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As Burlington Concert Band members continue to be isolated from each other as a result of not being able to meet weekly for rehearsals since March due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, one way we have been encouraged to stay in touch is by communicating through the band’s website ( Members Only forum. Gordon, one of our band executive members (clarinetist), who works as an Editor in the newspaper publishing company, Metroland came up with this alternative: Keeping Us Connected --- Weekly Questions for Members: Responses subsequently published in the band’s weekly newsletter, Notations.

This week’s question was: “What has been your go-to piece of music during the pandemic?” Including my own, there were a few responses from other members. The one that stood out the most for me was a video shared by member, Paula (flutist). She remarked “ Gord, I remember watching this show at DCI Canada...sitting with my fellow BTTB at Ivor Wynn Stadium. Madison Scouts' show was amazing and the last song in this show still gives me chills! With such a statement, I decided to view this 11:35 minute video in its entirety. The YouTube labeled it as 1988 Madison Scouts Malaguena DCI Drum Corp International Finals Full Video

This field show was indeed a very impressive one delivered by these performers in striking uniforms as they confidently and convincingly expressed themselves out in every aspect - visually, aurally, kinesthetically. Through the ariel shots and close up of the musicians, the videographer highlighted what this Drum Corp executed throughout the show with precision in movement and formation at that moment in time.

It was remarkable how the musicians and those individuals who manipulated their flags in performance kept in sync in their entire body movements - dancing, marching in all directions - while weaving in and out into the various patterns created. With every step, beat, rhythm, the instrumentalists were in line; not one appeared to be out of place; no faltering of the flags as they were thrown up in the air and caught or twirled in time to the music. In the ariel view, I could not help noticing that every member of this band seemed to be of the same in height and stature. Was this a criterion in the audition process I speculate or was this just an optical illusion?

When I studied this video intently by viewing it several times, it brought to mind what it takes to be well prepared for a competition. Without a doubt, it was in the Master Mind / Team commitment and dedication in the works for all intent and purpose, as each one - the conductor, choreographer, band manager, performers, and supporters (friends and family) - played a significant role in this directive; i.e. making it to the Finals.

In the planning out with attention to details in executing excellence in musicianship in the form of artistry and athleticism by these performers, who worked with the process over the months with unwavering perseverance through sweat and tears, I have rated this band as having earned an A triple+ in the goals that were realized in the discipline of music, and the activities that define it in context to the ‘Humanities’ in the nurturing of relationships in order to fulfill a dream. In the realization ... the icing was that it entertained the audience in the stadium; ultimately pleased by what they saw and heard. This was evident in the standing ovation and resounding applause that was given during and at the end of such colorful showmanship.

To have had this video still circulating thirty-two years after the fact, it has created a legacy that identifies the power and effect that the glorious sounds of music still has on the human spirit. With a slight change in the lyrics to that well-loved song in the movie Sound of Music, my creative bent propels me to sing: “The field was alive …” or to another well-known gospel melody “Oh when M Scouts, came marching in …”

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In the definition of a Music Education it is often considered as learning an instrument along with music theory, and in the long term becoming quite knowledgable in the applications of the basic and complex musical concepts within the context of the music. I believe, however, that it needs not to be limited to those “academics” if we are to understand this discipline in its broader sense.

Other interests that continue to ignite my passion as an ‘elite’ Music Educator, are in the pursuit of the visual arts, dance, and literature. I have found that these three artistic endeavors have become references that I use - with hope and trust - to help inspire students to become more appreciative of the piece that they are studying regardless of which level it is categorized.

When we study the great historical composers’ instrumental or vocal works, we need to be more informative of their compositional intent in its extensive creativity by delving deeper into what inspired these composers to produce such masterpieces. Therefore, we need to know who were the masters in literature, the visual arts, the choreographed stylistic dances that influenced these composers to create overarching compositions that mirrored the beauty of the colors and textures as seen on the canvas or the varying emotions that evolved out of the narrative in the story or poem, or the metered rhythms in the physical movements of the dance that highlight its nationality, or were specific to a culture or to a certain class in social standing. In awareness of all these other art forms, composers expressed these back dynamically through the technical and artistic realization of the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic sounds that introduce the performer to a particular musical style or genre reflective of the times.

In the Baroque period, composers in their own creativity were influenced by works of art from the brush strokes of Rembrandt or Watteau. Romanticism at its peak from 1800-1850 was embodied most strongly and diversely expressed out by different artists, sculptors, writers, and composers to express emotions, intuition, and the power of nature in its beauty and unpredictability. As one listens attentively, one can hear these elements in transitory ‘classical-romantic’ works such as in Beethoven’s Symphony No.6, also known as the ‘Pastoral’, or in the grandeur of his ‘Choral’ Symphony No. 9 - wherein the fourth movement it is instrumentally and vocally (4 solo voices and chorus) expressed out to Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy”. Debussy and Ravel were highly influenced by the Impressionistic Movement in Art in the paintings of Monet, Degas, Renoir; hence these composers musically emulated those visually sketchy, fleeting moments in these artists’ masterpieces into their own non-rigid structural and flexible compositional sounds as well.

It is imperative that student performers become knowledgable of the cultural/societal and economic roots from whence such music as the Blues, Gospel, Swing, Bee Bop, Funk styles originated from that defined the Jazz era, and to be appreciative of those great non-white composer-musicians past and present who set the tone as such in a global stage presence for recognition and acceptance. Most of all to perform their musical styles with conviction in their authenticity.

Many visual artists have been inspired as well to create a subject matter on the canvas when moved by a composer’s work, or a story that is portrayed in literature, dance, musical theatre, drama. Therefore each art form cannot be treated as a separate entity as they are dependent on each other to connect the pieces in the Inter-Disciplinary Arts circle; one that is substantial and valid to incorporate into a life long music education.

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