Big Band Book System ~ Take 4.5

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. ~ Paul Hawken

Books2Today I was spending another two hours putting the solo tenor book together for the new candidates for that position and discovered that I was unable to put in a full inch-thick stack of new charts that had not been filed. With 230 charts for any given year from our library (of over 5,000 charts), this has been an ongoing challenge. I have spent hours cleaning up the books for people in the sax section who just don’t take the time to keep their books up to date. Imagine a 4 hour session of pulling old charts out, adding new charts, and cleaning up the last concert-order charts.

That’s just crazy. I can’t use my favorite music stand because our book is too big, too heavy. So I am trying a new system. I updated the music master list and labeled each song as A or B.


The A book is our concert book for the year, has about 100 charts, and has maybe 95% of what we will play in any concert. The B book is that year’s library book. I am using the existing huge binder as the library book and the smaller binder as the concert binder.

imageAlso, all my charts have been placed in the binder so that they can be read without removing the music from the books. This means I DON’T have to pull charts from the book, shuffle through that stack and book if our director calls an audible during the concert, and then put the music back in the book after the concert. I have now reduced hours of filing time from my practice regiment.

Turning to the chart is my biggest challenge but after two or three concerts, I can do it almost as fast as others turn to the next chart from a stack of charts.

This solution makes it easier for me to hand my book to a sub. I can’t count how many times I’ve been handed our binder for a sub and there are three stacks to sort through if you are playing the chair:

  • The numbered stack
  • The new stack
  • The last concert stack

This *always* creates a stressful situation for the sub, the section, and the director.

Trumpets2I have never been in a band with as much music to draw from as this band. Most bands have file folders that you pull the music from and the place back in the binder. This takes more time than I’m willing to do for any of my bands. And if the director of these other bands call and audible (a chart not on the play list), it takes the band 3 to 5 minutes to pull their chart. That’s a lot of down time for a band.

It will be interesting to me to see if this system works for us. Now to setup my book with this new method. And then another hour to add the new charts to the master music list. The life of a band manager is not for the faint of heart.

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From a Soldier’s Perspective …


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12 Rules of Practice: Wynton Marsalis

Sound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Horn

Wynton Marsalis knows how to practice. As a younger man, he was equally at home in front of a symphony orchestra playing the Haydn concerto, or laying down some serious jazz with Art Blakey. Check out Wynton’s discography for more evidence of his skill and artistry. That’s what tens of thousands of hours of practice sounds like. Check out his 12 Rules of Practice after the video.

Subscribe to live concert video/audio feeds from Jazz at Lincoln Center, where you’ll hear the world’s best jazz musicians doing their thing in real time (meet the artists). On the LiveStream site you can check out other feeds, too. Knowing it’s happening live is pretty cool. Here’s a concert from Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra highlighting the music of jazz titans Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charles Mingus. Great stuff!

Here are 12 practice suggestions from Master…

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What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege

“I am white. So I have not experienced racial privilege from the “under” side firsthand. But my children (and a lot of other people I love) are not white. And so I care about privilege and what it means for racial justice in our country.”

A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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My first New Year Gig

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

RobinI am so jazzed about tonight’s gig with my wife Suzy on alto and me on bari sax. So many of my friends and Neil, my long-time instructor are sittin’ in with the Microsoft Jumpin’ Jive Orchestra. I have never done a New Year gig because I didn’t want to be up that late, driving home with so many drunks out there. But this seemed like a good compromise.

This year, I decided all musicians should do a New Year’s gig at least once. So I plucked it off my bucket list and booked the band at a plush senior center, with a crowd of over 300 anticipated. We will be playing from 7 to 10 PM with the NYC ball dropping at midnight which is 9 PM pst our time. Our director Bill Sheehan made up a special medley for the occasion and Robin Hilt will bring in the New Year crooning softly into the mic.


Every musician (21 piece band) gets a $75 check which is peanuts but helps buys some reeds, bore oil and the like for next year. Parking is free which never happens at our Seattle gigs. There is a in house sound and lights crew, a green room, and easy access to the stage.

JaAGlogoSo I’m going over my pack out list, lights, fronts, instruments, music, seat cushion, hat, and this year a back up sound system. I’ve redone the set list at least three times so far after our director spent a week setting it up. Did I mention our book is too large? <smile>

When we get there two hours early to set up, I will stress about the little things like placement of the monitors, lights, and fronts. As we near the sound check, I will wonder if that fellow musician who is always late will be there on time. As the crowd shuffles in, I will be softly tuning my instruments, going through the set list again, and then … then the magic moment when we play our opener, Microsoft Jumps!

Happy New Year!

Posted in Band Management, Big Band, Holiday, MJJO, Music, My World | Tagged | 4 Comments

Rain, rain, and more rain

Fly me to the moonGilberto
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby, kiss me

Listening to Astrud Gilberto sing this as it rains outside my window. This is one of those weeks when I spend some time contemplating what my goals for next year might be. Suzy, Deb, and I already have plans to visit Hawaii on a cruise of all the islands. That will be the highlight of our 2016 I do believe.

rainRain calms me, when I’m inside looking out at it, listening to it. There is no faster way at night to put me to sleep than when I’m listening the rhythmic rain pattering on our roof. Living in the northwest (US), I like to say in the winter that rain is not bad compared to the snow most of the rest of the US gets.

‘kay so here are some of my favorite songs about rain in no particular order. Feel free to click the first link below as the soundtrack to the rest of this post.

1. The Waters of March ~ Susannah McCorkle (a favorite I go back to all the time)

2. Have You Ever Seen the Rain ~ Creedence Clearwater Revival

3. Fire and Rain ~ James Taylor

4. No Rain ~ Blind Melon

5. Singing in the Rain ~ Gene Kelly

6. Rainy Day Women ~ Bob Dylan

7. The Rain Song ~ Zeppelin

8. Rhythm of the Rain ~ Cascades

9. Here Comes the Rain Again ~ Eurythmics

10. Rain ~ Beatles

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Christmas Babe Scam

I was toying with finding a lovely Christmas babe picture or wallpaper. My intent was to share a lovely picture and attribute it to the creator. So I found this one.


But alas, upon going to the page to provide credit, I was spammed with a message saying that they were Microsoft and that my computer had been infected with a a virus. Sad that, so much out there being tied to cheating you out of your hard earned money. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the folks that did that spent time on helping mankind rather that trying to cheat us?

I now get three to four calls a week on my landline with people offering to fix my virus laden computer. I usually hang up within less than a sentence of the script being read to me or worse yet delivered from a recording. Here’s hoping that you and yours don’t fall for this scam.

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