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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000240.txt from 2002/06

From: "Gary Smith" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 17:33:34 -0400

I agree that high school band seems to be set up in many places nowadays to
kill the joy right out of it. I was pretty burnt out coming out of my h.s.,
and put it down for 9 years.

I think that rather than too few amateur opportunities, I think there is too
little information about them being fed to the graduating high school and
college players. I think there is some fault on both sides; band directors
who are so hung up in their own little worlds that they don't really care
what their graduates do, and community music leaders who don't recruit from
these organizations. If they *did* recruit steadily, these bands wouldn't be
so biased towards retirees.

A longish anecdote here to illustrate what amateurs can do, given something
to keep them going right out of school. I live about 50 miles from Auburn
University. A big band was started there in the '30s, the Auburn Knights.
Not a "school" band, just a bunch of lads trying to turn a coin. They toured
during summers and I suppose played Auburn and surrounding area dances any
time they could during the year as well. Incredibly (at least to me), they
never seemed to get the word that the big band era had peaked by the late
'40s, and they have kept going right through to the present day. More of a
niche band than in the 30's, but still playing for pay on a regular basis.

They have a reunion every year, and organize a band for every decade. I
helped out with the 30's band, and listened to the reunion concert/dance
after our band finished playing. The 90's band came on soon after -- good
lord. They simply blew the roof off.

While no doubt many of these musicians are now music teachers, etc., I think
the point remains that if there were more and better vehicles for community
music, there would be much better music in the community. What would a
"community band" or "community jazz ensemble" sound like if it just pulled
one or two of the best from each school band's section every year? I think
it would rival the quality of many "professional" organizations that hardly
ever practice together.

However (and of course this depends on your personality and goals), I think
that to have a really satisfying "amateur" or "semi-professional" music
career, one needs to do more PR and marketing of oneself than many musicians
are disposed to do. Having been back on the horn for nine years now, I think
I work steadily not because I'm a great musician, but because I'm a good
musician and I keep in touch with wedding planners, the music store,
musicians in town who do contracting, etc. And when they hire me, they know
I'll show up and be ready to play.

>From: Bill Hausmann <>
>Subject: Re: [kl] Teaching the 'students' of today
>Date: Fri, 07 Jun 2002 06:41:59 -0400
>At 06:49 PM 6/6/2002 -0700, Gary Van Cott wrote:
>>I think that in the US we are already preparing a vast number of people to
>>be amateur musicians. Think how many people graduate from high school
>>every year having played for at least 6-7 years and who have achieved a
>>level of proficiency sufficient for most community musical organizations,
>>but who have no ambition to be professional musicians.
>>The fact that few of them continue playing suggests factors other than
>>preparation are at work.
>The two factors that I can think of that contribute to this problem are
>1) Too few amateur community musical organizations, and
>2) School band programs that suck all the enjoyment out of playing with
>too much emphasis on competition, etc.
>So many kids shove the horn in the closet after high school graduation
>thinking, "Well, I don't have to do THAT anymore!" The good news is that
>that attitude provides a steady supply of little-used pre-owned instruments
>for the market. ;-) I also wonder whether new high school graduates who
>maybe ARE interested in local community bands are put off a bit by the
>generally advanced age of the current membership. Community bands I have
>been associated with are heavily populated by retirees who have returned to
>their instruments only AFTER raising families and finishing careers. (That
>goes DOUBLE for our audiences.) I don't know what can be done to keep kids
>playing during the immediate post-high school or post-college years when so
>many other important life issues are absorbing them.
>Bill Hausmann
>451 Old Orchard Drive
>Essexville, MI 48732 ICQ UIN 4862265
>If you have to mic a saxophone, the rest of the band is TOO LOUD!

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