1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

I'm trying out for my high school's jazz band. Need some help.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Marc., Sep 5, 2008.

  1. So I asked the instructor if I could try out for jazz band, and he told me to bring my bass in on Monday and we'll look over some notes and chords. I asked him if I would need to read standard notation and he said yes. I tried learning standard notation a while ago but I've forgotten it all by now.

    Mostly I want to ask, do you guys have any websites or tips so I can nail this audition? More importantly, what chords should I know and what exactly does he expect me to do with them?
  2. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Your average HS jazz band chart will have a written out bass line. Some have only chords, some have both. I have taught/coached a number of HS jazz players - some at the All State level - and reading is a must.

    Have a fruitful weekend.
  3. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    My HS Jazz band was all written...no chord charts just sheet music, but we where low budget rinky dink, no time to teach the rhythm section anything, if I had a question about what to play the answer was "1/4 note roots" 90% of the time.

    A weekend isn't much time to prepare...I would try to memorize the shape of the major and minor triads on the neck, so when you are "going over chords" you can show that you know a little something...I assume you know your fretboard pretty well...other than that practice reading your butt off this weekend....that's all I got.
  4. I just have to learn how to read this, correct? This is what I was doing for a little bit a few months back, but I gave up on it for a while.


    If that's what I have to learn, then I better hop to it. Will learning scales help me? I know the blues and major ones, and if I take a few minutes to refresh my memory I can remember the three minor scales, also. What else do I need? And by major triads, do you mean the first, third, and fifth of a major scale? Because that's simple.
  5. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Learn to read, and learn to read well. Reading is really the primary skill that you need to cultivate for a high school jazz band. If you're starting out from scratch, this will be painful, but just as a new reader SLOWLY sounds words out in english, a new music reader SLOWLY figures things out. Eventually you get to the point where you don't need to "sound things out" and just can sight read fluently like you can a page of written english. But it takes time, and a lot of effort, so don't get too discouraged too quickly.

    Here's a nice little generator for reading practice. Apparently Gary Willis got a Red Bull sponsorship, haha.

  6. E2daGGurl


    May 26, 2008
    You need to know standard music notation - but remember, just the bass clef! Start with your lowest string (E), learn that note and go up in a scale - that should be impressive enough for most high school jazz bands.

    Use that generator that HaVIC just gave ya, too - there are other widgets online like that, spend a few hours on it before Monday!
  7. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Yeah that is what you have to learn, in addition to the rhythmic notation part of it and all the strange symbols like Codas and repeats, ext.

    Some tips that helped me:

    The dots on the clef go around the F (and it rhymes)
    the spaces from the lowest are A-C-E-G (ace is easy to remember)
    High C is one line above the clef

    if you memorize those the rest will start to fill in as you do it.
  8. Well, I had a really long and sad story to post, but I'll shorten it up as much as possible.

    I didn't do too hot on the audition. I completely blanked out on reading and he showed me some pretty simple stuff that I was reading pretty well on just an hour before but doing horrible on during the audition. I think it has something to do with the fact that he was paying so much attention to me. I think in an actual band there isn't so much pressure and spot light on the bassist and I'd be a lot more calm.

    I did great on all the chord related stuff, though. He covered up the sheet music and asked me "Alright, if I got rid of all these notes and just showed you the chord names, could you make those chords for me?" I made about 4 or 5 chords before he asked me to stop and praised me. Later on he asked me what chords would be made on certain degrees of the C major scale, and I did that perfect, too. I think he might have been impressed by that, which made me feel a lot better.

    Now here is the real kick in the balls: I completely forgot how to do a 12 bar blues pattern. I knew how to switch the chords and everything but I couldn't for the life of me remember which notes went where. If I were him, I would have probably stopped the audition right there. I couldn't believe myself.

    He told me that if I was willing to work hard and practice my reading a lot then I was in. I still don't feel like I deserve to be in, I'm sure if someone else was auditioning they would have got the spot instead of me. I suppose I'll only improve, though. Thanks for all your help guys. Also, sorry this wasn't as short as I'd hoped.
  9. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    Looks like your audition just gave you your practice schedule. Now you know what you need to learn so you can play in jazz band.

    The director's job is not to keep people out of band, it's to help people get into band. You just need to get some basics under your fingers so that you won't fall too far behind in rehearsal which isn't fair to the rest of the band.

    Find a local teacher and take some lessons with him. Tell him exactly what you bricked in your audition and what your goal is. Maybe this same band director can do that with you.
  10. I actually had that bookmarked, but I was using the Gary Willis thing posted in this topic earlier instead. I got bass clef wizard on my second try with an average of 1.36 seconds for each answer. I guess I'll just have to keep grinding it in until I finally get it.
  11. That's right. Hopefully you can get yourself into the band and start having music to read on a regular basis. Few activities improve your ability to read better than working with an ensemble.

    But even if you don't get into the jazz band, you should see if there are other music-reading ensembles you could get in on. Self-study is great and necessary, but being able to practice with a group and a teacher = priceless.

    Also learning to read music for and play piano is probably one of the best things any musician can do for themselves with regard to being able to read music well. Why limit yourself to one clef?
  12. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ

    You'll do fine, reading takes a little time to get down, pressure can be intense, with a full band its not as bad, plus if your school band is anything like mine was, you'll be playing each of these songs 50 times though and by the 10th you'll have it cold while the band director has the horns go over their parts again, and again, and again.

    When I started with the school bands I had a lot less knowledge than you...I'm not sure I knew what a chord was and I could barely read. 2 years later playing in the 3 school bands and the pit band, I could read pretty whatever was put in my face, aside from a few of the crazier fills from the musical (grease).
  13. Cernael


    Jun 28, 2008
    If that's the key, go for organ.

    3 clefs!
  14. Now that's just crazy talk! LOL

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.