Music in Community
Music for all!
Music Opportunities In Your Community!
You start learning a musical instrument in elementary school. You continue playing through high school and college in the band or orchestra. Then you let it go after getting into a new and exciting career that pays the bills.
As the years pass us by, you regret not keeping up with that musical instrument that gave you so much enjoyment. You sit at home wondering if there are any performance groups to join. What to do?
Music is the greatest art form to participate in. It wasn't invented but evolved over the centuries to what you might agree as a most sophisticated art form. From the very simple to the most complex of styles, it has the power to draw thousands of people from great distances to hear a single live performance. It also has a profound effect on our mental make up as it has the ability to change the way we think as well as the way we live our daily lives. Music in any form can pump us up and calm us down in a matter of seconds or minutes.
Along side the broad catagories of adult activities in the arts, (painting, sculpture, drawing, dance, theater) music claims the largest number of people participating world wide. The passion of music is contagious which most definitely helps explain why many adult performance oriented groups are so large. One hundred plus member choruses, 80 - 120 piece orchestra and symphonic bands. Along with smaller ensembles, gives one a large field of adult music opportunities in your community to choose from.
This article discusses these music opportunities for adults to give you a fresh new outlook as to what might be available to you.
The Concert Goer!
Most of us seek out live performances to attend as we have certain types of music we enjoy, while others feel comfortable going to just about any live performance - especially if it is free!
Depending on where you live may restrict what live concerts are available to you. A large metropolitan area will have larger and more frequent venues available than, let’s say a small town.
Major Symphony Orchestras are a stones throw away from most small towns, but don’t forget about the excellent community organizations that perform throughout the year. These community bands, choruses, and orchestras feature local talent as well as guest performers and conductors.
If the very small town band concerts in the park don't fit your musical appetite, check out some of the larger community bands or orchestras as they have shown fantastic musical experiences for the public. Depending on the type of group, these concerts are usually performed in excellent concert halls for a small fee or free to the public.
If you are moving into a new area, visit with the local chamber of commerce. They will have the best information on this subject. The following list outlines some of the types of concerts available throughout the year to attend.
Military Band Concerts
The top military bands out of Washington DC each year perform on a concert tour in different parts of the country. As not to overlap or interfere with anothers tour, these bands are assigned certain parts of the country each year. The Presidents Own Marine Band maybe touring the East Coast one year while the United States Navy Band is touring the West Coast. This could be happening while the United States Air Force Band is on tour in the central part of the country and the United States Army Band is touring to the south. These bands out of Washington DC are the finest musicians in the world. If you have never attended one of these concerts it's well worth looking into. You will never for get the experience.
Visiting one of the websites of these bands will give you their concert schedule and where they will be performing throughout the year.
Community/Town Concerts (band, orchestra, chorus)
As mentioned earlier, community music organizations are a great source of local entertainment and in many cases they are excellent groups to listen to. You will find that they are somewhat of an extension of your university or college band orchestra or choral programs, so, the literature and repertoire these groups perform will be determined by the expertise of their conductor. Some have great reputations and traditions as they may have been in existence for years. Community group members are your friends, your relatives and your neighbors. Seek out one of these community groups and attend one of their concerts.
Professional Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Dallas Symphony, New York Philharmonic. These are very famous and familiar to most of us as they are solid fixtures in the arts of these cities. Famous orchestras come with famous conductors. Many people attend these concerts because of their love of this medium of performance and to witness the maestro at work and how his/her interpretation of a particular symphony or other types of orchestral work is compared to another orchestra conductor. The magic of a live performance!
College and University Music Ensembles
If you have never attended a college or university ensemble concert before, you're missing out on a great experience. Again, depending on whether this is a small area college or university or a large city, may determine the quality of the group.
If you're in Michigan for instance, The University of Michigan music department is one of the finest in the country which features their instrumental program of several bands and orchestras. Their choral program is very fine and their jazz program is excellent.
A big metropolitan area like Boston is home to many colleges and universities known for their music programs: Berklee School of Music, Boston Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, Boston University, Harvard University all have excellent ensembles that perform throughout the year.
I remember when the group 'Chicago' came to my area for a performance. I got tickets two months ahead so that I wouldn't miss this event. I'm 62 now, but remember listening to Chicago when I was a freshman in college. I had all their albums and I listen to them endlessly. This is one example of many that could describe why it's important to attend these concerts of our 'musical heroes'. There's nothing more exciting or electric than sitting in a concert listening to a music group that you grew up with for years, especially if this might be the last time you ever get to hear the group again.
The Young and the Restless, All My Children, General Hospital. All popular television soap operas designed to keep you engaged for years as they weave the most complex story line. Much is the same when we talk about the special art form called Opera. A theatrical setting for telling a story set to music.
Like its simpler form (the soap opera) an opera will contain all the components of sex, danger, love, crime, suspense etc.... You want dirt - you got it! You want a love story – you've got it!
Most operas perform today are in foreign languages: Italian, German, Russian, Spanish with a few in English. So, if you go to the opera it's a good idea to read the libretto first. This will give you an idea with the opera is about. Most written programs will provide this historical background behind the composer and the Opera.
