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Music Exams

Three BBJ quintets were examined by officials from the London-based Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) in Medan on Sept 5. Two brass quintets were examined in the intermediate category and one in the primary category. All passed. Read about it here. 

Performance at Sun Plaza

On Indonesia's Independence Day, August 17, 2014 BBJ gave a special performance at Medan's Sun Plaza.

North Sumatra Music Camp

BBJ members attended a special music camp in Brastagi organised by the Salvation Army's North Sumatra division from July 29 to August 3, 2014. Apart from about 60 brass players, there were also 20 choir members and about 10 others learning to play the timbrel. Read about it here.

BBJ Cirebon tour

In December 2013 BBJ travelled to Cirebon in Java to participate in the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Salvation Army's work in the city. 

BBJ sends band trainer to Bekasi

BBJ sent band trainer Ganda Sinaga to Bekasi corps to help establish a Salvation Army band in this satellite city of Jakarta in early December 2013. The move came only a few months after BBJ sent two band trainers to Surabaya in July 2013. 

Second hand instruments were provided from Singapore on loan. Should the project be successful, these will then be donated. 

BBJ tuba player Lasnointer Marbun is already in the process of establishing an SA band in Yogyakarta. Read about it here.  

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Practicing

 Overview
Delegating the work
Relaxing after Band Practice

 


Overview

Normally, the band practices twice a week. Thursday evenings is set aside for the senior band, while the junior band and beginners practice on Saturday. However, some senior band members practice more often than that. When I am in Medan, practices are far more frequent and last longer. Sometimes we practice the bands one after another all day, stopping only for meals and finishing as late as midnight. Fortunately, the superintendent at the Home is very supportive and the neighbours have not yet complained.  The only thing that can really brings these late night practices to a (temporary) halt are the frequent electricity blackouts. We tried using candles, but it isn't very effective!

All band practices are conducted in Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia). Sometimes it can get rather funny when I forget a word or - worse - use the wrong one! There is also the problem of finding the correct Indonesian terms when discussing concepts such as "intonation", "pitch" and so on. My bilingual dictionaries do not seem to be very helpful here. But overall, we manage OK.

Every band practice consists of three distinct parts. They are: (1) technical exercises, (2) intonation studies, and (3) new music.


 Delegating the work

Soon after I had trained a small core of players, we established a teaching system in which the older boys taught the younger ones. All I do now is supervise the process, identifying and correcting problems among the younger players that senior band members do not spot. It is even easier now because some of the boys who have left the Home still play in the band, so I have a small number of players in their early 20s who are well versed in my methods and know the sort of problems to look out for.

Here are some photographs showing how we all work together to get the job done. It all started with me, of course, so here I am getting things rolling. This photograph was taken in the early 1990s.

 

The next two photographs (also from the same period) show how I delegated out the work. Notice the poor quality of the instruments (second picture). All the instruments we use are second hand.

I even got my father to do some of the work!


 Relaxing after Band Practice

Band practice can be tough, particularly after a five or six hour stint. Here is a shot taken around midnight in June 2004 after one such marathon practice! Those  in the foreground are mostly ex-Boys Home members in their early 20s who now form the core of the senior band.

As with many bands which do not have the benefit of hearing live performances by accomplished musical groups (there are very few in Medan), the main musical problem we face is intonation. It is a constant battle to raise awareness, but I am making some progress.

For more pictures of BBJ, go to the BBJ photo gallery.

 

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