I’ve often been asked what the difference is between conducting a professional ensemble and a good community band, and now more than ever it shows – if you conduct a professional ensemble, you walk in to the same identical group each session, same faces on each part, the players are there because they can play and you focus wholly on the music you want out of them. However, in our current community situation, we have, at any given time, up to a dozen people away with sickness, family concerns or holidays, so you are never quite sure who’s face is going to pop up on a part each night. It makes it a challenge for any musical director to cope with, but we manage very well in our band – for the most part, players talk to each other and let us know when and where they will or won’t be, parts are covered and so often the quiet people suddenly step up and do a sterling job. This is the confidence of our band, this is what we have worked so hard for, to nurture and grow, this is what we will present on the contest stage and every other stage we choose to perform on. It is never about the result, but the journey and development we put in to get us there. Professional ensembles cover absentees by simply employing another musician so once again the sound is identical, we cover it by stepping up and having a go.

Musically, our tuning and balance have grown continually over the last few weeks and it’s so pleasing to see the effort that has gone in to learning pieces like Phantom and Oregon are so clearly showing up in other simpler pieces that we are playing for fun, dynamics are being played, speeds are holding and people are listening and watching.

You might wonder why I haven’t written specific notes detailing things that need to be addressed, etc. Trust me, I have those as well, but what I am trying to share is the pride I feel in our band and my admiration of your efforts and dedication. Enjoy this, as far as I am concerned, you are already champions.