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Hey so Im currently a senior at my high school and am the leader for our combo. I was wondering if anyone could offer me any advice on how to lead a jazz combo and how to conduct rehearsal? We do have a music teacher at our school but he doesn't really help us with combo, just the big band. I play tenor sax and flute, we have a piano, bass, guitar, trumpet, and drums. I started off with some easy tunes like blue bossa, and tenor madness. For festivals i was thinking st. thomas, song for my father, and wasn't sure about the last one. Also, there are a bunch of people who come into the band room during lunch, so do you think it would be ok if i tell them to leave. Because i dont want to be like that jerk, but i do believe it would be easier to concentrate and really work things out without people there. Anyways thanks guys!
 

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You have a few questions mixed in there. In terms of rehearsals you should be able to use your band director's running of the the big band as an example. Typically everyone should come in, get their instrument ready and warm up a little. Pros are expected to be ready and have checked intonation and what not ahead of time but at the high school level I'd suggest you take a minute or two to tune up. I'd also suggest you focus on just a few tunes during each meeting and not try to cover too much ground. It's always a little like herding cats but even worse at the high school level. My suspicion is the biggest problem you probably have is distractions- both from the band members as well as anyone else who wonders in. I'd insist upon no cell phones for band members and ask them to be focused and engaged.

As far as the other folks in the band room; I don't know that you can make them leave unless you are backed-up by the band director. They probably have as much right to be there as you do. That being said, I think it is fair for you to ask them to respect what you are trying to do and not clowning around just creating distractions because they are board and have nothing better to do than hang out and make a lot of racket.
 

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You should be following the example of previous srudent leaders in your band program.
The maturity of the ensemble will depend on the leadership and overall maturity of the program.
You can come here and ask about songs to play and arrangements to play. But for guidance on how to run things inside your specific program, you need to ask from within.
My recommendation is to purchase quality arrangements, officially reserve the band room for rehearsal time, and be as organized, respectful and responsible as possible.
 

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You are choosing excellent repertoire.
I have a few suggestions:
1. Have everyone memorize the tunes.

2. Use rehearsal time to memorize as a group -- just play them over and over

3. Make a YouTube or iTunes playlist with the original recordings (or other good ones) of the tunes you mentioned. They're all classics and should be a good fit for your group. MAKE SURE EVERYONE IN THE BAND HAS THIS PLAYLIST

4. Also use rehearsal time to get creative with your arrangements...FOR EXAMPLE... you might ask: "hey, can we try having everyone drop out but the tenor & guitar after the trumpet solo?"

5. Solicit similar ideas from the other members of the group, trying to engage everyone in the creative process, in one way or another.

* Another tune you might want to consider would be something modal like So What or Maiden Voyage.

Any thoughts?
~ Rick
 

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The old saying is you can always tell how prepared a group is by how they end songs. So do not skimp endings. Rehearse them over and over. Write down notes if necessary.

We have a pick-up group at work and this always annoys me.
 
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