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Issue 6103

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TIME CAPSULE - Sandy Smith on a magical moment in time for Black Dyke

The conductors' toolkit - part two

Sunday 27 June, 2021

In the second of his series of articles, Cory Band’s musical director Philip Harper continues to examine the idea of the conductor as a master builder, someone who was involved in a big constriction project but who had to down tools mid-build, leaving the property vacant for more than a year before stepping back on site to pick up the pieces.

This week, he suggests a few more of the items conductors might want to have in their toolkits as bands tentatively return to action after many months in which the sound of live brass has been sorely missing.


Toolkit items:

1) Pencil & tape measure – for planning. “Measure twice, cut once” as they say

2) Pliers – for loosening things up, in terms of the band members

3) Screwdriver – for tightening things up, in terms of the performance

4) Spirit level – for checking everything is correct, which is done by listening carefully

5) Clamp – for making sure things stay together, by setting up or reaffirming the band’s regime

6) Safety goggles – because things sometimes go wrong.


In the previous article I looked in detail at the first two items on this list, discussing the importance of planning rehearsals carefully, and then how to get your band members onside by using your powers of persuasion. This time I will move onto items three and four, so let’s start this week with…

3) Screwdriver

One of the things that I think all conductors should be doing is revisiting all the basics of good band playing. In my opinion, the two most important reminders to issue multiple times in every rehearsal are: “play together” and “play in tune”. Let’s consider how we can use the screwdriver to tighten up these vital areas.


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