It was a great pleasure for the Solent Fellowship Band (Bandmaster John Bird) to spend an evening in rehearsal with Dr. Stephen Cobb, Bandmaster of the International Staff Band and Territorial Director of the Salvation Army’s Music Ministries Department.
The Fellowship Band was quickly at ease with Dr. Cobb, and he was seemingly equally comfortable with the band as he worked through Leslie Condon’s Celebration and Peace of Heart, Sweet Hour of Prayer (Erik Leidzén) and Constant Trust (Eric Ball). All the while he was teaching, encouraging, cajoling and demanding, bringing thought-provoking insights into the music. This was followed by a top-to-bottom sight reading of Stand Up for Jesus (Noel Jones) and The Peace of the Lord (Terry Camsey).
Dr. Cobb opened new and intellectually challenging perspectives into the music. He discuss the concepts of “transferability” of musical technique, warming a phrase and breathing into an entry. He was also forthright in declaring that the utilization of a particular musical technique was wrong.
He emphasized the need to seek a deeper insight into the music to enhance its presentation to audiences not always versed in Salvation Army ethos and tradition and the need to use bands effectively and musically in order to maintain audience interest and appreciation.
The evening was enriched by Cobb’s fascinating and affectionate personal anecdotes about the composers of the music and by a thoughtful and sensible “homily” where he discussed the difference for good that individuals can make, giving as examples a retired bandmaster who has raised AUS$100,000 for a school in an African country and a 91-year-old bandmaster in Cornwall who is still teaching youngsters to play and driving some distance four times each Sunday to keep a small band alive.
During the remarkable evening, Dr. Cobb opened for the Fellowship Band as a whole and for its individual members a greater awareness of the possibilities still inherent in Salvation Army banding. He awakened everyone to the potential for immense benefits that flows from individuals setting out to make a difference for good in the lives of others.
Solent Fellowship Band web site