Community Bands

  • I thought I had suggested this before but :Groundhog Day:
    I will post a new thread (In the appropriate spot) about Community Bands. There are lots of pros and semi-pros posting here. I think the CB group could benefit by some feedback from others who are not former pros or semi pros but just want to play but may be frustrated by the traditional (social) Community Band structure. My view (Like GeorgeB) is the if you are a serious player, albeit a recreational player, you are limited by the expectations of the the preponderance of the Community Band. Namely, socialization, lack of practice etc.experience.

    Ok I highjacked this from another thread.

    For Recreational Players -- (and there are sites for that such as Ivan's "Recreational Musical."

    The dynamics for recreational players are very difficult. I play in a NH Symphonic Band, NH Jazz Band, and a related Brass Quintet. The level of commitment varies greatly. The structure is strong. Frustrations are also strong. How to cope?

  • I’ll bite

    My experience with community band does seem to be a source of frustration and joy.
    Musicianship varies big and so does efforts. After a while I got kinda burnt out on this.

    I joined an amateur brass band and have really been being fulfilled. Being a member of NABBA means we compete and I think that brings the best from everyone

  • I started community band involvement in the summer of 2018 and then had to lay off for a year due to health issues. I am back at it now. We had our fall concert last week and our first rehearsal for our holiday concert last night. As a retiree, I value my community band a great deal. I contentedly play third and a few second parts. I enjoy being part of the band and helping my fellow trumpeters as I can. Frustrations? Most of mine stem from the rustiness and lack of dexterity that comes along with being an old comeback player. If I have an organizational frustration, it probably has to do with absorbing the tribal knowledge that veteran band members take for granted.

  • I currently play 1st ( but not lead ) trumpet with an amateur Brass Band that I feel is one of the best in the province. The band gets paid for some gigs but the players are recreational in nature and any money the band earns means we don't have to pay dues very often to keep the band viable. We are busiest during the summer and fall up to Christmas, probably averaging two to three gigs a month and sometimes weekly when doing nursing home tours. We add and learn new material during the slower months ( January to March ). A great bunch of guys and gals with the average age of about 58. The other trumpet player who plays lead first trumpet is great and I love playing beside someone who is better than me.

  • @fels said in Community Bands:

    Frustrations are also strong. How to cope?

    Is the topic: How to cope?

    I cope by voting with my feet.

    In my area there are at least three serious wind ensembles from which to choose, in addition to a New Horizon band (NH). The NH offers a great service for new players, comeback players and those who just prioritize their practicing regime differently.

    I visited them when I looked around. They did not provide for me the kind of opportunity I needed. They seemed to be well led but his directions just scratched the surface, due to his players. Rehearsals were only one hour which, for me, just wasn't worth the time.

    I noticed when they broke up for the day, one woman putting her sax in the case and then putting an oxygen tube in her nose. Bless her and bless the NH for giving her a place to come. But it was just too amateurish for me, so I passed.

  • I played in a community band when I was making a comeback after laying off the trumpet for 7 or 8 years. It was good experience and a place to get my chops back. It is one of those bands with no admission requirements, just show up and play, so there was a wide variety of skill levels. Lots of nice people, and fun most of the time. When it was good, it could be really good, and when it was bad, it could be very bad. It all depended on who showed up at any given time. As for politics, there was little of that going on that I knew about.

    I started out on last chair 3rd, and over the course of a few years moved up to 1st chair solo. After a couple years on 1st, I auditioned for the local semi-pro symphony and won the 3rd chair spot, so I resigned from the concert band at that time. I spent about 5 seasons with them, but the politics was horrendous and most of the trumpet parts were boring (when I even had a part).

    I've also played in a few local big bands and a brass band, but those were by invitation only, so the skill level of the players was reasonably high. Some bands just for the fun of it, and some for fun plus a little cash. I was in too many groups at one time, though, and it became a real drag. The brass band degraded into playing nothing much but pops concerts, and I resigned my 2nd part spot and went on the sub list. Now I regularly play in only one group (a large church orchestra), and sub in a few others when needed. That's enough...


  • @Kehaulani
    Yeah, there is definitely a need for the New Horizons type program, especially for seniors who, like me were serious players in their youth but gave it up for different circumstances, then in their twilight years want to play again.
    My reasons for moving on were somewhat like yours, Kehaulani. I thrive on playing where there is an audience and the local Horizons here only did two concerts a year. Also, the material was not challenging enough.

  • fels had asked “How to cope?” In his OP. Kehaulani reminded me of this in his reply.

    I had written about my personal skill-related frustrations. I cope with these simply by plugging away with practice tailored to address my shortcomings, which we all know is a process affording little instant gratification.

    I had also written about tribal-knowledge related organizational frustration. I cope with this by engaging veteran fellow bandsmen in conversation and listening closely.

    Our rehearsal last night was a reading session for our holiday concert. I came to rehearsal prepared with a common complement of mutes (straight, cup, Harmon, plunger), all of which, except for the plunger, were called for in our music. I was the only third trumpet so equipped. I suppose this could have been a point of frustration, but it didn’t end up being so. I have lots of mutes. I plan to take my extras to next week’s rehearsal and loan them to my fellow third trumpets who might need them. Now, if I could only figure out how to tell the pleasant chap whose trumpet is missing its third slide finger ring why restoring that ring is so important, especially for a third trumpet player!

  • I only have one group in my area as it is very limited in size and players. Most in the community band do not practice. I worked my way up from third trumpet to first. Then I started to switch off between trumpet and french horn due to needs of individual songs. For over a year now, I have been just playing horn in the band. Our section is much more professional and really we don't even need practices. Not so the trumpet section. So I'm happier in this section.

    I have a friend who has played trumpet, tuba and baritone in the band depending on need at the time. I think he is happiest when playing tuba by himself in the band.

    So don't overlook other instruments.

  • Likewise, in my wind ensemble, I have played Alto and Tenor Saxophone, French Horn and Trumpet depending on circumstances.

    While I am not in favour of frequent, regular "challenges" for seating, a periodic evaluation by either the section leader or conductor seems to me productive. If that had've been done in my band, I'd probably still be playing alto sax, my first choice in wind ensemble.

    But good-ole-boy expediency trumped skill over the path of least resistance from the director.

Log in to reply