A school band is a group of student musicians who rehearse and perform instrumental music together. A concert band is usually under the direction of one or more conductors (band directors). A school band consists of wind instruments and percussion instruments, although upper level bands may also have string basses or bass guitar.
School bands tend to be more common in the United States than others due to a vast increase in funding to music education in recent years. School bands in the United Kingdom are generally similar to those in the US although pure brass bands are more commonplace in schools than in the US. Some countries usually prefer certain special types of bands, usually drums, over conventional ones. The school band movement in Japan is unusually strong, organized around an enormous competition system administered by the All-Japan Band Association. Many international observers of Japanese school bands consider them to be the most impressive in the world, particularly among very young students, and Japan is also home to one of the world's leading professional concert bands, the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra.
- 1 Middle school bands
- 2 High school bands
- 3 College bands
- 4 Other school bands
- 5 Stereotypes and popular culture
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Middle school bands
Although some children learn an instrument prior to entering a middle school (or junior high), students in music education programs within the United States and Canada generally start daily band classes in the 6th or 7th Grade. The students usually make up a band based upon their grade which may then be broken up into sectionals to provide better instrument-specific instruction. It is sometimes required for beginner students to play a recorder for a year before learning another insrument, so that basics, such as scales, embouchure, etc. can be taught easily.
A "beginning" band, consisting of the youngest students in the school, usually gives two or three concerts a year, and may participate in a local/state contest. These bands are given easy but challenging music to learn, often with many duplicate parts and simple rhythms. Students sometimes may be required to memorize the 12 major scales. Depending upon the size of the school, there may be one to three "higher level" bands after the beginning band. These bands are usually divided similarly to high school bands. Some schools require students to audition and be placed in a band according to their ability on their instrument. Others will assign students based on their performance as seen in class. Yet others will simply sort the students according to their age or grade level. Most of these decisions are decided by the conductor. These higher level bands will occasionally play in high school games and pep rallies to augment the local high school band, although in small schools they always come to these events.
Band Method Books
Essential Elements 2000
Developed by Tim Lautzenheiser, John Higgins, Charles Menghini, Paul Lavender, Tom Rhodes, and Don Bierschenk. The series comes with a detailed chart listing the sequence of concepts included. Rhythms begin with long tones, quarter notes, quarter rests, 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4 meter, eighth notes and rests and dotted half, quarter and eighth notes, and sixteenth notes. The series includes brief melodic examples and biographies of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic composers. Additional styles include Latin American, Japanese folk music, African American spirituals, American folk songs, and European folk songs. The title of many exercises fits the concept being covered.
The order of the major topics covered are posture, embouchure, music staff, ledger lines, measures, bar lines, beat, notes and rests, double bar, repeat sign, clef, sharp, flat, natural, breath marks, fermatas, percussion flams, ties, accents, first and second endings, D.C. al fine, slurs, glissandos, multiple rests, chromatic scales. The topics are evaluated through playing quiz assessments. Special feature sections throughout the text include activities that point out developmental skills for students. Teaching tips are included for every exercise.
The text includes fingering charts, supplemental rhythm studies at varying levels of difficulty, and scale/arpeggio exercises for the full ensemble. The Essential Creativity activities are simple composition activities that reinforce phrase building and musical question/answer. The Percussion Tips section provides a large source of information for teaching snare and keyboard percussion. A piano accompaniment book is available, as well as an accompaniment-track CD.
Accent on Achievement
Developed by John O’Reilly and Mark Williams. The text includes the following supplemental exercises: Accent on Theory, Accent on Listening, Accent on (specific instrument), Accent on Creativity. Accent on Theory exercises have the students write in note names and fingerings, or arrange dynamic levels from softest to loudest. Accent on Listening exercises have students echo specific pitches or play melodies by ear and fill in the missing pitches. Accent on Creativity exercises have the students create rhythmic variations or improvise rhythms on a series of given pitches. Specific instrument exercises are designed to develop certain technical skills.
