In yesterday’s post, I shared examples of 4-Way’s students learning to play together in small groups, the musical version of a conversation. Music imitates speech in many ways, but today I want to share an example of a conversation only possible with music. This example reminds us of our civic duty too, and it seems like an especially good time to share it.

We’ve all been in meetings or discussions where people talk over each other and no one is heard clearly. It seems like there’s more and more of that these days. In music, however, different voices can coexist beautifully, when everyone’s given room – a very American idea we need to keep in mind right now.

Here’s a great example, courtesy of my former employer, the U.S. Marine Band. It’s a big week for them, by the way – they have a bit televised gig tomorrow you may have heard about, and they’ll probably play this one at some point. It’s Semper Fidelis, the official march of the Marine Corps, by John Philip Sousa.

This section starts with drums, joined by tubas, trumpets, clarinets and finally the trombones – when they’re all going, it’s absolutely spectacular, and a nice bit of symbolism, too – believe me, if clarinetists and trombone players can work it out, anything’s possible.


Pretty great, right?

As a bonus, here’s another version of the same piece, played by my former colleague in the band, bass player Eric Sabo, all by himself. Besides showing impressive versatility, Eric makes two important points with his version – 1) he understands the personalities of the different instrument groups very well (watch his trombone player carefully); and 2) he has too much free time.

Whichever version you like better, this march should remind you of our national motto – E Pluribus Unum – from many, one. Let’s all try harder to keep that one in mind going forward – might come in handy.

Till next time,




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