Delayed UPDATES from the UK

Greetings all!

Sorry about the very delayed updates. Turns out, updates to the blog from the library across the street from our flat are a total pain. Just doesn’t seem to want to work.

We now have internet access at our flat (took 2 weeks to be installed) as well as a phone number which we don’t yet know….i’ll post when we figure it out.

Now on to the interesting brass band stuff that has been happening. If you have not been able to see it, my report from the British Open on 4 Bars Rest can be found here:   http://www.4barsrest.com/articles/2009/1052.asp

The guys from 4BR were just outstanding to me on my trip down to Birmingham. The trip was marvelous and easy. Took a bus from our flat to City Center Huddersfield, and caught a train to Manchester and then another to Birmingham. Not cheap mind you but it was easy. The contest was amazing, so many great bands, and great players. Food and beer were also excellent. Can’t say I have ever heard anything like it.

I have yet to actually play with Brighouse and Rastrick as they had the week after contest off. I’ll start with them on Tuesday (tonight) do 2 rehearsals and then we are off to France for the weekend. We’ll do a show at their national championships and then come back home late Sunday I think.

That said, my playing has been great fun and very educational. It turns out that there is an excellent band about 3 minutes walk from my front door. The Lindley Band is a first section band and was recently a championship section band so they really know what they are doing. They have also been very kind to me and were willing to let me join them for their concert this past Saturday night and the band played very well. 4 soloists (cornet, flugel, baritone, and euphonium) were all excellent. I have some programs from the 2 weeks over here to send to Sal so he can check out some music for all of you.

I have also been sending Sal some of the things that I have learned during my 3 rehearsals and performance the past 10-days with The Lindley Band. Here are some of the highlights.

-CORNETS: we play too loud in the front row (me in particular, and the opposite of what happens in an orchestra). We should rely on Rob to give brightness and punch. No need for us to ever push hard. In my mind Art and I needed to lead in volume and this just isn’t how it works. 4 or 5 voices should all be even and well blended. If Sal needs more we all play more and still no one sticks out. The idea of blend and balance in the front row is very interesting to me. It really has to be a group functioning as 1. (more later on how to take breaks. This is a big deal!)

-EVERYONE: MUCH MORE VIB. Amazing how singing and beautiful it sounds when all the voices from Sop down to 2nd Euph are all using a beautiful, light, and fast vibrato.

-TUBAS: you are actually a group of 6 with the euphoniums. These guys all hear it that way and listen back and forth to each other like a team. Also I almost never hear tuba accents even when they play very loud. Even accented notes have the body of the note behind the accent. Accents seem to come from the percussion and trombones and almost never seem to come from the tubas themselves. For the most part the tubas play less loud (at least in Lindley) and thusly have more sustaining power in choral sections. Also, they seem to have a much better blend. I don’t hear Eb or Bb sticking out in volume, time, or timbre. I think this is the opposite of our orchestral/band training.

-6/8 marches: man these guys make it sound easy. They do work on them the same way we do but they get it and we seem not to. Hand in hand with this idea is that the group is always together regardless of “the man in the middle”. Yes there are precision problems (no band is perfect) but no one ever thinks of themselves as more right or “with the conductor” they just adjust and play together.

I have been spending some time going back and listening to our CD in my current context. We sound more like a symphony band than a brass band. Most of this I think is due to cornet vibrato and volume. As I practice this new vib, I notice 2 things: I have a more singing and warm sound and I can’t play as loud…….interesting.

Lots more after I have my first rehearsal tonight with Brighouse and Rastrick.

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