Band Training Studies - 3. Continuity

To exercises in attack and release there must be added an intelligent understanding of what is to happen in between.  It is simple enough to hold a sustainied note; the tongue is at rest, and the pressure of the breath simply continues the vibration within the instrument.  But this more passive activity must be given careful thought: the tone, whether pianissimo or fortissimo must not sag, or become starved; it must live.  To assist this the bandmaster should always arrange the chords be played to a measured rhythm; asking the players to imagine one or two bars of three-four or four-four time, and suggesting that they try to feel the rhythm even though the sound is sustained.  Exercises in crescendo and diminuendo should also be thus controlled, so that all the time the bandsmen are being subconsciously made aware that music has pulse, and lives.

This continuity can also be well demonstrated in hymn-tune playing - an invaluable exercise, if not indulged in to exess.

But more important still is an appreciation of continuity of idea.  Even in march playing and other rhythmic music, it is to be apparent.  There may be many notes in a bar, and many broken phrases in a section.  The notes will be attacked and released in quick succession; the phrases will be carefully shaped; but through it all continuity of style and tone and idea must go on, and each bandsman must co-operate in this involved team work.  Let the music be precise, but let it also flow and sing.

Printed with kind permission from The British Bandsman.

Posted on October 24, 2011 .