Piece for High School Band - Tribute to a Mentor

Early last year I found out that my old high school band director had died. It struck me rather hard at the time. He was a wonderful and passionate man and always loved by his students. I still remember one time he caught me having not practiced or learned my part. I asked him to just give me one playthrough and I’d have it. My ear and memory had always gotten me out of having to practice much. He chewed me out about it but I could tell he was amused.

Something about his death reignited my own passion for writing music and that’s when I really got back into it. Life is short and it’s a shame that others have to die for some of us to realize it, but there it is.

Anyway, ever since, I’ve had this idea rattling around in my brain, that I’d like to write something for him. A tribute to him being a great teacher, mentor, and friend. A couple months ago I set about doing it. At the same time I reached out to the current band director at my old school and told him about my project. And I floated the idea of having the school band debut this piece at one of their concerts. To my pleasure he was enthusiastic about the idea.

So… here is the piece I wrote. It doesn’t have a title yet. I’m not sure if the mix is final, though the mix doesn’t really matter much since the end result is going to be a live performance. I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts about the composition. It’s my first time writing for a winds band, so I’m hoping I didn’t make any really silly mistakes.

It’s written with a high school band in mind. So, flutes, clarinets, maybe piccolo; alto, tenor, and bari sax; trumpets 1&2, trombones 1&2, baritone, and tuba; snare, bass drum(s), xylophone & vibraphone & glock (hopefully), and cymbals.

Please excuse the sub-par saxophone samples. It’s all I’ve got for saxes at the moment. If I do more band pieces down the road I’ll have to invest in better ones.

Genre/Style: First part is a slow, somber, melodic theme, doing callbacks to “Taps” but with rich harmony. Second part is a lively 6/8 march that is vaguely Celtic.

Composition Details (Tempo, Key, Main Chords etc): It’s in Eb (good key for HS bands). Starts out a slow 60bpm but the main section is about 110bpm.

Main Instruments used:
Mix of BBCSO and Hollywood Orchestra for the brass and percussion.
BBCSO for all woodwinds.
Mix of EastWest & something from Kontakt for saxophones.


Nice work! Very playable for high school level musicians, good melody, harmony. Great!
My only thoughts are (and these are just personal taste, nothing else)- at the very end of the first part- I’m not sure that my ear wants to hear that return to the Bb; or, it wants the Bb to crescendo into the pickup Bb that starts the 6/8 sectiion. And at the very end- I think I’d rather hear cymbal and bass drum hit with the G and the F, rather than the 1/8th note after. Just my own ear preferences; nothing wrong with what you have.
Again- very nice composition. And I like your mix, too.

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Well done Mike. I think it fits as a tribute well; reminiscent but also celebratory. I’d love to hear the actual performance!

I see you used the vibes for this.:grin:

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Yes, the vibes are fun. I heard back from the band director with the breakdown of sections. They don’t have a piccolo or glock so I’m dropping the glock and reworking the flute part to add in some of the piccolo part. They were mostly the same anyway. They do have a french horn, so I’m doubling the baritone with some alterations. I’m writing a tenor drum part because they have that. And they have an electric bass player, so I need to write a bass part. But that shouldn’t be too hard.

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