Some of the most popular time-tested songs have come out of Broadway. From the pens of such composers as: George Gershwin, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin and Leonard Bernstein all contributed to the success and on going traditions of the Broadway musical.
And like the opera, the broadway musical is a story set to music and dance. Another great source for entertainment in the music industry.
Think About This!
"Music Is For All and Not Just The Talented Few!"
The Adult Student!
Many adults have that on going thirst for musical knowledge. It might be in the form of private lessons on that instrument you play or maybe voice lessons from a vocal coach so that you can appear on the next "American Idol". For those serious minded musician the local college or university is often an option.
On the other hand, many areas have community music schools specializing in your particular area of interest. The class schedules are for the most part suited to the working person and fit nicely. Depending on the school, the courses offered will range from private lessons for both instrumental and vocal to the larger classroom setting for theory, history, composition and more.
In some community music schools you will find nicely developed ensembles geared toward the performance minded person. These offerings support the saying that "We are never too old to go to school!"
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What is your favorite type of music group to listen to?
Community Band in Concert
The Community Music Performer
Almost every church has a music program today. Depending on the size of the church and its congregation will dictate how large of a choir and or instrumental group will be. A church choir needless to say will base their music solely on the nonsecular repertoire with a highly religious significance versus the secular music that has little or no connection to the church.
Opportunities in community music most often starts with performance. What do you do after high school and college when you've played in the band all those years? Do you put the instrument in the attic and leave it? Or, do you find a good community band to continue your music participation as an adult? I think the latter is true - don't you?
The Community Band is one of the oldest music activities for amateur and professional musicians alike world wide. These bands go back to the days of the Civil War in this country and years before that in many other countries.
I remember as a young musician of 15 years old and attending rehearsals with my dad every Wednesday night with the "1st Corps of Cadets Band". For me at 15, it was an education that will never forget. For the other musicians who ranged from 20 to 80,
they are there to play some good music and enjoy the comarodity. Some of the folks had been members of this band for up to twenty years. Fantastic!
A great motivation for those who love to listen to great bands or be in one, check out the following website from The Association of Concert Bands.
Many towns throughout the country have community orchestras performing the "classics" for this medium. Again, just to reiterate, a good organization is a result of a lot of hard work put together my the conductor and or the "general manager". I have seen very successful orchestras as well as not so good. These community orchestras are made up of top notch musicians from colleges and universities as well as professional musicians who did not make the higher level of professional symphony orchestra. As a matter of fact and not to insult your education, the difference in a band and an orchestra is that a band does not have a string section (violins, violas, cellos basses) and an orchestra does. The band makes more use of the brasses and woodwinds.
Some of the finest choirs or choruses are community groups. They rehearse weekly, year round and perform several times a year. Many choruses are of the competitive nature and prepare a short program to be performed at special festivals where they get to hear other groups from neighboring towns or states. They travel to these vocal festivals where they are adjudicated before a panel of judges.
Community chorus group offer a fun activity where long lasting friendships are formed and memories are made. If you like sing and perform, a community chorus might be the activity you need in your life.
There is a small jazz combo group that I recently became associated with called "The Survivors". This is a group of seven musicians that perform weekly and sometimes two performances a week. The great uniqueness of this group is that not one of them is under 65 years of age. They play the senior circuit which means that they play many nursing homes and the music from the 20's, 30's, 40's and all the way up to the current day pop scene. And they absolutely sound great! They also have a great organizer.
A Community Band in Performance
A good organizer can be the difference between an "OK" and Great community group.
These are the people behind the scenes with great passion for music who organize performance groups (community bands, orchestras, choruses) from the bottom up. Everything from recruitment, running board meetings, organizing personnel, planning performances and much much more. They are also called the "general managers" or have a similar type title, but most times the organization's success is a direct result of this person who has 'vision' for the group and the hard work necessary for that success. Many times the general manager will work in conjunction with the conductor or musical director. Nine times out of ten these people are all volunteers as are the members of the organization. Lots of hard work but well worth it!
Opportunities in this area of adult music are plentiful and always available.
We need more aggressive and business oriented people responsible for building and maintaining local performing arts organizations. There are many community bands and choruses that fail because they are poorly run due to not having the right person at the helm.
Good Musicians Are Sometimes Hard To Find!
Making Money As An Amateur Musician!
If you are a good or accomplished musician (either vocal or instrumental) there are many opportunities out there for you to earn extra money in the performance field. Most community groups are volunteer in nature but depending on your abilities may open avenues for you to be hired as last minute fill in, featured soloist, pit orchestra player for a show or long term conductor for a group.
There are many theater group performances throughout the year that require musicians for the pit or special vocalists to be part of the productions. Funds have been set aside for these productions for the purpose of hiring musicians and in many cases they will not be looking for professional union musicians. If you get a few of these 'gigs' under your belt, you might find yourself on the short list when musicians are called. So, go get on a list.
Please share with me any comments you may have about community music in your area. We need to keep it alive and well!
Community Chorus in Concert!
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© 2015 Reginald Thomas