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Suggested Reading

1. Rehearsal Rooms

Struggling to improve the acoustics in your band room? Check out how the Medan Band did it.

2. Concerned about playing swing music properly?

Check out my guidelines

3. Ear training exercises for bands

Unlike piano players, ear training is essential for wind band performers. But how many band directors bother to give their bands suitable exercises?

4. Intonation problems

While tuning is simple act of adjusting a length of tubing on a wind instrument (often by reference to a single note), intonation is an ongoing process in which a player strives to match the pitch of others in the ensemble during performance. 

5. “Blowing” a wind instrument

A common misconception among wind players is to believe that the air moves through the instrument in order to produce the sound. This is simply not true. 

6. Conducting – suggestions for home practice

The best way for a conductor to improve is in front of a live ensemble. The unfortunate reality, however, is that this is not always possible. Aspiring conductors therefore have little choice but to find other ways of honing their skills.

 

Style & Dynamics

 

Pattern Shape and Size
Left Hand Vertical Movement


Pattern Shape and Size

Varying the size of the beat pattern is a common and very convenient way to communicate changes in dynamic level.  If the conductor wishes the ensemble to play loudly, the pattern should be large.  If a much softer dynamic level is required, then the pattern should be correspondingly smaller.  The shape of the pattern also indicates style.  A sharply angular pattern, for example, suggests a marcato style, whereas a smooth, flowing pattern suggests a more legato approach.


Left-hand Vertical Movement

Moving the left hand along the vertical plane is also useful in indicating a crescendo or diminuendo.  When seeking a crescendo, the left hand should begin on the horizontal plane and move upwards and outwards.  The palm should be open and extended towards the ensemble and may actually rise above the head.  Indicating a diminuendo involves beginning at the most extended position and moving downwards and inwards with the palm of the hand facing the ensemble.  Some conductors prefer moving the hand towards the face, closing the hand slowly until the tips of the thumb and the middle finger come into contact just in front of the mouth.  This can be very effective, particularly when combined with facial gestures indicating a demand for less sound.

 

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