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Issue 6056

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Yamaha Band Clinic goes beyond the score

Monday 16 December, 2019

Utrecht, in the Netherlands, was filled with the sound of brass recently as the second Yamaha Band Clinic took place, featuring two days of music making, lectures and instrumental workshops. 

More than 150 participants from eight different bands came together to make music after receiving an invite from Yamaha, learning from artists including Russell Gray, Erik Janssen, Arfon Owen, Katrina Marzella, Armin Bachmann and Simone Rebello. 

During the day there was a mix of band training, sectionals and workshops focusing on a range of topics as part of the theme, Beyond the Score. Subjects included: play fast - practising slow; the art of playing a slow melody; presenting a programme/talking to the audience; the psychology of performance; the role of conducting: a job definition. 

Commenting on the day, Armin Bachmann said: “I was very enthusiastic to see the curious and astonished eyes and ears of the participants. The Yamaha Band Clinic fills an important gap in the development of the brass band scene; it brings topics outside of instrumental music making into the spotlight.” 

After lunch, Erik Janssen directed a forum entitled “what is a successful contest performance?” This experiment gave everyone the opportunity to take up the role of adjudicator, listening to recordings of Petite Suite de Ballet. Attendees then exchanged opinions about the music while gaining an appreciation of the difficulties of the job. All artists shared their experiences about adjudicating and general contesting, with some interesting stories.  

Russell Gray commented: “The best moments for me were sharing thoughts, anecdotes and ideas with the various bands and Yamaha colleagues, while also having the opportunity to spend time chatting with the conductors.” 

A short presentation about the history of Yamaha and the development process of the NEO line-up was given by Yamaha´s product specialist, Timo Hänf. After the workshop sessions, all participants came together to play in the massed band. From the first note there was an overwhelming sound created in Fredrick Schjelderup’s Light, under the direction of Russell Gray. The event also showcased some fantastic solo playing from Armin Bachmann, Katrina Marzella and Arfon Owen, provided lots of fun for everyone involved. 

Simone Rebello said: “Seeing my fellow artists performing and conducting in the final presentation was just fantastic. We don’t often get to hear each other in action.”

The final presentation – and indeed the whole weekend – took place in a friendly, supportive atmosphere which aimed to show why playing in a brass band is about more than simply making music together. It came to a reflective close as Simone Rebello performed A Little Prayer. 

Erik Janssen added: The band clinic was a really inspiring event. All participants received some great insight and went home with a lot of inspiration, new music and lots of new friends.”