Autumn term 2014 – A quick peek ahead

Hi all,

Given that we’ve got a slightly extended break coming, I thought I’d set the scene for next term.

Firstly, we return to Whitestrand for rehearsals on Monday 22nd September, ready to play at 7pm.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll post some of the new tunes we played through last Monday (plus possibly some that you haven’t seen yet), to help you get up to speed ready for our first rehearsal !   Over the course of the term, we’ll feature a mixture of new tunes, pieces from our Patrick repertoire, and some golden oldies which I think will suit the band in its current format.

Our next concert was intended to be at Ramsey Methodist Church on 4th October, but the organiser couldn’t reach the choir which was due to join us, so seeing the  warning signs we’ve mutually postponed, allowing us to get together with the choir then set a date which would work for all.

This means that our next concert will actually be at Glen Maye on Friday 21 November.   This gives us 9 weeks to brush up on our repertoire, add a new tune or three, and even put some ‘seasonal fare’ in the mix.

Have a great break, enjoy your hols, and please keep playing your saxes even when we’re not actively rehearsing … it’ll save you from being rusty when we get back !

See you in September (I’m sure there’s a song of that name).


Patrick Church Concert – The Review

Hi all,

Well – what a turnaround !

A few weeks out from the concert, I was definitely a little worried.  We hadn’t had the chance to get the whole group together as often as I’d wanted on the run up to the night, and I’ll admit I was a trifle anxious as we all seemed a bit lacking in confidence.

On the night however, we definitely scored a home run.  Everyone concentrated marvellously and the results were stunning.   Not only did each piece start and finish confidently, but we put in some really musical and expressive ensemble playing.  A few tunes into the first set, I was relaxed enough to listen in to the sound in general rather than concentrate solely on my part, and what I heard was, in places, the best playing I’ve heard from the group in years !

We were a big hit too with the audience who were all effusive in their comments afterwards – one even asking if we had a CD recorded because he wanted to buy a memento !  Dunders was really impressed with the improvements we’ve made recently, and Ben’s prospective in-laws were well impressed.

The church also looked after us in grand style, and I’ll write today to Graham and the crew to thank them for their efforts in making the night such a success.   We also benefitted from half of the ticket sales as agreed, which means that I was able to pay £100 into our campaign funds.  I’d like to make our visits to Patrick an annual event – and this time of year feels about right.   With a little extra push from both sides to sell tickets in advance , I’m sure we could boost audience attendance a bit which would help all sides.

So, well done all – a great way to finish off the summer term.

On Monday, we’ll meet at 7pm for a quick run through a few selected pieces in advance of next term – but the session will be light, and then we’ll retire to the Barbie for some burnt offerings.

See you at Whitestrand – Jem

Patrick Concert – Running order change (not a biggie !)

Hi all,

Following a quick review with Ben, I think we’re ok generally on our playlist for Patrick, but to give us every advantage I’d like to accent the easier tunes in the first set, which will help settle the band down a bit.

Looking at the song list, this only requires a small change, to give us a first set that will be angst-free and that I’m sure we’ll really enjoy.

With a successful first half behind us, we can blast through the second set with confidence too !

Can you please amend the running list in your folders, swapping Summertime (which was in the first half) with St. James Infirmary Blues … so that we play St. James in the first half, and Summertime in the second.

“I will follow him” comes as the second tune after the break, which is just about ideal.

… and as a final minor change, I’d like to play “Londonderry Air” followed by “Amazing Grace” on the night.

The full, if slightly amended, running order is listed below.

Dress Code (which I forgot to mention before) – is white tops, black lowers.  Gents can wear their waistcoats if they have them.

See you on Friday ready to play at 7 through Summertime and I will follow …

Cheers all, Jem

I Got Rhythm


Just another lazy day

Wade in the Water

Groovy Kind of Love

St. James Infirmary Blues

Hit the Road Jack

Comedy for Saxophones

Arabian Nights


Our Prayer


Frim Fram Sauce

I will follow him

Londonderry Air

Amazing Grace


Little Brown Jug

Shmooky and Mo

Jamaica Farewell



Patrick Concert – Friday 18th July

Hi all,

First off – thanks for your efforts in last night’s rehearsal.  It was quite intense as we played through some tunes that we haven’t been able to play through recently, so there was some re-familiarisation going on 🙂

Each of us knows our own personal weak points in the repertoire, so please make the time to brush up on anything you feel can be improved / made more solid for Friday.  I believe that the key to our running a successful concert lies in our being confident, so that we can enjoy playing rather than be on guard.

That being the case, we agreed to meet up at the church on Friday at 7pm to run through 2 tunes, just to make sure they’re secure ….

-“Summertime” and “I will follow him”

I’ll make sure the church is open and stands set up in readiness.  We can spend 10-15 minutes on the two tunes, then relax a bit before the concert starts at 8pm.

@Matt – Can you please let me know if you can make the brief practice session at 7pm – thanks.

Cheers all – see you on Friday.


End of Term Bash / Barbie ! – Monday 21st July

Hi all,

To round off the term, I thought we’d have a fun and relaxed evening at Whitestrand **

I’ve a few new tunes to pass by you and we’ll give them a quick run through.  We’ll play the first hour-ish from 7pm.

There’s nothing too challenging here, and in particular there’s a fun tune to be played with a backing track (I’ve been promising this for ages!).

