Many of us have been in that situation of taking over a dilapidated program with only 20 kids left. What do you do? Published arrangements, even ones written for "Small Band" or "Young Band", don't work unless you have all the parts covered. Tuba? I wish I had a tuba! And you still have a football game the second week of school and everyone is all excited about the "new band coach". In these situations, custom arrangements are a must for your band to have any chance of success. You have to make careful evaluations of each player, and in some cases, have parts written for individual players. Regardless of each players abilities, you have to have each one do what they can to help the band. Custom arrangements are the only way to make full use of the resources that you have on hand. Use of non-traditional instruments (ele. bass, guitar, keyboard, drum set, etc.) may also be something you have to consider.
Please call or email me and lets discuss what we can do to make your small band successful!
Small band arrangement checklist;
1. Players available? Each players ability?
2. Any "non-traditional" players available? Their ability?
3. Equipment available? Condition?
4. Realistic performance expectations? Sit in stands, stand on field, march?
5. Extra staff/help available? Money to pay them?
6. Rehearsal facilities? Time available?
7. Type of music you'd like vs. what the students can be successful with (and crowd will like).
8. Educational goals for marching band this year. (Yes, I said that)
I've written a show for 3 flutes, 2 clarinets, 1 alto saxophone, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, and 3 percussionists. The band marched in front of its home football crowd for the first time in years and the band director became an instant local celebrity! Kids felt great! Program now has over 80 kids, competes in their local marching contests, has a very good jazz band, and does consistently well in their local concert festivals.
One of my early bands started our first day of band camp with 17 kids. 3 1/2 years later they were standing on stage at Royal Albert Hall in London England by invitation to the Lord Mayor's New Year's Day Parade and Concerts. (Love my Lake Worth kids!!!)
A big part in both of these stories is that they started with being successful in the early years with the marching band, and then used that to build on for more success with the rest of the program. Marching band CAN and SHOULD be a big part of your educational plan for every year, but the most important is your 1st year. Set high, but attainable standards! One of the most important decisions you make at that time is selecting music that can make the students successful, and even more so when you have young players with limited ability or a limited instrumentation. Let me help you with that!