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So, I won't name names, but I've come across some college jazz ensembles that really aren't made up of college students. At least not 100%. There are at least 4 or 5 local pros playing in the band.

Is it just me or does this seem wrong to you?

It's one thing if they're pros but they're actually enrolled in the University, working on a Masters or something. There were at least 4 people in my college band I would consider working pros, but they were students working towards their degrees. The year after I graduated, one of the most technically gifted trombonists I've ever heard (UNT alum, top local pro) started working on his Masters at my alma mater and plays in the top band. That's fine. What I disagree with are professionals, who don't attend the university and may not even be signed up for the class, playing with what should be student ensembles.

The same goes for faculty doing the same thing.

IMO, this totally misrepresents the quality of the band and the program. "The band sounds great". Yeah, but the rhythm section and the lead players are all seasoned working pros, what do you expect. It's band directors trying to make the band appear better than it is. Then they cut a CD to show how great the band sounds and no tuition paying students even get to take any solos.

I think this deprives some of the students of a great learning experience. I spent a few years playing 2nd alto under a great lead player. I learned a lot. I might have learned even more when I took over the lead alto chair my last 2 years.

They also bump out otherwise hardworking music majors from being in the ensemble. I can't tell you how pissed I would have been if I narrowly missed being in the top band because some pro, twice my age, who wasn't even a student was taking up a spot in the section. That just doesn't seem right to me. I mean, it's supposed to be a student ensemble, right?

Sorry for the rant but I've come across this a few times and it just pisses me off.
 

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Yeah dude, that kinda gets under my skin, too. The exception is when you just need a sub, and you have to get someone who can do it right the first time... or if you have no one in the school who's qualified to fill the chair. You can't make a great band sound terrible just because you don't happen to have any decent lead trumpet players in the school that year.

When I was in college at Berklee, we frequently had recent grads or even some kids from New England Conservatory filling in chairs in the better bands while I was there. Meanwhile, there were plenty of qualified people at the school who just didn't bother to audition... Sometimes the bands have to take what they can get!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
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I guess it depends if there are adequate numbers of student available to make a decent band, and what the aims of the band are supposed to be.

Im not sure there anything new about this, the Canadian Forces 8 Wing concert band has a lot of local non military participants...
 

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This sounds shady for a large school.

However, when I was doing my undergrad, my school was under 2,000 people...so we had to pull in people (even a high school student) so we could have a full band. With a smaller school, would you really want to deny a bunch of students the opportunity to play in a big band w/ full instrumentation??

One year we hired a bass player (local pro)

One year we played without a 2nd tenor at all...and as a result, the music was never 100% & it was terrible.

The semester after I graduated, they pulled in kid from the local HS to play
2nd alto.

Sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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We'll see how your attitude changes once you're out of school and you live near a college in who's band you'd like to play. ;)

One of the things that I look for when I consider relocating is whether there is a good college music program nearby. Sorry, but I love music too. ;)
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2008
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Yeah I use to laugh at this as well. I've seen quite a few UNT students that could have been in their late 30's playing lead in their top band. I can't recall his name about 10-12 years back the lead alto player was at least 35, but man could he rip like no one else in that band.

As far as I'm concerned it's dog eat dog out in the real world and UNT isn't known the world over because they hold the students hand. You either live in the shed day and night and get your chops up while your a student or you let the opportunity pass you by. I think it's great having more experienced pros in a College band. It gives the students a view into what it really takes to play at the pro level.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Dr G said:
We'll see how your attitude changes once you're out of school and you live near a college in who's band you'd like to play. ;)

One of the things that I look for when I consider relocating is whether there is a good college music program nearby. Sorry, but I love music too. ;)
I am out of school. But lucky for me, the Civic Jazz Orchestra I play with now is made up mostly of pros, semi-pros, and college graduates. IMO, it's better than any local college band. Plays more often too. That and I play some little big band sight-reading gigs.

heath said:
Yeah I use to laugh at this as well. I've seen quite a few UNT students that could have been in their late 30's playing lead in their top band. I can't recall his name about 10-12 years back the lead alto player was at least 35, but man could he rip like no one else in that band.
But if they're actually students, I don't have a problem with it. I'll probably be in my mid-30's when I go back for my Master's.
 

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heath said:
Yeah I use to laugh at this as well. I've seen quite a few UNT students that could have been in their late 30's playing lead in their top band. I can't recall his name about 10-12 years back the lead alto player was at least 35, but man could he rip like no one else in that band.
I played in the One O'Clock for two years, and I'm still in my early 20s. You are REQUIRED to be enrolled in school to play in ANY ensemble here. The thing is, if guys decide to go out and play for a while and come back to school to get a graduate degree, they are required to take lab band credits (assuming it's a jazz studies degree). If there is someone good enough to play in the band, they would put them in it. Age doesn't matter here. A good example would be when I first got to UNT as a freshman (2002). Another freshman tenor player got into the lead tenor spot in the One O'Clock and knocked down a tenor player that was in it the year before. He was a graduate assistant/student at the time. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that if they are enrolled and are good enough, they should get to play in the band.
 

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As far as I'm concerned anyone good enough to play in the band should get to play in the band. Life is short and everyone should get to have some fun.

I like what Dr G. mentioned. For some people the college music scene is actually much more stimulating than what you could get away with playing outside of a school. And UNT has in the past times I've seen them had a killer band(s).
 
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