Once we’re done, we’ll fire up the Barbie and cremate some pork-based products etc.   We’ll supply burgers, sausages and the like, some salad and soft drinks as everyone’s driving.  Susie’s kindly offered to provide a pudding.  If you have any specific tastes (Amazonian sea-bass for instance), feel free to provide some additional bits, but we’ve got the basics covered.

@ Jackie and Andrea – I’ll drop you a separate note, but it would be great if you could make this too, either to join in with the new / trial stuff or just to come and say Hi and have a bite to eat.

So far, everyone who was around at Monday’s rehearsal is coming except for Kyra who is off to Cuba.  I’d offer to save her a burger but it may not be too attractive in a couple of weeks.

@ Matt and Michael, can you please let me know if you’re able to come – thanks.

Cheers Jem

** – Much more relaxed than the last few weeks at any rate 🙂

Final Rehearsal for Patrick Concert – Monday 14th July

Hi all,

For various reasons, last night’s rehearsal wasn’t our best.  Specifically, there were very few tunes that we could play through from start to finish without having to stop and correct issues.  Additionally, whereas I’d planned that we would run through the whole Patrick playlist from start to end, this had to be abandoned as we didn’t have enough players to cover the parts on some tunes.

We need to feel confident in playing our tunes straight off the start line, so … this puts a great deal of emphasis on Monday’s final rehearsal – which will be held at the Trinity Church in Patrick – starting promptly at 7pm … and we need a full team !


The issues we had in last night’s rehearsal are not new to us, and they’re fairly easy to fix with a little background prep.

1   Volume

Our accompaniment level is generally too loud, and yet from time to time those who are leading play too quietly.

The fix for this is obvious.  Make sure that you know where you are leading, and maybe mark your parts accordingly.

Everywhere else, please err on the side of caution, playing accompanying parts (esp. long notes / chords) sensitively so as to support the lead.

You can only really achieve this effectively if you are actively listening to the lead as you play !

Finally, where you have interesting phrases, particularly where these join sections of the tune, bring them out confidently.

2   Uncertainty / fluffed notes

The general fix for this is also pretty clear – if you have phrases that you can’t pay confidently (either the notes or timing), you need to practice them until they’re right.  Where timing is the issue, MIDI files can help greatly – just play along with the tune until you’re sure you’re in the right place.

If you’ve practiced extensively but simply can’t get a phrase or section right, let me know before the final rehearsal.  I can make adjustments to cover key phrases, but only if I know ahead of time.

3   Pre-Play Preparation / Concentration

On quite a few occasions last night, we had some duff notes at the beginning of pieces as folk were still playing in the key of the last piece.

Please make a point of quickly reviewing key statistics before you play any piece – key, time signature, repeats – to avoid any confusion as we play.

4   Communication

At various points we started to drift in terms of tempo, or worse simply started at a pace that was different from my count-in.   This will always happen to a certain extent, but it can be corrected if we use our communication skills as we play.

The first is to make sure that you can see me whilst you play, so that I can connect with you and make adjustments to volume, tempo etc.

The second is to listen actively, as I often try to adjust our tempo by playing at the correct speed and emphasising my notes.

… and the key to communication is of course to free up your concentration by being totally familiar with the music 🙂


If you’re at all unsure over any part of our playlist and need my help, just ask.  I’m happy to make the time to meet up with you to help you feel confident on the night.

See you on Monday,

Cheers Jem













With all of us present (except Matt), we’ll run through the tunes in order.

Rehearsal Wednesday 09-07-2014

Hi all,

Just a quick note to remind you that we have a full pre-concert rehearsal tomorrow (Wednesday) at Whitestrand.

We’ll kick off at the usual time.  I’d appreciate it if all could do their best to arrive ready to start at 6:45pm, as we’ve a lot of ground to cover.

The playlist has not changed since I sent it out via a blog last week, so please make sure your folders are in playlist order as this helps us greatly to make the best use of the time available.

See you tomorrow !

Cheers Jem



Just another Lazy Day – Important bit of prep. needed

Hi all,

When we ran through this tune on Monday, we all had a little difficulty fitting in some of the ‘off beat stab rhythms’ that appear in the accompanying parts in e.g. bars 25-28 – Where Susie as Alto 2 was playing the lead.  It de-stabilises the tune, so we need to put it right.

I had thought of re-writing the music to make the piece easier to play … and then I instead took a detailed look at the score and listened to the midi file alongside it.

In earlier bars (first 3 bars of section A), I play the lead as Alto 1.  The tune at this point is ‘on the beat’ so everyone fitted in their stab notes easy.  The stab notes appear, matching the high note of each phrase in these bars.

In the later version, whilst things look quite complicated when viewed on individual accompaniment parts, actually they’re not.

The accompaniment parts fit as before on the high note of each phrase.  However, as the lead part (A2) is ‘off-beat’ then the stab notes need to move with it.  This can easily be achieved by listening to the tune – and the midi / mp3 versions of the website are the ideal place to get the correct view.

When we get together on Monday, we’ll spend a little time resolving this.

However, you now need to do a little homework first to ensure we’re on the right track.  It shouldn’t take more than say 20 minutes, so please …

If you play Alto 2, make sure that you can place the tune really confidently and in time according to the music, as the accompanists will be reacting to your lead in Section C.

If you play accompaniment (all other parts), then make sure you know where your stab notes fit against the tune as shown by the midi / Mp3s

The minimum is to listen through to the tune with the score on screen – even better is if you can spend a little time afterwards playing through the tune with the midi file as accompaniment.

Thanks – see you on Wednesday 9th at Whitestrand !  Please be on time as we have a packed rehearsal session.

Cheers Jem