An additional section of exercises includes Accent on Performance, Accent on Scales, Accent on Rhythms, Accent on Chorales, and Accent on Rests. Accent on Performance includes holiday selections and marches. Accent on Scales covers the F, B-flat, E-flat, and A-flat major scales and the chromatic scale. Accent on Rhythms contains twenty exercises in varying rhythmic combination, including quarter notes, eighth notes, and dotted quarter/eighth note combinations. Accent on Rests contains ten examples reviewing half, quarter, eighth, and multiple-measure rests. Accent on Chorales contains four chorales in the keys of F, B-flat, E-flat, and A-flat major.
Terms are presented in the following order: staff, clef, time signature, bar line, measure, double bar, ledger lines, musical alphabet, solo, 4/4 meter, whole note, whole rest, flat, quarter note, duet, breath mark, half note, half rest, 2/4 meter, quarter rest, round, repeat sign, tie, key signature, tempo markings, moderato, allegro, eighth notes, andante, variation, interval, repeat, 1st and 2nd endings, slur, dotted half notes, divisi, 3/4 meter, natural, forte, piano, key signature, ritardando, fermata, pick up notes, accent, orchestration, single eighth note, eighth rest, staccato, dotted quarter note, D.C. al fine, syncopation, dotted quarter/ eighth note combination.
The exercises include simplified themes by a variety of composers and folk songs from a variety of countries. The Teacher Resource Kit includes twenty-one history worksheets, eight theory worksheets, five world music locators, comprehensive assessment exercises for all instruments, four parent letters, listening CD of classical music found in the method book plus band arrangements and chorales, twenty rhythm flash cards, listening exercises, student performance evaluation form, and worksheet record keeping form.
Yamaha Band Student
Developed by Sandy Feldstein and John O’Reilly The material typically covered in book one in other series is divided into book one and two in the Yamaha series. Book Two is a continuation of Book One without progressing to the level of difficulty found in the second book of other series.
Book One presents terms in the following order: staff, clef, bar line, measure, double bar, whole note, whole rest, time signature, half note, half rest, breath mark, quarter note, quarter rest, repeat signs, tempo markings, 2/4 meter, and ties, eighth note, slur, key signature, 1st and 2nd ending, dotted half notes, sharps, pick up notes, 3/4 meter, accent, dynamics, staccato, multiple measure rests, eighth rests, divisi, dotted quarter notes, D. C. al fine, crescendo, diminuendo, legato, D. S. al fine, fermata, dotted quarter-eighth note combinations, previous measure repeat, and common time signature.
Exercises include occasional instrument-specific exercises. Many of the melodies do not list the composer or country/culture of origin.
Book Two contains two parts for each exercise. The first is a unison arrangement for full band, and the second is in a more comfortable range for each specific instrument. Book Two also contains all of the major and minor scales. Terms are presented in the following order: syncopation, cut time, tenuto, ritardano, a tempo, sixteenth notes, accelerando, 3/8 meter, 6/8 meter, enharmonics, triplets, chromatic scale.
Theory exercises in Book Two include Key Signature Review and Chromatic Scale Study.
Supplemental resources include a Teacher’s Resource Guide; a collection of mixed ensembles that correlate page by page with the method book; three poster-sized rhythm charts; a collection of fourteen compositions and arrangements correlated with book one; a student reference source containing fingering charts, practice charts, and glossary; and a duet book.
Standard of Excellence
Developed by Bruce Pearson Terms are presented in the following order: 4/4 meter, whole notes, whole rests, tone, half notes, half rests, quarter notes, clef, tonguing, repeats, quarter rests, fermata, ties, common time, breath marks, repeat signs, eighth notes, dynamics, 3/4 meter, dotted half notes, eighth rests, dotted quarter notes, sixteenth notes, 1st and 2nd endings, D. C. al fine.
