Students Arrange Music for Band Show
This fall the 90-member Kiltie Marching Band at Alma College is
performing hits by jazz legends Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays in a halftime
show arranged by two students.
Director David Zerbe approached Grosse Ile senior Justin Rito and Alma alumnus Jake Finkbeiner and asked them to arrange the music for this year’s show. Both students had previously arranged for the band.
“It’s a great educational experience for them,” Zerbe says. “A lot of our students teach at band camps and arrange for different high schools. When they do get a band-directing job, they have been exposed to a lot of band directors and different styles of teaching.
“However, for Jake and Justin their experience is deeper because the level of their arrangement is as good as anything that is published professionally,” says Zerbe. “It makes them that much more marketable.”
Kiltie Marching Band horn section
picked the overall show theme, and then met with Rito and Finkbeiner to
decide which songs would be best arranged for a marching band. Rito
arranged the wind music, and Finkbeiner arranged the percussion music.
The pair started work on the arrangement in May and finished at the end of June. Though Zerbe was on hand to help, the pair did a majority of the work on their own.
“Mr. Zerbe put a lot of trust into us for this, and hopefully we met his expectations,” Finkbeiner says. “So far, the response from everyone has been really great.”
“The biggest challenge for me was to take a semi-traditional jazz ensemble and create a marching band score from it that wasn't too corny,” Rito says. “It isn't often that you see a marching band playing in 11/4.”
The drill for the show has 73 transitions; many high school and college shows range from 20 to 50 transitions.
“The band is totally into the show, and it’s extremely challenging,” Zerbe says. “They’re highly motivated and energetic.”
A music education major, Rito hopes to earn his master’s degree in music and either conduct or compose. A graduate of Grosse Ile High School, he is the son of William and Kathleen Rito.
“The fact that I have had the opportunity to work with my arrangement this much and learn from my mistakes is one of the more hands on and effective learning experiences I've had at Alma,” Rito says.
Finkbeiner graduated in 2007 with a music education major. He is pursuing his master’s degree in music performance at Michigan State University.
“I don't think many schools have two students completely design the music for a marching show,” Finkbeiner says. “This experience has really enhanced my education by allowing me to apply everything that I've learned since I've been at Alma.”
The band performs the show at all the Alma College home football games — the last home game is Nov. 3 — and at the annual Kiltie Marching Band indoor show at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.
Posted: Mon, October 29th, 2007 at 2:42PM