Concert Band Releases
Give Me Five is written with the early band student in mind. Utilizing only the first five notes on their instruments, students can engage in this rollicking selection meant to inspire and energize the earliest days in the band setting. At the closing of the piece, students can turn to a neighbor and high five their fellow band member as the title suggests.
Originally, Virtual Warrior was inspired by a conversation with my son. He very excitedly told me that he thought, eventually, we should be able to “jump into” video games and experience them “for real.” I loved how his creativity brought him to a place where he could imagine such a thing but I also found the whole concept a little scary! With advancements in Virtual Reality and gaming technology it seems like the line between reality and fantasy is only becoming more and more blurred. Something tells me that his “wild idea” is already a reality! After the COVID-19 shutdown this title took on new meaning. I dedicate this selection to all teachers who boldly reinvented their teaching to navigate the virtual world that was thrust upon them. You are all Virtual Warriors!
Connectivity was written for the 5th and 6th Grade Honors Band of the Hanover Township Public Schools (Whippany, NJ). One of the conductors of this group is a high school band director at Whippany Park High School (Whippany, NJ) which is the regional high school associated with the district. The piece is a symbol of the vital connection needed for elementary students to become successful middle school musicians and ultimately successful high school band members. The opening melodic line is shared by different sections and weaves throughout the ensemble as a representation of this “connection.” The percussion section plays a vital role in providing a contemporary groove, often emulating a drum set, during key moments of this lively concert selection.
To dream of an open field represents a feeling of no obstacles. Doing whatever it is that you want without problems or conflict. This approach can turn most any situation into an "open field" with options. This combination of freedom and happiness together can even lead to a period of personal growth, self-improvement. Talk about a dream! Dream Field is a lyrical selection that explores this concept while stressing air as the fundamental component in a great sound! With a built in focus of phrasing, this selection also affords directors an opportunity to stress the importance of air support and proper breathing techniques while offering a lovely melody and texture to balance most any concert program.
Elephant is, of course, inspired by the incredible mammals of the same name. Their column-like legs, long trunks, and massive presence will never cease to amaze; however, it’s their trumpeting that makes them stand out as the instrumentalists of the animal kingdom! In this selection, an elephant’s slow gate and general demeanor are represented by a methodical tempo and lumbering texture. Woodwinds will enjoy the opportunity to perform grace notes while Elephant also offers exposure to flams for young percussionists. Trumpets and horns even recreate an elephant call using homemade “lunch bag mutes!"
In many societies around the world, a rain dance has served, or serves, civilizations as a plea for increased rainfall in times of drought. Some Native American tribes used rain dances extensively while European examples include the Romanian ceremonies known as paparuda and caloian. These cultures may differ in their heritage however they share a common history of bringing rain via ritual. Rainmaker suggests such a ritual with a strong, driving rhythmic pulse throughout and folk inspired melodic phrases. Rainmaker is a thrilling selection from start to finish utilizing melodic and rhythmic interplay to create drama and intensity. The spirited melodic material throughout will admirably challenge wind players while percussionists will delight in their extensive opportunities! A truly dynamic performance might even make it rain!
Start Your Engines plays homage to the iconic phrase "Gentlemen, start your engines," traditionally used at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This exciting concert selection for young band features the percussion section with opportunities for doubling parts if needed. The band “revs up” right at the beginning as the opposing eighth notes in the drums evoke a race car engine at the starting line. As the piece continues, the winds have opportunities to shine in comfortable ranges with reasonable technical demands. Start Your Engines is great for helping young bands sound their best at concert and beyond.
Many of us fantasize about a world free of obligations. Perhaps you have daydreams about a lifestyle that allows for complete freedom and liberation from daily tasks? Believe it or not this nomadic way of life is a reality for one of the world’s most fascinating birds. The common swift essentially spends its life airborne. While scientists continue to study these unique creatures, they have found that the birds even eat and sleep while in constant motion. In this selection, I found myself exploring the concept of continual flight in a more fantastical way. The title, Neverlanding, combines this idea with a familiar term for a dream world (neverland). This selection captures the incredible euphoria of freedom paired with a hint of sadness and longing for a home. While we may yearn for a more vagabond lifestyle, a sense of home is ultimately where we find comfort and security.
Conjuring breathtaking images of illuminated lanterns floating through the night sky, Paper Lanterns is a delightful selection that will capture the imagination. Celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, the Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year. As the sun goes down, families will often go outside and pay homage to the moon by launching paper sky lanterns (also called Congaing lanterns) which function like tiny hot air balloons. Take your audience to a place of wonder and beauty with this unique selection for young band.
The Waiting Game
Excelcia Music Publishing 2022
As funny as this may sound, I’ve never really loved the word “rest” as a musical term. Particularly with younger students, I think the word may come across as an opportunity to shut down and zone out when, in reality, these moments need our attention! The Waiting Game was written with this in mind as young students will need to be rhythmically focused and locked in to their assigned part. The melodic figures themselves are very reasonable challenges but will call for early players to be confident and independent. Percussionists are asked to “play the game” as well but are also featured midway through the selection. This should keep them more engaged in the piece as they will likely be more rhythmically advanced at this stage.