First of all let me say that the kids JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band are extraordinary to work with! They are focused, hard working and generally come to rehearsal each week ready to learn and make progress through some very difficult repertoire!
They have just enough ego that they can stand up and express themselves and execute (as musicians need to do) but not so much ego that it impeded their relationships with other band members . I try to express to them early in the year that they are now part of a group where they are amongst the finest young players in the country and can leave any ego at the door!
Another important quality in these sorts of kids is that you don’t need to constantly repeat an instruction to them. They will mark it with a pencil or simply put it in the memory band! If a musical phrase is not being played correctly I can usually correct it by singing, playing or drilling the phrase a couple of times and then that particular problem will likely not appear again for some time.
This year our first concert was with world renowned trumpet player Randy Brecker. I found some interesting charts for the group from a colleague of mine Paul Ashwell. This music was the most complex music that I have had the group play from the start of the year! We ran sectionals every week and met with some great clinicians to help us prepare: Pat Labarbera, Brian O’Kane, Ted Quinlan, Mike Downes, Gordon Foote and Earl MacDonald.
The YBB kids are very conscience about knowing their parts and being prepared for rehearsal. I had many stories from parents about kids coming home this year and practicing for another couple of hours (after rehearsal) because they were not happy with their work at rehearsal.
The latest news from JAZZ.FM91 is that we have started a Seminar Big Band for the students that did not make the Youth Big Band this year. This is proving to be a very successful program as the kids are sounding better and better every time that we meet and are likely going back to their school programs as better players with more information to help their school programs sound even better.