Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making school bands cool again

School bands are seen as uncool
How can we change that?

The music they play (marches, musicals, classical, symphonies ++) are part of the problem.
Creating new music for an entire band requires much work, even rewriting existing well known music is hard.

Create projects where the goal is to play a single pop-song, rap song or similar, heavily inspired by the existing music score.
Take only a few, very talented musicians, able to improvise and have simple score-writing abilities. The instruments should resemble the sound made by the original score. IE drums, Bass brass for base, wind for synth and so on. Using a singer from a choir can also be possible. Simplicity is key.
Each musician/instrument should at first try to mimic the sound their music score makes, before they try improvising. Rehearsal can be done solo at first, playing alongside the original score.
The projects main goal is recreating the original score, but preferably also changing it to their own interpretation. Band members should preferably be changed for each new project, and multiple projects can be run simultaneously.

Note that such projects are expected to be labour intensive, and require much following up.


  1. A bit slow replying but here it comes....

    Firstly, as someone who has recently[1] played alongside a school band, I must disagree with your first point. There are people around who think its actually a lot of fun, myself included.

    But onto my main point, I have thought of taking on similar projects myself, arranging a song I like for a Brass Band. However the problem I keep coming across is that music that is "cool" to listen to, isn't always so interesting to play. To quote wikipedia[2] "The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment.", this makes for a "catchy" repetive tune that is easy to get to like, but insanely boring to play.

    As an example (although admittedly not very modern) the last song I tried to transcribe for use as a solo piece was Tom's Diner[3] however even though the lyrics change to make the piece interesting the melody is only the same two bars repeated over and over again(there are two very small variations) for almost 4 minutes.

    As a result of this repetitiveness found in pop music I not sure this would end up being a good project, the pupils would just get bored, leading to sloppy playing which then means its no fun to listen to either. However if you have any good recommendation of songs that might work well, I'd be interested in hearing them.


  2. Good observation on the fallacy of popular music. However, there should be catchy music out there that's fun to play with. Especially if the musicians are able to improvise.


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