Brass Band rehearsal & band training

Director of Music & Gospel Arts Dr. Jonathan Corry shares some tips on rehearsing and band training with developing brass bands.


Rehearsal & Band Training

Conducting or rehearsing a really fine band can be an exhilarating experience. However, there can be a greater sense of achievement when leading and working with an average band, especially as one begins to hear it improve rapidly. Such average bands often have more enthusiasm than their more musically distinguished and proficient bands and are a joy to rehearse and work alongside.
There is no question that a sizeable gulf exists between the technical ability of average and top grade bands. Attention to detail in some basic aspects can contribute to minimizing this gulf. The points listed below may be applied to bands with or without conductors and should prove to be a useful tool in rehearsing and achieving balance, blend and a good ensemble.


Training an average Band
I have found certain common faults in all average bands I have worked with. These include but are not limited to the following:


1. Lack of precision – not just attack and release at the beginning and end of phrases, but throughout every bar. With this is bound up a lack of or approximate sense of rhythm, all contributing to create a poor ensemble.

2. Poor, thin tone – this is often the result of the players’ failure to fill their instruments effectively. An example of this is confusing pianissimo with weakness and timidity.

3. Lack of sustaining power – Both single notes and phrases as well as maintaining interest throughout the entire composition. The tendency is to not sustain through long notes, this therefore shows lack of intensity.

4. Untunefulness – This is really intonation (within an average band) with the musicians and player influenced. Generally speaking, the lack of poor aural awareness fuels untunefulness.

5. Wrong perspective – the failure to deal with the main issues first. A complete run-through of the work or movement is advised firstly – particularly if you have limited rehearsals. The weak spots can be found immediately and dealt with as well as giving the musical resources an overview and assisting in establishing a controlled performance even if there is limited time to achieve refinement.

Advanced players can react/respond to stimulus or direction such as artistic phrasing, interpretation etc.. These studies and instructions are a waste of time if the band has no unanimity in attack or note production, is poorly balanced or the musicians are rhythmically insecure.