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what a band musician does on 4th of july

Poll #527497 independence day musical cliches

OK, the national anthem is a given, and Stars & Stripes Forever is a given, and the 1812 Overture is for orchestras, not bands. So, other than those, what single piece do you feel most exemplifies playing a band concert for the 4th? That is, you play it every year, and if lightning struck the conductor and the wind blew the music away, you could probably still keep playing the piece just on automatic reflexes.

American Civil War Fantasy
2(10.0%)
Armed Forces Salute
7(35.0%)
Carmen Dragon's arrangement of America The Beautiful
4(20.0%)
that George M. Cohan medley
1(5.0%)
National Emblem
4(20.0%)
anybody's variations on Yankee Doodle Dandy
0(0.0%)
the medley of old-timey tunes, such as Themes Like Old Times
1(5.0%)
something else (describe below)
1(5.0%)

If you said "something else" is the piece that most means "4th of July band concert" to you, what piece is it?




So here's what our day was like: leave apt. at 8:00 to make sure we got to Montgomery Village by 9:00, before the streets were closed off. Haul instruments uphill from parking lot to band trucks. Two pickup trucks, each towing small trailer, with a few people in each truck bed and more on each trailer, about 30 altogether doing the parade. Parade actually started at 10 AM. Conductor standing in the truck in front of my trailer, conducting us with a double-belled euphonium. We played "Officer of the Day" and "National Emblem" over and over again for a parade route just over half a mile. Much of the town turned out for parade, and followed it to the end spot, a large park with lots of picnic tables, shade umbrellas, the town pool, etc. - and a band concert which we played from 11 AM to 12:15 without a break. Did I mention that band musicians' lips often feel like they're going to fall off after something like that? The really nice thing is that for the 45 musicians or so (some who weren't on the trucks joined us for the "stage" concert) there was a giant tent which gave us all shade. The band, by the way, is 100% funded by the Montgomery Village Foundation, which is cool. The concert included 2 pieces by our conductor, Gordon Bowie, including one called Carlisle. It was written for teh US Army War College at Carlisle, and includes lots of neat musical references to things in the history of the site and in the day to day operations. And a few marches by R.B.Hall, who happens to be who Dr. Bowie did his grad work on. And a piece called "Instant Concert" by Harold Walters, which is one of the funniest things I've ever played, and even funnier was listening to Gordon trying to say the names of all 30 classical works excerpted in it in one breath - he didn't quite make it, had to take a second breath... When we finished up, and were walking to our cars, lots and lots of people stopped us to say how much they enjoyed it.

Found lunch, took short nap, and headed out again by 4:00 to get to Bel Air by 5:00 PM before they closed off the streets. Parked near band truck, a large flatbed to hold over 40 people on one bed. The saxes turned out to be the front row, facing the clarinets (and behind them, the rest of the band.) Conductor and percussion in the middle of the truck; one flutist and one drum marching on foot alongside, to be able to see the motion of the parade and what groups were still playing. For that parade, we played "Americans We" and "Semper Fidelis" over and over and over and over... longer parade route, and even more people. The state governor attended this one. (I heard that he had attended 4 parades in the course of the day.) He was right behind our truck. Again, what seems like most of the town turned out - estimate was 40,000 people, which is far more than bother to attend parades in Austin, a city 10 times that size. Independence day is a much bigger deal up here in the states that took part in it! (Fort McHenry is in Baltimore. You remember - where Key wrote our national anthem? Yes, that was a slightly later war, but it still counts...)
After that parade, we set up at the high school, and had about an hour and a half break. Among other things, we watched the 11 baby ducks and their mommy who are living in the courtyard of the school. Funny things. Mallard ducks make a noise that sounds a lot more like "squirp" than quack - it's this pitiful little squeeping rather than a loud noise. Anyhoo, the concert was outdoors, first a barbershop ensemble singing a few things, then the band, about 65 people (again, some who hadn't been in the parade.) We did nearly an hour and a half's worth of music, ending with Stars & Stripes Forever just as the fireworks started. Then a huge scramble by the band members to get the heck out of there before the fireworks ended, so as not to get caught in an hour-long traffic jam.

That's what 4th of July is like.
Tags: band, independence day
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