Thursday, 30 September 2010

Playing With Your Scales

Robert Maddocks wants to change the way you do your scale practice:

All too often I hear students practicing their scales ... Up and down, up and down. In the music we hear, scales are rarely used that way. It's the equivalent of learning to paint using the same color combinations over and over. Aside from trying to getting familiar with the scale and trying finger exercises, scales shouldn't be practiced this way. Once you learn a scale and and committed it to memory, you should be practicing it in other ways.


One thing that happens a lot in music is patterns. Music is filled with musical patterns repeated at different intervals and different rhythms. Once you learn the fingering for a scale, it's time to try a couple of patterns and play those through the entire scale. There are innumerable combinations but I'll give you a couple of starters.

click through to Robert Maddocks's for some easy exercises to get your scales working for you!

A tip I like to use is to take the scale to the 9th degree, one past the octave; this gives you an odd number of notes so you can keep a bouncy cut-time or swing rhythm up and down, and then come down skipping every second note: Do-Re Me-Fa So-La Ti-Do Re-Ti So-Me Do and then go back up the arpeggio and down the scale: (C-D E-F G-A B-C D'-B G-E C-E G-B D'-C B-A G-F E-D C), then repeat the same scale again, but starting on the second degree of the scape, so again in C, you play D-E F-G A-B C-D E-C A-F D... (a Dorian mode) and then again on the third scale degree (E-F G-A B-C etc) and on up to the 7th scale degree (B-C D-E F-G A-B C-A F-D B) and repeat the pattern in each key, each time staying with the same scale but starting on a different degree ('mode')

You may notice that this method will introduce you to the pop-music Dominant 7th (the fifth mode, a major with a flatted 7th) and the Dorian (2nd) and Harmonic (Aeolian) minor scales (sixth degree/mode) and presents those scales in the correct context of their key! Do these scales in with the Robert Maddocks rhythm mixups above (or play them to the beat of any drummer's beat you can really imagine clearly in your mind!) and you'll never look at scale practice the same way again!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Executive Agenda Oct 7


Attached: OSCB Agenda Oct 7-finalb.doc

Our October executive meeting for the city band will be held at 7:30 on October 7th at 735 2nd Street 'A' East -- All band members are welcome to attend; please contact any member of the executive for details and see the calendar for the map to our meeting location.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Rockin' @ the Summit Place

We had them dancing in the aisles last night; this band was hot! We had timpanis and congas, Ted on the tuba and Dave on the piccolo, amazing as always, a full-throttle wave of full-on horns and reeds, the City Band ripped it up out at the Summit Place atrium and to prove it, here's the standard of all standards, by John Philip Sousa, gone out as our heart-felt dedication that night to our own 60-years-of-service bandsman Clifford Iles who came out with his son to hear us play.

Cliff joined the band at the age of 9; that was a few years ago, in fact, it was Cliff's dad, Will Iles, who led the first Owen Sound City Band back in 1925, and we're still here, still all-ages, still all-volunteer, and still rockin' the house.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Culture Days in & around Owen Sound (Sept 24-26)

Music at the Market


Culture Days is a collaborative pan-Canadian volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.

One weekend. Thousands of free cultural things for you to do, make, paint, sculpt, act, sing, dance, write, and learn. Discover the world of artists, historians, architects, curators and designers in your community. Inspire the creator in you!

“We believe that the key to understanding and appreciating art and heritage is through direct contact with everyone who creates, invents, communicates, develops, teaches and disseminates all forms of artistic expression that underpins a society’s culture.”

CultureDays events: Within 75 km of: Owen Sound, ON

Culture Days is a collaborative movement that relies on your participation. Everyone has a role they can play, as a citizen, as a business person, as a cultural professional, on behalf of an organization, or in any other way you can imagine. You can be among the first to join this exciting new cross-country network by first subscribing to Culture Days e-bulletins, and inviting your friends, family and colleagues to join the movement.
see more national listings at


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

City Band Executive Posts for 2010

OWEN SOUND (2010-09-21) Owen Sound City Band presents a new executive for 2010/11 season

  • President: Clinton Stredwick (Alto Sax)
  • Vice-Pres: Dave Skelton (Flute)
  • Treasurer: Wayne Smith (Trumpet)
  • Secretary: Julia Richards (Flute & Semi-conductor)
  • Directors: Dan Blenkensop (Tenor Sax) and Jake Bates (Clarinet)
  • Past-President: John Dickson (Clarinet)
  • Conductor: Robert Tite (super-conductor)

The all-volunteer City Band would like to express our infinite gratitude to past-president John Dickson, stepping down after an astounding 14 years as our City Band President!  Our thanks as well to Robert Tite for continuing on as our (super)Conductor and mentor, and our thanks also to seasoned band member Dave Skelton for accepting a post as Vice President, bringing his extensive experience to ensuring the integrity of our unbroken tradition of 86 years as the one and only official concert band to the City of Owen Sound.

And our thanks as well to our incoming executive who now pilot our City Band into the new frontiers, their year-long mission: to explore strange new venues; to seek out new players and new orchestrations; to boldly go where no band has gone before...

Friday, 17 September 2010

The COMPLETE City Band Music Library

The mammoth task is now done and the results are in: we have a spreadsheet containing our complete City Band scores library index, some 700+ folios now cross-referenced by composer, title and chronologically by publishing dates going as far back as 1883!