Periodically in the text, there are exercises including composition, listening, history, and theory activities. The latter pages of the text contain instrument-specific Excellerators, scale studies, rhythm studies, and glossary. Fingering charts with large pictures of each instrument and its history are included in each book, and a list of the Percussive Arts Society International Drum Rudiments is included in the percussion book.
A large assortment of supplemental materials is included within the book. These include instrument-specific solos; an achievement chart designed to give students points for successfully completing each exercise; accompaniment recordings; diagrams for instrument care, assembly, and proper playing and sitting positions.
The teacher’s edition includes ten quizzes, world maps, a keyboard diagram, conducting patterns, and a Band Director’s Anthology covering philosophical issues, recruitment and retaining tips, parent relations suggestions, instrument selection considerations, tips on motivation, forms and sample letters.
Separate resources include a piano/guitar book and a history/theory workbook.
Belwin 21st Century
Developed by Jack Bullock and Anthony Maiello Level One is organized into eighteen lessons structured into three units. In addition to the exercises there are four song pages, three concert programs, sixteen extra credit exercises, a fingering chart, an interactive video featuring Wytnon Marsalis, and a practice chart.
The early exercises in the text are divided into three groups. All are rote exercises; group one and three include unison and non-unison, while group two contains only non-unison. The purpose is to make the first three notes the students play the easiest for that particular instrument as well as including a version for group unison play. After these are learned it is suggested the students compose their own melodies based on the pitches learned thus far.
Terms are presented in the following order: staff, bar lines, clef, time signature, accidentals, whole notes, whole rests, breath mark, half notes, half rests, quarter notes, repeat signs, eighth notes, round, tie, dotted half notes, 1st and 2nd endings, pick up notes, eighth rests, dotted quarter-eighth note combinations, slur, dynamics, ritardando, fermata, multiple measure rests.
The text has a number of supplement items contained in the method book: instrument workouts for each instrument, presentation suggestions with behavioral objectives, piano accompaniments, and information on exercise origins.
Standard of Excellence, Accent on Achievement, and Essential Elements include a broad approach. These series cover a large variety of musical concepts and skills within a shorter number of exercises.
Belwin and Yamaha include a concise and focused approach. These series center on providing specific fundamental skills and techniques within a larger number of exercises.
Standard of Excellence, Accent on Achievement, and Essential Elements include multi-cultural music as well as specific supplemental information on the music that represents a particular culture or nation.
Belwin, Standard of Excellence, Accent on Achievement, and Essential Elements include a large variety of specific exercises. Yamaha contains an occasional specific exercise but these are not presented in units such as the “Accent on…” sections of Accent on Achievement.
All five of the method books discussed above provide information in specific units that discuss the historical applications of the music being presented in the series. Other method books (e.g. Alfred, Silver Burdett, Hal Leonard) do not contain such historical supplements.
All five of the method books discussed above except for Belwin provide specific units and sections on the development of music theory.
All five of the method books discussed above include a CD for student practice, and all except Yamaha include a piano accompaniment book.
High school bands
High school bands typically challenge students musically more than those in middle school. Music is much more difficult with more complex passages, intricate rhythms and more involved phrasing. Selections also vary in style. A well-rounded band is expected to be able to play a wide variety of music, ranging from serious 'program music' to lighter 'pops-style' music. For many high school students, school bands are the main form of music education available to them in school. Marches were the first major contributions to the wind band repertoire. There are many amazing pieces other than marches written for wind band at present, but there are some historical standards that should be included into the repertoire of advanced ensembles. Some of the most notable of these pieces are Holst's First Suite in E-flat and Second Suite in F, and Grainger's Children's March and Lincolnshire Posy among others.
Below is a list of the instrumentation in a typical band at the high school level. Middle school/junior high bands are usually around the upper values for each instrument. Instrumentation in beginner bands is usually much larger than this. College and professional bands generally have smaller numbers of players. These numbers may vary widely, based on the instrument and the people playing them (as many people playing instruments such as tuba may drop out, causing others to change instruments to fill the need).
