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Discussion Starter #1
When I graduated High School I enrolled at SLCC Meramec, and spent (sort of) three years in the Wednesday Jazz Lab Band and a semester at SIUE, before falling away from playing. As I've been getting back into playing again, I had a dream: I was going to try getting back into the Meramec Lab Band, which had a few adult community members in addition to students. The scheduling would be great because they met in the evening, so I didn't need to worry about work conflicts. It wouldn't be as high-pressure and competitive as trying to get into a professional band, and would also be a better learning environment as I get back into it.

Unfortunately, I just learned today that Meramec hasn't had either of their big bands in several years.

Dreams...dashed.

But I still want to play SOMEWHERE.

SIUE met during the day which doesn't work for me, and with Webster and Wash U having major jazz programs the competition is going to be brutal, especially since I'm still just getting back into it. I did some quick Googling for community big bands but haven't had a whole lot of luck (granted, I don't have a lot of time to spend searching tonight). And I've been out of circulation so long I don't know what the scene is like at UMSL.

Anyone in the St. Louis area have any suggestions?
 

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You might find what they call a 'rehearsal band' if you ask around music stores, etc. Its where they simply meet and play charts. Attendees vary and typically the band does not perform, but might do so once a year or so. The big band scene has taken a big hit in the last few years, no pun intended - its practically gone.
 

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And I've been out of circulation so long I don't know what the scene is like at UMSL.
If, by "out of circulation", you mean out of practice, you may well find one of those "community bands" suitable. My experience (YMMV) has been that "community", "adult" (as in "adult band camp"), etc. terms indicate a preponderance of "I miss high school" old people who never played much, or maybe once did, but quit and/or never had very good ears or taste in music. It is often a "social activity" as much as anything.

As for college bands open to the "community", they tend to be as good as the director (assuming he/she is auditioning members), and thus they can be quite good. But being a "college" band is no guarantee. They can be a lot like "community" bands, especially if they have both terms in their name (e.g. Community College).

On the whole, it is true that big bands are dwindling. Working big bands even more so. Considering the "quality" of many of them, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't grieve over fewer opportunities to hear In The Mood or Jersey Bounce played badly.
 

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Well sure, but you have to start someplace. For kids the process is well articulated - grade school music, high school music, on to college music if you plan to stick with it. For adult beginners or "returners" the options are more limited and the path not so well traveled.

I think you dismissed John's suggestion too quickly. A bit of exploration on the website revealed that the tenor man who's profile is listed likely plays/played in a blues or jazz group of some type based upon the pictures associated with his profile. My experience has been that many of the folks that play in these types of groups play in other types of bands as well. You are 100 yards away form the target and trying to hit a bullseye with your first shot. Start by getting close to the target then hone in. In this case just begin networking with folks in your area that play instruments like those in the community band. Then find out what other groups they play with or know of or see if a few of them are interested in starting a combo of some type. Also check out music stores and Craigslist as there may be ads for bands looking for players. There are guys in some areas like Jeff Antoniuk http://jazzteachertraining.com/ who are starting to run programs that are really directed at your demographic but they aren't all that wide-spread yet. You may get lucky and just step into something or find a program that aligns with what you are interested in but there's just as good a chance that you will need to do some networking to find what you're looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I did add my name to the sub list for the Genesis Project (seems that's what became of the Monday Lab Band at Meramec) so that's something. Could always lead to a permanent spot in the future. And I'll be talking with my instructor on Thursday to see if he can point me anywhere. I'd considered inquiring at Wash U and Webster, but unless it meets in the evenings I couldn't do it, and I'm not sure if they take non-students (and if they did, with the kids coming up these days who got to take lessons from the day they picked up their horns I'm likely to be buried by talent, especially since these are two of your bigger music programs in StL).
 

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Hey, I used to play with Bob Kubans Brass in St Louis. I'd go to him and ask if you could talk to his band members. they would know about any kicks band in the area. Also, there are always a few bands playing on Grand St on the weekends (last time I vacationed there) and they are people who might know. Is St Anns Music still in business? Got to the Music stores? There are lots of good players floating around St Louis. I'd be surprised if there weren't kicks bands around. Show up for a rehearsal and see if you might be able to sub? Even better , find a good teacher , take some lessons and get into the scene that way. I did that up here in Nor cal. first lesson with the music store guy he said "You play great , wanna sub for me" and there I went/ K
 

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Re: the community band suggestion. The variability in community bands is huge ... some are of near-professional quality while others are more like the "adult band camp" type described by Schlock. I play in three bands and they are very different from one another. But, and here's the main point...some have affiliated ensembles. One I play with has a low brass quartet, a sax quartet, a 5-piece wind ensemble, AND a swing band that comes very close to professional quality. Furthermore, in this band are many players with many contacts in the professional and semi-professional music world, providing additional resources for you to find a niche for yourself. So maybe you will play some stuff that is not YOUR music, but it might be a road in and, who knows, maybe you will come to like a wider variety of music.

If this approach interests you, here is a great resource for locating bands in your area. http://www.community-music.info/groups.html

Good luck in your search. Cordially, Ruth
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks all for the advice.

As I noted before, I signed up as a sub for Genesis Jazz Project (hopefully if I get called up it will be for a rehearsal the first time, lol). I've also signed up to audition for Wash U's band in August, since they're open to community members. I'm just trying to avoid a situation like I was in during school, where I was involved in too many groups with contrasting types of playing. That's part of what contributed to the frustration that burned me out since it led to too many things I was trying to work at once.
 

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Hey, I used to play with Bob Kubans Brass in St Louis.
I also grew up in St. Louis. Many, many years ago Bob Kuban taught band at Bishop Dubourg High School when my wife went there. His band was an important part of teen years back then. Nice to see his name mentioned again. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well poopie. Didn't make the Wash U band. They preferentially give slots to students, which is understandable, though I wasn't thrilled with my audition, either (first audition in 16ish years, so yeah, the nerves got to me; missed a few notes and my tone wasn't great). So back to the drawing board. I tried reaching out to Boedges with the Route 66 band — which is another descendant of the Meramec Lab Bands — to inquire into openings or alternate slots, but that email bounced back, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Still not having much luck. God it stinks that there's so few options out there. Half tempted to just say "screw it" and see if I can find enough interested people out there who ALSO can't find a group to start our own band.
 
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