The “Menuet” from Claude Debussy’s “Suite Bergamasque” is a favorite of pianists across the globe, but at no time do band students get the chance to play it, much less any of Debussy’s work for that matter. This orchestration provides challenges for both conductor and student, as the piece was not originally written with a band in mind. To succeed in performing this piece, students will learn to play as groups of keys on the piano rather than section-by-section. Instrumental boundaries wash away as students become colors and timbres, rather than instruments or sections. “Safety in numbers” is not a part of succeeding in this music. Individual exposure and confidence in one’s own part are what allows this piece to sing. Students will be exposed to varying colors they may not have been otherwise exposed to in some of the “all-out, everyone playing all the time” standard of much of modern band literature.
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