News & Views Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Ken’s 10: New Marches for Band Wednesday, January 17, 2018

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

With adjudication season just around the corner, January is the perfect time to preview and select marches.  With that in mind I’m excited to share my favorites for this school year, but first a confession – I don’t have 10 new marches for this list.  My choices for the very best new arrangements consist of the new titles that I scored a 9 or 10 out of 10.  The problem – I only have 7 new marches that scored a 9 or 10 combined.  I thought about filling the last 3 spots by dipping in to my 8’s (after all, you can’t have a list of 10 comprised of only 7 – how ‘bout those math skills!), but I have 14 of those.  With no good way to narrow that group to 3, I decided to round out the list with 3 of my very favorite marches from last year.    There are a lot of composers, styles, and difficulties, including some originals, so there is something for everyone and they’re all good!  I hope you find something you and your kids enjoy, and hopefully the adjudicators will too!

American Legion
Charles Parker/arr. Andrew Glover – Grade 2
Here’s a classic American march that is perfect for any type of performance! Limited ranges and technical demands make it ideal for middle school and smaller, less experienced high school bands, while cut-time and standard march style and rhythms make it perfect for the classroom. The first half features solid interplay between melody and countermelody instruments, the trio features a solid melody in the middle voices ornamented by upper woodwinds, and a powerful, “shout” finish gives the whole band a chance to shine.  A surefire audience pleaser!

The American Red Cross March
Louis Panella/arr. David Butler – Grade 3
A stellar example of the American march tradition, this work by Louis Panella was composed to honor the fine humanitarian work of the Red Cross during World War I.  It has that classic fight song type sound, and the 8th note and dotted rhythms in cut-time make it perfect for advancing bands.

The Boom-Boom Galop
Randall D. Standridge – Grade 2.5
A humorous circus-style galop with a Germanic sound, this invigorating march takes adrenaline to a whole new level! Contrasting sections punctuated by the humorous “boom-boom” exclamations of the bass drum make for a fun-to-play, seat-of-your-pants experience that is a blast!  Careful with that tempo!

Matthew N. Putnam – Grade 2
Very accessible.  In 2/4 with easy note values, basic 8th note rhythms, and keys of Bb & Eb, Generosity is an original march in standard form written with developing players in mind. It is reminiscent of the marches of Bennett and King with tuneful melodies, interesting harmonies, and a classic sound.  A few chromatic twists are thrown in to make it more exciting, and mixed articulations add maturity. Mathew Putnam has written a perfect vehicle to teach march style and form to developing players.

Honor Guard March
Claude T. Smith – Grade 3.5
Traditional in all the best ways!  Previously unpublished, Honor Guard March was composed by Claude T. Smith in 1959 while he was teaching in Cozad, NE. Premiered in 1961and written in traditional form, this march contains a contemporary flair and sound that is unique to Smith’s distinctive style, and features an unusual meter shift from 6/8 to cut-time at the trio.  A wonderful addition to your school band library!

Marzo Zingaro
Randall D. Standridge – Grade 1.5
Another work of unique style, Marzo Zingaro seeks to portray the image of a lone wanderer, happily marching across the Italian countryside.  It succeeds. The first strain portrays a more daring mood, while the trio and finale portray a happier style while dynamic contrasts and articulation set the style.  Translated as March of the Gypsy, what more needs to be said?

Harold Bennett/arr. Larry Clark – Grade 2
One of Harold Bennett’s lesser-known marches, Power is in 6/8 and standard march form.  Great for teaching basic 6/8 rhythms, this classic from the original Bennett Band Book is one of his few marches that contains a “break strain.”  Bennett marches are always a sure bet, and Power allows you to add a solid 6/8 march to your library.

Rounding Out the 10 – 3 Favorites from 2016-17
Frederick’s Black Devils
Paul Murtha – Grade 4
During World War II, Winston Churchill initiated the formation of Special Force Commando Units that would prove so effective as to change the course of the war. The First Special Service Force, led by their intrepid Colonel, Robert T. Frederick, was perhaps the most famous of these units. Due to their ferocious nature and blackened faces for night raids, the Germans gave them the nickname The Black Devils. In 2015 they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow. Frederick’s Black Devils is a stirring concert march with hints of British flair that pays tribute to this legendary unit.

Mad Dash (Galop)
Timothy Loest – Grade 2
Mad Dash is an exciting, original galop or circus march for young bands.  Traditionally circus marches incorporated as many musical acrobatics as the acts themselves, and true to form this is a great vehicle for developing technique, articulation, and style while following standard form.  Accidentals and dynamic contrasts abound, it includes a key change on the trio (Bb to Eb) and a full-blown shout to the end.  The tempo marking throws down the (cautionary) challenge:  “As fast as possible, but not any faster!” (144+ bpm)

Harold Bennett/arr. Larry Clark – Grade 2
Every developing band should have at least a couple of Bennett marches in their library.  Perfectly written and designed for developing bands, they feature all the hallmarks of standard march form and style.  Normal is unique in that it is one of only a few Bennett marches to include a break strain – great for preparing students for Sousa and other march masters.  It also addresses cut-time, basic 16th note patterns, features lovely melodies and countermelodies, some chromatic accidentals, and the break strain provides bold contrast to the soft, lyrical trio section.

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004.  His iPod ranges from jazz and funk to classic and alternative rock, and symphonies.  Besides music, he geeks out on amusement parks, hockey (Are 4 hockey podcasts too many?), and all things Pittsburgh.  He spends his free time being Dad to 2 young children and playing saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band.

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