- 1 or no Piccolo in C
- 8 Flutes
- 1-2 Oboes
- 1 or no English Horn
- 1-2 Bassoons
- 1 or no Eb Clarinet
- 8-9 Bb Clarinets
- 1 or no Eb Alto Clarinet
- 2 Bb Bass Clarinets
- 1 or no EEb Contra-alto Clarinet
- 1 or no BBb Contrabass Clarinet
- 1 or no Bb Soprano Saxophone
- 4 Eb Alto Saxophones
- 2 Bb Tenor Saxophones
- 1 Eb Baritone Saxophone
- 1 String Bass or Electric Bass
- Percussionists playing:
- Snare drum
- Bass drum
- Cymbals including crash, ride, and suspended
- 2 playing Mallet Percussion, including orchestra bells, xylophone, marimba, chimes and vibraphone
- 1 Timpani
- 1 Drum kit
- 1 set of Chimes
- A variety of other auxiliary percussion instruments used on specific pieces, including Cabasa, Triangle, and Maracas.
In most middle school bands, strings are not used. If they are, the band is considered an orchestra.
Many colleges/universities have band as a class. Some are integrated within a 'Music' course while others are not. They tend to be larger than a high school band and play at a higher level.
Other school bands
There are many other school band opportunities for students. Most of these fall under the jurisdiction of the director that teaches the daily band classes, whether or not the smaller groups meet daily or during school hours.
Many schools, especially high schools in the United States, have a marching band. A school marching band may contain from 11 to over 500 students. Marching bands often practice frequently during the late summer and early fall and most often attend their school's football games, playing music in the stands, and marching a show during halftime. A show is usually between 6 and 10 minutes long, but many competitions place restrictions on length. Bands often compete in marching band competitions throughout the marching season (typically the same time as football season). Competitions vary in intensity. Some areas have many smaller, local competitions hosted by individual schools. Others host a regional competition. Others, such as Bands of America competitions are nationally known and take place in professional arenas.
In addition to their show, marching bands often march parades. Often this is limited to their city or town's municipal parades, but some bands travel to participate in well known parades, such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Years Day.
Many schools have jazz programs in addition to their concert program. Different schools have different time slots for their jazz band. Some meet as an actual class during the school day. Others choose to practice after school two or three times a week. Meeting as a class during school can often cause schedule conflicts with students' academic classes. Typical instrumentation for jazz ensembles will include trumpets, trombones, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, a drum set (often called a 'trap set',) guitar, bass guitar, piano, clarinet and often, a vibraphone. Many areas have jazz festivals, but the popularity of these widely vary from different regions of the country. Jazz bands are most often used as an ambassador ensemble for the band program as a whole. In addition, jazz education is seen as growing in popularity as a speciality area within school music departments.
Schools rarely have chamber music ensembles that meet as real classes, usually depending on the region, state and budget. Most of these groups are ad hoc ensembles put together by the director or the students themselves for a contest or recital. Examples would be clarinet quartets, woodwind quintet, brass quintet, duets, and trios. Groups consisting of the entire woodwind or brass section of a band are also sometimes formed.
Perhaps not associated with the individual school, All-Region bands are audition-only groups for the most advanced players in each school. There are many different "All-Region" bands, ranging from the most local "All-County" or "All-District"(when referring to school districts) to the more prestigious "All-State". Many states also have a level between County and State bands which varies in name according to the area. These events are often highly enjoyed by the students that attend them. Musical literature is often increased in difficulty for the concerts, providing a challenge that isn't seen at schools. Students also get to meet new players on their instrument and share stories from their own band experiences. Region bands typically last over a weekend, though some may meet for over a week before performing a concert.
