German group. Try listening to both groups from A-K, find five differences between the two performances, and decide which interpretation or execution you prefer.
Message from Doug – June 15th
Welcome back. It was nice to see some familiar faces during our Zoom meeting last Monday. As I mentioned at the time, MCB is engaged in a gentle experiment to see if using PDFs can replace the thousands of pieces of paper that Beth has to deal with- copying, filling folders and re-filing the music when we’re done. As the band has grown and our number of pieces per year has increased, we’re looking for ways to help Beth and future librarians. Have no fear- while some folks will be using tablets to read the PDFs directly, many of us will continue to use printed parts. We’re asking you to take on that responsibility for yourself, but if that’s impossible for you, we’ll find a way to get you printed music.
1) Warmup: Bb+ scale, finger patterns. After the long-tone warmup of your choice, go up and down the first five notes of the scale- slowly at first, and then for speed. Be sure to build successful synaptic pathways by going as slowly as you need to play error-free. Try different articulation patterns. When that’s really comfortable, go from the second to sixth degrees.
2) Repertoire Practice: Mozart Pop Symphony, 0 -G. This section is written in Bb+/G-, so the key signature won’t be a challenge. I’d suggest listening to mp3 #2 first, then woodshedding difficult passages, then see if you can play 0 -G slowly on your own. Only then try playing along with mp3 #1.
3) Listening. Mp3 #3 is a full-length recording by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. They’ve recorded many of the great charts by Japanese arrangers we’ve been using. It’s rare to find any problems to discuss in recordings from this outstanding ensemble. As you listening, pay attention to the amazing rhythmic precision in all parts. Enjoy.
Message from Doug – June 8th
Flute players: former MCB member Lynn Ikeda sent along interesting news about a free on-line flute masterclass. See below!
1) Warmup: Eb+ scale. Start on a comfortably low note. On the first note of the Eb+ concert scale, start forte and decrescendo to nothing over eight slow counts (maybe four slow counts for flutes and tubas). Rest for four counts, taking a deep breath on the fourth count, and then play the second note. Continue up and down the one-octave scale. Constantly self-evaluate your tone, attack, and release.
This week, focus on bars 64 – 127. Break the work into as small a chunk as you need to play it perfectly- repeat one bar at a time if necessary. You want to build synapses for success, so be patient and work slowly and carefully. For now, play all cues.
When you’re ready, try playing along with track #1. It’s a slowed down mp3 of a full band. You’ll hear four click-track sounds in tempo, and then bar 64.
This week, I’m including two full length mp3s of The Beatles: Love. Take on the role of conductor, and decide which interpretation you prefer, and which group executes the technical aspects (rhythmic unison, dynamics, tuning, etc.) more successfully.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.
a) Listen to the tuning during the introduction of Sgt. Pepper (timestamp 7:31 and 7:24 respectively). Which group is more successful at listening and adjusting?
b) Perhaps due to the players’ technical limitations, #4 chose to slow down the ending. Which tempo do you prefer? Would group #4 have been better to simplify the parts as needed, or does the tempo change work?
c) Which group performs the last two sounds with more precision? It’s a long-held conductors’ axiom that if the beginning and end of a piece are great, you can get away with a bit in the middle. As you listen to the two versions of the ending, do you agree?
I’ve heard from a couple of folks that have found these challenges useful. Great! If there’s anything I can provide to help you enjoy your music during our enforced sabbatical, please let me know..
Sneek Peek: Next week, PDFs and mp3s for a piece intended for our Oct. 2020 folder- Mozart Pop Symphony. Fantastic arrangement of some familiar themes.
And finally, here’s some flute sectional info.
Passing some information along I found out from a Facebook friend in case it might be of interest to the flutists. It’s a free online masterclass taught by spectacular teachers including our Toronto based flutist, Louis Papachristos and led by Carol Wincenc, on Saturday June 20th, 1-3 pm. There are classes for intermediate and advanced players including how to establish a vibrato or tips to practice scales in the intermediate class. The event looks pretty cool! I’m not sure how the event will be streamed and about space, but hope you might consider participating. I think there’s still space to audit. Here is the link for more info and to register: https://www.carolwincencflute.com/cronline.html
June 1 Challenge
1) Warmup: Eb+ scale. Start on a comfortably low note. Play the first note of the Eb+ concert scale for eight slow counts. Rest for four counts, taking a deep breath on the fourth count, and then play the second note. Continue up and down the one-octave scale, staying at a comfortable mf. Constantly self-evaluate your tone, attack, and release.
This week, focus on bars 27 – 64. Break the work into as small a chunk as you need to play it perfectly- repeat one bar at a time if necessary. You want to build synapses for success, so be patient and work slowly and carefully.
When you’re ready, try playing along with track #1. It’s a slowed down mp3 of a full band. You’ll hear a chord from bar 22, four click-track sounds in tempo, and then the drum solo bars 23 – 27 (four bars rest).
Once you’re having consistent success with track #1, try track #2.. It starts from the beginning of the piece and is up to speed.
Hint: Work with a metronome when you’re practicing with the tracks. Track #1 is about mm = 100 bpm, and track #2 is about 126. If you don’t have your own metronome, here’s a good online version:
Here’s a link to an excellent band playing Deep Purple Medley. They’re a high energy high school band with impressive technical and musical skills. Note that they’ve got the piece completely memorized- not a music stand in sight. Listen for the amazing rhythmic precision, even with all the choreograph shenanigans.
Hello, all! I’ve been deliberately not emailing you too often so as not to bother you, but after seeing the response to John Sellens’ recent email we’re going to change that up a little.
First, an update on the theatre season: we are not putting tickets on sale at this time, and we don’t know yet when we will be able to. When that changes we’ll let you know, but for now that’s all on hold. (However, we DO still have our dates – Oct 18th/Nov 29th/Feb 28th/May 2nd, all at 2pm – for the next season, so make sure they’re on your calendar.) Since we can’t rehearse yet and we don’t know when we’ll be able to, selling tickets now would be irresponsible. But we’re ready to go as soon as we can.
Second, the exec had another online meeting Wednesday night and realized we enjoyed being able to see and chat to each other. So we’d like to set up a meeting for the membership.. It’ll either be on Zoom or Google Meet (still working out the details) and it’ll of course be purely voluntary. .
Maps for our Shows
Click ‘view larger map’ on a particular map to go to a full-sized one where you can also get directions to the concert.
Flato Markham Theatre
Markham Village Festival (Main St Markham and Robinson)
Orillia Aqua Theatre
RAIN LOCATION for Orillia
Details in the event of rain for Orillia
Doors to the Opera House will only be open at 5:30pm for load in. Band members can enter via the elevator entrance or front door. The elevator entrance is through the double doors – with windows – toward the back of the Opera House, directly across from the Library entrance in the parking lot.
From the elevator, the stage is on the 3rd floor. From the front entrance or ground floor, the stage is on the 1st floor (meaning up the stairs and through the double doors).
Unionville Millennium Bandstand
Click ‘view larger map’ on a particular map to go to a full-sized one where you can also get directions to the concert.
Suggestion Box (from Heather – June 19, 2019)
Many of you have given the exec ideas and suggestions, which is great. It’s often hard for us to keep track, though, especially when they’re given at rehearsals and we don’t have a chance to write them down.
So, we now have a form! If you go to https://forms.gle/oooDpmBoQ2CEAf186 you can give us your suggestion and why you think it’s something MCB should do. All responses come directly to me, and if they fit with our five-year plan I’ll take them to the exec for a group decision on whether (and when) to go ahead.