Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Control Issues vs. Musical Issues

I often feel like a stranger in a strange land in community concert band. My background as a therapist combined with my not having previously experienced band behaviors often sets me to wondering why things are being done the way both the directors and the members accept as perfectly normal.

What triggers this feeling the most is how directors can turn musical issues into control issues. Sometimes when an individual or section or the band as a whole is not playing something correctly, the director addresses the issue (in voice tone and content) as if the players are misbehaving and need a little of the drill sergeant approach. In some cases it's obvious to me the players don't understand what's wanted and a simple explanation would suffice. In other cases it seems obvious to me the material is too difficult for some of the players and being heavy handed isn't really going to help. Everybody else in the band seems to accept this as normal.

As a therapist I'd prefer explanations of the musical issues and what technique is needed. And if something seems too difficult for the band, present it as a choice. If the group wants to work hard to make something work we can keep at it. If not, we could shift to something more appropriate to the skill levels. Treating adults volunteering to play in a community band as if they were willful children seems odd to me. But again, since everyone else was in a high school band, it's all seen as normal because that apparently the way it's always been.

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