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Phoenix Concert Band

Autumn Concert

Phoenix Concert Band
St George's Church, Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3BR
Saturday 14th November 2020

Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble


Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble
Monday 30th November 2020

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Article: Rehearsal Tips

The Christmas Concert (now done)

The Christmas Concert (now done)

Every year, conductors find themselves faced with the scenario of another Christmas Concert to prepare. The people running the groups like these concerts as they can be a good opportunity to pull in an audience.

So, at the first mid-November rehearsal, out come the standard pieces and usually a muted groan from all the players.

Here are a few methods for you to consider.

Two contrasting ways of approaching the work. Firstly, there is the exceedingly fussy method.

As the music is generally tonal and full of carols, you can work hard on the phrasing and tuning. The music is generally not too technical, so you can afford to really push the basic skills which are fundamental to the ensemble. By driving the message home constantly, the group finds that they are having to work hard on relatively easy music and the payoff is that the rehearsal is useful, interesting and purposeful. It follows that some of the pieces come alive and the orchestra enjoys bringing the life to the music.

Method two is to rehearse any new music very carefully, stressing the importance of thought and concentration. Then simply run through the Christmas music, making the players alert to your conducting. Experiment with tempo, interpretation and dynamics, giving them from the front without too much chat. The group will have to be alert and responsive to give a good performance on the night as you have not really dictated the direction of the music during rehearsal.

In reality, you may well end up with a bit of both methods really.

I tend to stress that good groups should always play every piece with respect and musicality. Music has to communicate regardless of the actual message contained in it.

On Sunday it took about 12 minutes to get the full musical effect from a 16 bar section of one of the pieces. When the group starts to play in that way from the first reading, without being prompted, that is when the message has finally got across. In the end the quality has to come from the people who create the sound.

As an update to this article, I have to complement the Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra. (see conductor\'s diary) I really put them through their paces to the extent that even Leroy Anderson\'s Christmas Festival got almost an hour of detailed rehearsal. The result? Excellent concert, sounded professional. musical and yes, as if it was the easiest thing in the world to play. Isn\'t music just fantastic!!

Merry Christmas to all my gnus everywhere!

So on the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

12 phrasing clarinets, 11 players tuning, 10 drummers counting, 9 trumpets thinking, 8 flutes not flagging, 7 Saxes blending, 6 Horns attending, 5 Gold timps, 4 euphoniums, 3 Tubas, 2 oboes in tune and a piccolo on a top C.

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