Saturday, January 16, 2010


It was 1953. The Lincoln High School Band marched along Broadway Street in downtown Tacoma. Leading the band was a front-line of field drums. Their perfect cadence echoed off what I then thought were tall buildings framing the street. I remember the thrill, the pride, of marching along, trumpet at the ready and playing a Sousa with all my heart.
It was 1953. The orchestra was rehearsing and I was counting measures; 1,2,3,4... 2,2,3,4... etc. Beautiful music; even from high school students. The bass clarinet; have you ever heard a bass clarinet? Unforgettable; better even than a bass trombone.
A church is a lot like a band; a lot like an orchestra. Not everyone plays the same instrument. An orchestra is only an orchestra, a band is only a band, if all the instruments are represented. Two more things are needed; sheet music and a leader; a conductor, if you please. There is always someone whose responsibility it is to make certain that the sheet music is in the right order on the appropriate music stands. (It helps a lot if the band, the orchestra, the church, is playing the same song).
A good conductor keeps the musicians...sometimes a lot of them...on the same page, on the same measure, and on the same time: 2/4...3/4...4/4. He/She knows all the parts and keeps them headed in the same direction, giving emphasis to each section and expression to the music. The conductor is not the band, nor is he/she the orchestra. One can not exist without the other except as silence or cacophony.
What is your instrument? Do we give the trumpet a certain sound or does it blare; drowning out the delicate notes of the violins?
Does everyone strive to be concert master? In every orchestra there is but one; Violin, first chair.
As for me, I am happy to play 6th chair, third trumpet section, in the junior reserve band; not unlike being content to be a doorman in the house of my God.
Play on, for the Lord. Keep your eyes on the conductor. Learn to read music. Play in harmony with the rest of the band.
Blessings. e.c.

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