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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, October 21, 2013


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. 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!

Zach Roddy 1986-2013

We are deeply saddened at the loss of our friend Zach Roddy, band director at Bentonville High School. Zachary Lowell Roddy, 27 passed away Saturday, October 12, 2013 following a one-vehicle accident.

Zach was born September 9, 1986 in Vernon, Texas to Gary and Angela (Morris) Roddy. He graduated from Burkburnett High School in 2005 and later from Oklahoma State University in 2009. Zach was currently employed at Bentonville High School in Bentonville, Arkansas as a Band Director. Previously, he was the Music Director at the Tulsa School of Arts & Science from 2010-2013, worked with the Coweta, OK band in 2009 & 2010, the Owasso, OK band in 2011 & 2012, and wrote the 2013 marching band show for Bixby, OK.

Zach's positive personality was infectious. He loved his students and loved his friends & family dearly. Zach enjoyed teaching & composing music, playing trumpet & piano, goofing off with his buddies, making up crazy games, his morning coffee, and a good tobacco pipe out on the deck. Zach made his friends his family, and he'll be missed beyond description.

For those desiring, memorials may be made to Tulsa School of Arts & Science, 3441 E. Archer, Tulsa, OK 74115.

As many of us are preparing for All-Distrtict and All-State Band auditions, I would like to offer some helpful tips borrowed from band director David Robinson many years ago.  If you copy these and provide them to your students, it will provide a systematic approach to audition materials and solo/ensemble preparation.
--Chuck Appleton

Music Preparation Sequence

EVERYTHING below must be done with good TONE QUALITY, POSTURE, POSITION, and ATTITUDE.  Judges are only human and their IMPRESSION of you will effect their RATINGS of you.  Know and understand how your particular instrument is “supposed” to SOUND.  Each instrument should sound full, centered, under control, and rich with harmonics (a sound that PROJECTS easily).  Feel free to ask your director about his listening library or a list of artists/groups you could find to listen to.

1.  Rhythms/Speed - Everything must be correct and under control.  Listen for notes to sound EXACTLY together with either the accompaniment, a metronome, or others in the ensemble.  (VERTICAL PRECISION)

2.  Notes - NO EXCUSES for wrong ones!  Check with a friend, piano, or tuner if necessary.

3.  Articulation - This can make or break the character/style of the piece.....articulations make notes and rhythms FEEL different.  Marked articulations must be followed but can be altered if they fit the style and are remarked for the judge.

4.  Dynamics - Play with VOLUME CHANGES, so that your performance is interesting!  CONTRAST is the name of the game and necessary to produce musical lines.  Without SENSITIVE dynamic contrasts you might end up sounding electronic.

5.  Phrasing/Breathing - Make the audience feel comfortable with your delivery...TIMING is everything!  Think in terms of COMPLETE THOUGHTS.  This relates directly to dynamics also (including percussion).  Too many breaths or concentration on note-by-note playing creates a “choppy” feel with no meaningful musical thoughts.

6.  Style/Interpretation (correct “character”) - What EMOTIONAL IMPACT is called for?  What is the time period? What is the feel?

7.  Memorization (solo/marching band only) - If you’ve practiced to make everything above correct, this will be a PIECE OF CAKE.  REPETITION is the mother of skill and memorization!!

8.  Intonation (with piano or group members) - Strive for a “BEATLESS” or “NON-FIGHTING” sound.  Sounds should FIT TOGETHER perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle or MATCH perfectly as if only one person was playing.

9.  Balance/Blend (with piano or group members) - Players must listen during every performance to adjust WHAT and WHO is important (Balance).  “Like” sounds should MATCH (Blend).

CONTRAST is the name of the game for the tension and release necessary for a MUSICAL PERFORMANCE.  Contrasts can be achieved with tone, speed, articulation, dynamics, and phrasing.  Be aware of all of these areas which are available to you to create the most emotional/musical performance possible.

Performers need as much comfort as possible in order to perform with CONFIDENCE and SECURITY!!  SLOW DOWN the tempo of the music to get ANY of the above things to happen.  If you can’t perform a task slowly, your brain really isn’t 100% comfortable with the skill(s) required...and your audience will also be uncomfortable!  DO NOT WORRY about speed.  It will evolve naturally with the comfort level of your skills.  We perform quickly that which we know backwards and forwards without question.

Chuck Appleton serves as a educational consultant and road representative for Palen Music Center. Chuck taught instrumental music for 33 years. He retired in May of 2010 and is currently a member of the Missouri Valley College faculty in Marshall, MO as a music adjunct. Chuck taught twenty-three years in Warrensburg, where he was director of bands and eight years in Dixon, MO. A native of Sedalia, Missouri, Mr. Appleton received his bachelor of Music Education degree from Central Missouri State University in 1979 and a Master of Music Education degree from Central Missouri State University in 1995. Mr. Appleton served as Band Vice-President for the Missouri Music Educators Association from 2006-2008. Mr. Appleton is also a member of MENC, Missouri Bandmasters Association, Missouri Association of Jazz Educators and Phi Beta Mu. You can contact him by email at [email protected].

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