Lance Corporal Daniel King is principal clarinettist in the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals (RSIGS BAND). Here he writes about being an Army musician, a role which allows him to perform at many high-profile events across the UK and abroad.
I’m often asked what we do to prepare for a major concert. In this blog I will tell you what normally happens within the few weeks leading up to a concert.
A month or so before a concert the library is given a programme of music by the Director of Music (DOM) or the Bandmaster (BM). Because the music list is out early it gives the band members a chance to look over the music. Concert music is generally much more challenging than marching band and small ensemble music.
There are normally other programmes out at the same time so it is your job to prioritise which pieces need the most attention. It is down to the leaders of each instrumental section to determine what pieces your sections will struggle with. We are usually given time within the working day to have sectional rehearsals.
Within a band you have a lot of experienced musicians as well as younger musicians. The “old and bold” of the band have seen most of the music in the military band repertoire many times before and it is not uncommon to see them helping out the younger members.
The concerts are conducted by the Director of Music (DOM) and Bandmaster (BM). They normally share the amount of pieces between themselves.
In the main practice room the DOM and BM get busy rehearsing the band to ensure that the music is ready to the highest of standard ready to perform out in the public. Some pieces the band know very well so they take minimal rehearsal. Other pieces require lots more time. After playing the pieces in a full band scenario harder parts of the music become more apparent. We are normally given more sectional times at this stage so we can iron out the major difficulties.
I mentioned in my previous blog about the rivalry between the brass and woodwind. There is always ongoing banter about who causes the most ‘issues’ in the pieces. I can confirm that it is most definitely the brass and is obvious to everyone but themselves. They only have to use three fingers, whereas we have to use the whole of our hands. We are definitely the more intelligent.
When the concert day finally comes, we are all well rehearsed and ready to put on a professional show. The band will generally turn up to the concert venue three or four hours before the concert starts. After setting up we do a sound and lighting check. We then have a little time off to prepare our uniforms ready for the concert.