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Hey everybody, Chris here. I've just recently started playing 2nd tenor in my high school's Jazz Band. A lot of things have changed since I switched schools this year. I want to ask a few things about the things our Jazz Band does and see why they are done :

1) All saxophones use the same mouthpiece. Except for bari, we all use Meyer Metal 5J's. What does this accomplish? I always thought mouthpiece choice was about personal expression, and that each player should be able to blend any mouthpiece with the section. Thoughts on this?

2) Should doublers be allowed to double in a high school jazz band? I myself play most woodwind instruments, and I can play any of them in a jazz setting. I've used them all at some point in jazz band, but only on fooling around days when we're not practicing seriously. When I talk to my jazz instructor, he tells me they're not "real" jazz instruments. Thoughts on this?

What I also would like, as my last question, is some good jazz band arrangements to tell my instructor to look at. Any normal jazz (NOT ROCK) is appreciated.

Thanks All:)
 

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I've been teaching and playing for over 30 years. I've never encountered a band in which all of the students play the same mouthpiece set-ups at any level-junior high, high school and college-but I have heard of this before. I've played in many different bands over the years. We all use different mouthpieces and we all double.

What does your private lesson teacher think about this?
 

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I've been teaching and playing for over 30 years. I've never encountered a band in which all of the students play the same mouthpiece set-ups at any level-junior high, high school and college-but I have heard of this before. I've played in many different bands over the years. We all use different mouthpieces and we all double.

What does your private lesson teacher think about this?
Exactly. And much more tactful than I would have put it. It seems to me that the teacher has no real idea what s/he is doing. I think I'd have a talk with my parents right away. Show them this thread. Ask them what they think you should do going forward.
 

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1) Some directors think that if everyone playes on the same set up they will sound the same/blend better. I think it's bunk, but whatever...

2) Instrumentation of the Jazz band is at the discretion of the director. If he says no clarinets or flutes, then it's no clarinets and flutes. Put the bug in his ear that you are a 'doubler' just in case there is a chart that requires one of these 'non-real' jazz instruments. I've heard jazz oboe and it was too freakin' cool.

3) If your director is a real 'poopy head' about numbers 1 and 2... Suggesting new arrangements might not be a good idea.
But that doesn't mean you can't hint at a few you may have 'heard' other bands play that you thought might be worth trying. :bluewink:
 

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If it was a "real" Big Band, you probably wouldn't get the job if you couldn't double on flute and clarinet. The instructor sounds like an idiot...(to be less tactful than even gary might have been).

Edit:
It definitely depends on whether the chart calls for doubling, and most high school level charts won't include much doubling because most high school jazz bands don't have enough players capable of doubling...(when doubling is called for it usually involves more than one player, if not the entire section). But for a so-called jazz instructor to look you in the face and say that flute and clarinet aren't "real jazz instruments" just makes my head want to explode.
 

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Re the mouthpieces -- yeah, that's silly. As long as the section has a good sound concept, the players can have different setups. If the overall goal is modern and loud, probably no one should be on a C*. If the goal is dark and old-fashioned, people should probably avoid high baffle guardalas. But as long as the goal is "middle of the road," everyone should have lots of options to sound great and blend well.

Re the doubling -- not every chart requires doubling. I certainly played flute (poorly), clarinet (mediocre), and all of the saxes in high school. And SOME charts called for those doubles, but most just required me to play the alto. Your director will NOT sub in one clarinet to play a tenor part -- that WOULD cause blend problems. But if the chart asks for the section to double, you'll be told in advance to bring your clarinet, etc. Its about whether the written part calls for the double.

OR, you can ask your teacher to let you take a solo on a double. E.g., a clarinet solo or flute solo could be very hip in the right context. But again, ask first.
 

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Eh, there is a high school in my area that is sorta like this. The band teacher recommends everyone plays on Yamaha horns with Meyer mouthpieces.

There are not a lot of charts for High School that have written in woodwind parts (ie: flute in tenor 1, etc). Honestly, you might think you sound good on it, but you probably don't. I know I've heard a number of High School bands where there is supposedly this really good student who takes lessons with this really good teacher and they play everything really good. Never happens that way.

I can't think of anything I ever played in High School that had anything other than saxophone. Of course, I don't really remember high school so......
 

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I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your director has little to no actual jazz experience. But music programs are supposed to have jazz bands and students want to be in them so he's somewhat forced to teach something he knows virtually nothing about. Probably doesn't play an instrument typically found in a jazz setting either.

The mouthpiece thing is ridiculous. It's fine to make some suggestions and maybe lay down some parameters (no super high baffle pieces that are going to drown everybody out), but dictating what people play isn't necessary. BTW, who plays on a metal Meyer? I can honestly say I've never heard anyone (or even heard of anyone) using a metal Meyer. My guess is that somebody told him Meyer's were good jazz pieces (they are) and he associates metal with jazz so he's just going off of what somebody told him combined uninformed assumptions and really just taking a hard line stance with it.

I get the no doubling thing. Most high school students can't double. If one sax can double and the other 4 can't, why try to play charts that call for doubles? Schools with really good programs might do that to encourage doubling, but most directors don't want to bother with it. They want the band to do well and score high at contests and they don't want students playing secondary instruments that they don't know very well yet. It's hard enough to get students to practice their main instrument let alone their 2nd and 3rd instruments.