You can browse our complete list online at or visit to fetch the complete excel spreadsheet (along with some other interesting stuff for free download).

so let's see ... what shall we play?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

GreyRoots Bandstand Grand Opening

And by way of a teaser for the bandstand show, here's a short video preview glimse originally posted to our Facebook Page, the City Band on hand at Moreston Village way back last Canada Day (July 1, 2010) for a test run of the new gazebo -- the sound was fantastic!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Complete Beginners Guide To Practice

Complete Beginners Guide to Music Practice
A downloadable guide to the practice of music practice from our colleagues over at HowToPractice. 50,000 years in the making (200,000 manhours) and best of all, it's all released under a CreativeCommons license, free for the taking with express permission to copy, rebundle and distribute in whole or in part to your music students, your classmates or your band members.

The Complete Beginners Guide to Practice is the How To Practice guide to getting started with music practice. Over 50 pages packed full of advice it is the perfect way to improve your practice.

If you are not already a member of HowToPractice you can join for free. Then if you would like to discuss anything you have read in the guide or ask any questions or get help with your practice then you can do so in the Music Practice Forums.

to pick up your own copy, click here or visit

My most favourite quote on the practice of practice is not actually in this book, it's from the movie Godzilla: Final Wars: two brothers have a falling out and go into the battle practice room, one earnestly tries to do in our hero who, when he gains the upper hand, refuses to deliver a final blow. The teacher interrupts their quarrelling and tells them:

"The purpose of practice is not to better your opponent. The purpose of practice is to be better than you were yesterday."


Concert List for Sept 13, 2010

Our concert order for the Central Place concert in a printable PDF attachment; band members should arrive by 7:15 for set-up. For our newer members, you can get a map to Central Place by clicking on Monday's entry in our calendar on the website.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Shifting the Focus back to Expression and Creativity

The Sensible Flutist offers some insights and ideas to the role of creativity and imagination in the performance of music, even scored music, and adds some advice for stepping just a toe out of the discipline of technical musicianship:
the conversation took a turn towards the question of creativity and how so many performances nowadays are technically accurate or "note perfect" but lacking in musical expression. For flutists, the current focus leans toward technical superiority and perfection. My guess is that this focus extends through all woodwinds because of the physically emcompassing requirements of playing a wind instrument. We get so wrapped up in the physical and technical side of playing the instrument that we forget why we committed ourselves to music in the first place. I certainly didn't start playing the flute because I wanted to learn to control my breathing or have fast fingers. I began playing the flute for the expressive powers and potential it holds.

Classes and books often focus only on the ways and means to make sounds without asking why it is we wanted to make these sounds in the first place; as with reading any script, it isn't so much what you say as what you say with it that counts, and as our flutist correspondent observes, the best way to get a feel for that is to go out and see directly how music is used in the live setting!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Kodaira Dairoku Junior High School Band

From the Japan Wind Orchestra and Ensemble Competition, our twitter-pal @windband tips us to this video of a pretty impressive bit of school bandwork.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Are You Going to Desboro Fair?

UPDATE: due to uncertainties in the weather, the City Band has had to cancel our performance at this year's Desboro Fall Fair.  But we'll be back next year and stay tuned to our calendar for an announcement for a alternate Saturday afternoon date later this month!

Labour Day Saturday and time for a City Band program at the 152nd annual Desboro Fall Fair!
Every year on Labour Day weekend, Desboro hosts an annual Agricultural Fall Fair. The fair brings many of the surrounding farmers together to compete for items such as tallest corn, best hay, best selection of antiques and best antique tractors. There are a variety of games for children (everyone loves to watch the frog jumping competition and play a game at the carnival tent). The local youth demonstrate what they learned as members of the many 4H clubs including the calf club and the Potato club, and you can even have your chance to buy some of the prize winning potatoes.

Clarence Lange, director with the Desboro and Chesley agricultural societies for 75 years, put it this way:

"It was the dream of our forefathers to have an event like this every year. They generated and expected support from the community to make it happen. They needed it then and it's needed now, too."

And just like every year, the Owen Sound City Band will be there to usher in the antique tractor parade for the noon hour with a program of show tunes and some vintage brass band marches!

Did we mention the award-winning pies? For directions to Desboro, click the event title in our calendar at and then click on 'map' to take you right there!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Claude Gordon???s ???The Seven Basic Items???


Why did so many people come from so far away to study with Claude Gordon? What made him unique? Why do so many people owe their careers to this man’s teaching?

The following is an overview of “The Seven Basic Items” with a few brief comments on their implications. Each item is intended to work together in harmony with all the other items. If one item isn’t working correctly there will come a day when the player will struggle.

These exact items are also found in Herbert L. Clarke’s Setting Up Drills, which shows how Claude approached things exactly like Clarke did. He studied with Clarke for ten years. Gordon’s Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing has been misunderstood by some as focusing only on breathing. The point is that once everything is working correctly, playing is as simple as taking a big breath, which anyone can do


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A Beautiful End to Summer!

And so it was, a beautiful summer's evening under the twilight, the geese warming up their flight skills overhead, our last show of the 2010 summer Music In The Park season and a big thank-you to all our fans for all your support and applause over these past many Mondays.  We love this job.

Thanks as well goes out again to Linda Joch for capturing the moment; if you have photos (or recordings!) of the Owen Sound City Band, rememberances of your own tour of duty or of friends or family who have played in our group please do let us know at -- we love to feature our history and we're hoping to piece together an exhibit panel for the Grey-Roots, so any and all contributions are very welcome.

And speaking of memories, hear here now some echos of last Monday's summer season wrap-up, and it being a bittersweet parting, let's finish on a melancholy note with Send In The Clowns