“I played the wrong, wrong notes.” ~ Thelonious Monk
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Have you ever wished that more of your teaching colleagues would attend your concerts? Wouldn’t it be nice if they could hear and see what your students are capable of? How might you get more of your community involved in your program? Would you welcome having more than just the parents of your students in your concert audience?
These are just some of the questions that I have asked myself over the course of 33 years of directing bands and choirs at multiple levels. While some answers remain elusive, I’m glad to share a few of the ideas I’ve come up with for increasing faculty and community involvement.
A few days ago, I came across a couple of saxophones that I had never seen or heard of before and they looked really, really interesting:
https://www.acimv.fr/nouvelles-news/instruments-volés-stolen-instruments/ (really big pics)’’
I had heard of the Romero System before, but only on clarinets. Then I looked back to see where I heard of them from. Hey, it’s Gandalfe’s website. However, the article was written by Terry Stibal (SOTSDO), a gentleman who was a clarinet Content Expert here until he passed away in 2015.
I thought the keywork was extremely interesting and that led me to undertake a trip surfin’ the Internet today. Here’s some stuff I found:
Full Romero System tan-stained boxwood clarinet from Lefèvre (Paul Bié, the co-author on the Romero patent, owned Lefèvre).
Full Romero System black-stained boxwood clarinet from Paul Bié. This example has a few extremely large zoomable pics.
Partial Romero System blackwood clarinet. This “half Romero” horn is somewhat similar to the #656 saxophone in the above link to www.acimv.fr.
There’s a well-produced video here. (Here’s a bit better version, on YouTube.) It’s in Spanish. There’s a subtitle track here. You can translate the subtitles with Google Translate, if you’d like. The video’s got some great shots of the clarinets — including the patent drawings and original cases — so you can easily enjoy it without the subtitles.
There’s a fingering chart for the clarinet on page 186 of this Google Book, The Clarinet, by Eric Hoeprich. There’s a nice bit of exposition about what the design was supposed to do.
There’s a PDF article here, from the Galpin Society (see pages 4 and 5). The pic is of the tan boxwood horn that I mentioned above.
Here’s a PDF of the exhibition of Antonio Romero at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Madrid. It’s in Spanish. There’s a close up of the tan boxwood horn in the flyer.
I’m relatively sure that there are only four or five remaining Romero System clarinets.
As far as the saxophones go, I believe the two listed on www.acimv.fr are the only examples, as I could not find any other references to them.
Pete Hales, aka SaxPics, Admin for the Woodwind Forum.
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When Jim Glass called to inquire about auditioning for the Woodinville Community Band in 2001, he was asked just one question: “Do you own an instrument?”
Since then, the group has come a long way. In fact, in Glass’s words, it has become “a premier band in the Northwest.” There are now three bands that make up the whole organization, one large concert band and two smaller jazz bands, with a total of about 80 members.
But the transformation from amateur to “premier” didn’t happen overnight. Both Glass and the band’s president, Keith James, credit the concert band director, Leah Weitzsacker, with raising the overall skill level and quality of the band over the past decade.
“You don’t just come and pick up your horn once a week and mosey into band,” James said. “We work to get better.”
The band now holds informal auditions for every seat. “We’re always looking for talent,” James said. “We can always use more percussion.” Certain sections do have waiting lists.
The age range of musicians spans from 17 years old to over 70. Some learned to play their instruments in high school bands. Others are music teachers or directors themselves.
James plays trombone in the concert band and in one of the jazz bands. “Up until last year I still had the same trombone that I had in high school,” he said.
Glass plays saxophone and clarinet in the concert band and has his own jazz band called the Microsoft Jumping Jive Orchestra.
In 2006, Weitzsacker took the concert band director position on one condition — that the players wanted to continue to improve.
“We should always be striving for the highest excellence we can possibly achieve,” she said.
With 52 total members in the concert band, not every person has the rare ability to just sit down and play. That’s where Weitzsacker comes in. “I’m a teacher at heart,” she said. “I think everyone should get to play the best music they can.”