And like mentioned above, most charts written for high school level musicians won't have doubles written in. They may have alternate parts, but they're not meant to replace the sax parts. But the whole thing about flutes or clarinets not being "jazz" instruments is complete BS. Just another piece of evidence that your director is working out of his comfort zone and really doesn't know what he's talking about.
 

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Doesn't Lincoln Center have some kind of hs band Ellington charts available?
Did the instructor provide those mouthpieces or make the students buy them?
Regarding doubling, in a big band you don't let doublers play their other instruments just because they can do it (except for a solo), the music dictates whose playing what, and that is realistic professionally as well. If the charts are all sax, that is what those songs were written for. Technically wouldn't it infringe the copyright to alter the work by using an unauthorized clarinet or flute on an arrangement without the composers permission? ;)
Maybe he's trying to keep y'all out of prison...
 

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I think this is pretty common, at least in my area. I hear stories about this often, even for concert band. Eg: All clarinet players should have R-13's (Yes, really) and Selmer HS* mouthpieces, all trumpets must be Bach Strads,. etc. Of course the student's parents can refuse, but then they and their child are classified as "not motivated". It sounds wild, but I had similar experiences with my kids when they were in band. Sad, really. Of course I've always thought it interesting that a trombone/tuba playing band director should be giving horn/mouthpiece advice to sax students. After all, he did take a three hour Woodwinds course. It is a tough job, though, so we'll give them a little slack and hopefully the kid will turn out OK.
 

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All the same mouthpiece and horn?

Must be nuts, unless the school provides them.
 

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Everyone having the same mouthpiece sounds strange.

Regarding doubling in the jazz band, my daughter's director doesn't get charts that require doubling. He does, however, let clarinet and flute players who don't play any sax into the jazz band. They play the alto and tenor sax parts. Drives my daughter nuts. My daughter can double however, and he's going to let her play the clarinet solo in "Begin the Beguine" this year, I guess as a thank you for all she puts up with in the band.
 

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Doubling should not be a problem as long as the director knows you are capable of doing so. As far as having to have a certain mouthpiece that is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard when applied to jazz mouthpieces. I personally liked having the freedom to choose to have a high baffle/tip opening mpc in high school and, think if I were forced to play or own any metal alto piece I would be tempted to chuck it at his head(not really, I just find metal pieces above tenor to be terrible).
 

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my directors love the fact that i can play most woodwinds. in jazz i mainly play tenor but when i want to/am asked to i play alto or bari. my primary instrument is Bass clarinet but i am doing region on Alto Clarinet and mabey a solo on Bb clarinet.
 

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Here's what I would do (and what I did do as a young teenager in a "jazz band" in 8th grade). Take some CDs or some tunes on your i-thingy to school. Tunes of big jazz bands you admire and like. Or maybe find some YouTube videos - a search of YT for "big band" yields a ton of good stuff. Like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_sVUoYJxfo - nice flute and clarinet in here.

BTW, regarding the mouthpieces, I say shame on your band director. That is just nonsense. Especially because Meyer is not even a good 2nd choice for tenor sax.... it's fine for alto, but not so good for tenor. Now if the director had said - altos play a Meyer rubber 5M and tenors play a Link STM 5* and the bari plays a Berg 90/3 (or Link STM 5*), then I could see it. I wouldn't agree, but I could see it. But to have everyone play Meyer metal 5's - makes me think the director might be getting a little of the old kickback...
 

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1) All saxophones use the same mouthpiece. Except for bari, we all use Meyer Metal 5J's. What does this accomplish? I always thought mouthpiece choice was about personal expression, and that each player should be able to blend any mouthpiece with the section. Thoughts on this?
Not my preference - my well-meaning high school teacher did the same thing. Only our mouthpieces were Bril (rhymes with "shrill") hart Levelaires. Owwww... Yes, it was her first jazz band and it was an opportunity that never before existed in that school. Kudos for trying to do the right thing.

2) Should doublers be allowed to double in a high school jazz band? I myself play most woodwind instruments, and I can play any of them in a jazz setting. I've used them all at some point in jazz band, but only on fooling around days when we're not practicing seriously. When I talk to my jazz instructor, he tells me they're not "real" jazz instruments. Thoughts on this?
You misspelled "dabbling". :twisted: Sheesh, you guys aren't old enough to have a solid sound on your saxes yet. Commit to that rather than dilute your too-brief practice time dinking around on the lesser instruments.

Arrangements: At what level is your band playing? Give a listen to high school jazz bands on YouTube to find some things that match your desires and abilities.

G'luck. Enjoy the ride. High school will be over way too soon.
 

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It is just overwhelmingly obvious to me that the director doesn't understand that the same mpc isn't going to work for everybody.
 

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Exactly. And much more tactful than I would have put it. It seems to me that the teacher has no real idea what s/he is doing. I think I'd have a talk with my parents right away. Show them this thread. Ask them what they think you should do going forward.
I agree, but many band directors have this thing about all players in a section using the same mouthpiece. Since the mouthpieces are already being used, I would just humor the director and not get parents involved. There are worse sins than everyone in a section using the same mouthpiece. It's like concert band directors insisting that the whole clarinet section use Vandoren B45 mouthpieces. It's silly, but not worth getting parents involved.
 

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It kind of makes me cringe when I think about altos in a big band playing on metal. I remember one alto player in high school that played a metal piece couldn't even stop it from squeaking.
 

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yea i think everyone should be allowed to use the mpc he or she is most comfortable with... that's obvious because eventually it will reflect on the musicians performance!
 
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