Though not associated with All-State, Florida has a statewide band festival called Festival of Winds, held in Tampa at The University of South Florida in the first weekend of December. Also, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia have a band festival called Tri-State, held in Tallahassee, Florida at Florida State University in the same time period as Festival of Winds.
Stereotypes and popular culture
"Band geek" is, in a literal definition, a person obsessed with playing band music. However, the term usually relates to the belief that most people who are in school bands are socially inept. The term is sometimes used to describe any student who plays an instrument and is in a band class (including students in the orchestra), or those who play an instrument outside of school, as long as it is an instrument typically found in a concert band or orchestra. "Orch dork" is a variation of this term that is applied specifically to members of school orchestras.
Note that the term, as well as many stereotypes has fallen out of popularity in many schools. In fact, it has become a label of pride for many band members, being found on t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc.
The term "band nerd" is also used as well as band geek, depending on the school.
Gender stereotypes in instrument selection
In school bands, more girls than boys tend to play most woodwind instruments, especially flute, and more boys than girls tend to play brass instruments, saxophone, and percussion. However, this is not always the case.
- Popular films with school bands in its storyline
- Strike Up the Band, 1940
- A musical regarding a teen's attempt to meet director Mr. Paul Whiteman.
- Mr. Holland's Opus, 1995
- A struggling composer ends up making an impact on the lives of high schoolers through music.
- Band, 1998
- A reflection of a school's marching band from summer camp to competition and everything in between.
- American Pie Series,(American Pie 2 2001); American Pie Band Camp 2005)
- Although a movie about teen angst, a male teen falls for a female "band geek".
- Drumline, 2002
- The members of a collegiate marching band fight their way to get noticed by its director.
- August Rush, 2007
- After a one night stand between two great musicians a woman becomes impregnated. The mother is misinformed that her child has died right after birth. 11 years later the child is living in a Gotham City Boys' Home. He runs away in search of his parents and finds his incredible talent for music and uses it to bring both his parents back together.
- Popular collegiate marching bands used in films
- USC Trojan Marching Band, over 13 films and 48 Television Shows
- UCLA Bruin Marching Band, over 20 films
- Popular collegiate marching bands used in film soundtracks
- University of Southern California Marching Band, 1 film
- Los Angeles CA Marching Band, 1 film
- Other collegiate bands in movies
- The University of North Alabama Pride of Dixie Marching Band was featured in the 1994 Academy Award winning movie Blue Sky
- Devito, D.R. (2002). A survey of beginning band methods for elementary, middle, and high school band programs.
- ^ Patnaik, G. and Shinseki, M. (2000) The Secret Life of Teens: Young People Speak Out About Their Lives. HarperCollins
- ^ Bilsland, B. (2004) What It Means To Be In A Marching Band: A Band Geek Perspective For The Musically Challenged. Authorhouse.
- ^ Dumas, A. (2003) Lita: A Less Traveled R.O.A.D.--The Reality of Amy Dumas. Simon and Schuster. p 37.
- ^ Youngs, J.L. (2004) Taste Berries for Teens #4: Inspirational Short Stories and Encouragement. HCI Teens Publishing. p 7.
- ^ Willman, C. (2005) Rednecks & Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music. p 135.
- ^ Trope, Z. (2003) Please Don't Kill the Freshman: A Memoir. HarperCollins. p 44.
- ^ Mark J. Walker (January 2004). "Influences of Gender and Sex-Stereotyping of Middle School Students' Perception and Selection of Musical Instruments: A Review of the Literature". Visions of Research in Music Education 4. http://www-usr.rider.edu/~vrme/articles4/walker/index.htm. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- ^ http://app.cul.columbia.edu:8080/ac/handle/10022/AC:P:17889[dead link]
- ^ http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/42646997/Are-Musical-Instrument-Gender-Associations-Changing[dead link]
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Information found on www.uclaband.com
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Information found on www.imdb.com
- ^ Soundtrack credit found on www.imdb.com
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