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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, October 3, 2011


The PMC Quick Note is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest. The Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues!

Marching Rehearsal Tips - Part Two by Eric Matzat

This article contains some tips on cleaning your marching show. There are hundreds of little things that can be done and we would love to hear your suggestions for other tips to share. If you have something that comes to mind, please send it and we will continue to share them in upcoming issues of the QuickNote.

Click here to view Part One of this article.

Featured Sections

As you work to clean both music and drill, it is imperative that each section is contributing to their full potential. Expose various sections by having only a couple of groups at a time perform the music as you work specific sections of the show. For example, identify a section of drill or an entire movement and have only the clarinets and tubas play while everyone else "fake plays" their part. The director will instantly and easily find musical things to fix, the students become more aware of what other sections are playing so listening, pitch, and balance improves, and you can erradiate phasing issues. Repeat the same section of drill but this time have saxophones and trombones play. Depending on the size of the group, you may need to have the percussion section play each time. Exposing smaller groups helps identify issues, builds confidence, helps endurance during a long rehearsal, and allows the students who are not playing to focus all of their attention on marching style.

Have a Plan. Share the Plan.

Be sure you have a specific rehearsal plan for what you need to cover before the rehearsal starts. Share that plan with your staff, section leaders, and full band. The plan is not a secret! After every rehearsal, ask "what can we do now that we couldn't do before?" The answer should be clear and the progress should be ingrained so that you do not have to spend future time re-teaching the skills that were cleaned and improved during rehearsal.

March It Back

Are your students "poky" getting back to the previous set while cleaning drill? March them back instead of just telling them to "reset". On the return, work on a specific fundamental skill. Work on shoulder facings, marching style, interval control, adjusted step sizes, and more on the way marching back to the previous set.

Record It

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a recording is worth many, many more. If you have a small digital recorder and some type of speaker (like your Long Ranger or some type of field amplification for the director), try this technique. Have the students perform a portion of the show...probably an entire movement. While they perform, record them along with you talking through specific comments. "Mary missed the step-off...great trumpet articulations on the fanfare...Steven needs to move further back in the clarinet arc...the tubas are dragging behind the beat after the mello solo...etc...etc." Once the movement is completed, have the students relax while you play back the tape. They can listen to their performance AND hear specific comments on what to improve. Be sure to give very targeted feedback of what you like and what needs to be fixed. (Note: I always let my group relax to listen, but if even one student talked during the playback the entire group had to stand at attention while they listened.) Have the group reset and perform that same amount again while you record again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Balance your comments between marching and music...hornline, guard, and drumline....positive and corrective. Having the students listen to your comments while listening to the actual music gives them context, an understanding of what the show sounds like, and helps to correct balance and pitch problems by raising student awareness. You don't need lots of fancy equipment.....a handheld digital recorder can be purchased for under $200 (from Palen Music, of course) and you can just hold the recorder up to your Long Ranger headset microphone or even a megaphone for playback.

NY Philharmonic Principal Trombonist Coming to Pitt State

Mr. Joseph Alissi, prinicpal trombonist with the New York Philharmonic will be presenting a concert and clinic at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas on Sunday, October 9th at 7:30pm in the McCray Recital Hall.

He will also be giving a clinic/master class in the afternoon from 2:30-4:00 with plenty of Q&A time. Tickets may be ordered by sending a check to: Susan Marchant, Dept. of Music, 1701 S. Broadway, Pittsburg, KS 66762. The tickets will be at will call for the concert. Cost for the concert is $8.00 if ordered ahead of time and includes the 2:30pm clinic. At the door tickets will be the regular rate of $12.00.

For more information, visit

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative


Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Wayne Blades, Jason Moore, Mike Steffen, AAron Bryan (417) 882-7000
Columbia Paul Bowen (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp, Harlan Moore, and Victoria Clymore (816) 792-8301
Joplin AAron Bryan (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Mark VanVranken and Bryan Snyder (918) 286-1555


If you would like to submit material, make corrections, give comments, or wish to be removed from this mailing list, please contact Eric Matzat.  

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