Concert band music is categorized by grades one through six. Weitzsacker said the band played mostly twos and threes in the past. Now, they regularly play fives and sixes.
Weitzsacker’s directing philosophy was part of what attracted James to first join the band about five years ago.
“It’s fun and interesting, but it’s also challenging,” he said. “We sight read what it used to take a whole season to work out.”
The organization started out in 1993 when former Woodinville Weekly publisher Carol Edwards placed an ad in the paper. The first rehearsal took place in the parking lot of Woodinville’s Las Margaritas Mexican restaurant.
Rehearsals have since become much more official and are held once a week. A commitment to attendance is required to join.
All of the members of the band, including the directors, participate on a volunteer basis. The proceeds earned from gigs and donations go back to the organization. “It’s all an act of love,” James said.
What may have been a simple hobby has become a source of pride and camaraderie.
Glass called the band a network of friends. “A two-hour practice can seem like five minutes,” he said. “It’s just a glorious experience to be playing with such talented people.”
The concert band performs three times per year at the Redmond High School auditorium. Each jazz band plays about six gigs per year, and are also available for hire.
The concert band’s two upcoming concerts occur on March 19, 2017 and on May 14, 2017. Each concert usually has a theme.
March’s concert is themed “Dance,” and Weitzsacker said the performance will include a variety of songs connected to dance, including Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and other Broadway musical numbers.
“This group is a lot of fun. They are so enthusiastic,” she said. “I can’t wait for us to play some of the music that I’ve chosen.”
For more information about upcoming performances or to find out how to audition, visit http://www.woodinvilleband.org.
Friend and saxophonist Scott Dart is down with jaw surgery and does this. Woah, my hero. Thanks!
Since I’m unable to play for a few months due to my jaw surgery, I figured that this would be a good time to share solo transcriptions that I’ve done, but cannot and will not ever be able to play well enough to record (to my standards). This is definitely one of those solos!
It’s an epic live Lenny Pickett solo from Tower of Power’s peak lineup in the late 70s. The main solo is nine minutes long, almost 300 measures, and it has some amazing technical feats that I’ll never be able to duplicate. Crazy high altissimo, long passages of circular breathing, as well as some incredibly agile intervallic jumps.
But it’s also filled with some very funky playing, with a lot to learn from. When it comes to transcribing, I’m a bit of a completionist. I feel compelled to transcribe every note, even if I know I’ll never work up that…
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“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” ~ Plato
Surrounded by talented people, people I respected, it was all about finding that sweet spot where all the hard work and effort came to fruition as a defining moment in my musical career. You lived for those brief moments when everything jelled and the audience knew it.
When I was in my junior year of high school, my Dad pulled me to the side and we had this career conversation that went something like this:
Dad: Do you think you would be as passionate about music if I had to do it everyday?
I had to think about that.
Dad pointed across the street and said: “You know John over there, he hates his job.”
I’m thinking, what the Hell?
Dad: “But they pay him so much money to do something called computers (this was in the 70’s) that he works for them 6 months a year. The rest of the time he spends on his hobby.”
So I decided not to major in music, but it remains a very big part of my life today. The same skills and work ethic that got me into music performance helped me succeed in other jobs: teamwork, listening, practice, and preparation.
I traded my old sax in for a new one for my son in the 80s. In 2000, after a 27+ hiatus from music, I bought my dream sax, a Couf Superba I. I started working with a neighbor who was a professional saxophonist. But before the year was over he died; he died from basically drinking too much (liver failed). I asked his wife if I could play him off the stage and she said that would be wonderful.
So I memorized “Amazing Grace” and played it sans accompaniment at the funeral. I played it with some overtones, some vibrato, some emotion. I had gotten the music from an old hymnal and adjusted it to fit my instrument. To this day, some 16 years later, I still have that song memorized. Some of my friends were there and said they didn’t even know I was a musician. Playing for this teacher’s funeral made me realize that I really wanted to play music the rest of my life, as long as I was able to.