ABOUT SILVER EDITIONS
“Silver Editions” are arrangements specifically crafted for today’s typical community bands. This means they are either arranged specifically for, or they have additional “Silver Edition” parts created for and in recognition of the fact that most community bands are not comprised totally of professional musicians.
WHY WE HAVE SILVER EDITIONS
Indeed, community bands are comprised of members of the local community, and in the majority of cases have a number of players who have careers outside music, but now enjoy being part of something larger than themselves, something that brings such joy to the other players and to the community.
Player Abilities Determine What Music You Can Play. “Typical” community bands can competently play Grade III music, they need to work a bit on Grade IV music to get it ready for a concert, they need to work quite a bit with Grade V music, sometimes struggling with the difficulty of it to make it concert-ready, and very rarely tackle Grade VI music, unless they have some truly excellent musicians to carry the band.
On the other hand, bands such as Sousa’s band, Goldman’s band, Bachman’s Million-Dollar band, or any of the military service bands are comprised entirely of professional musicians. These are people who get paid to play their instruments, and they are very good at it. Sousa, Goldman, and others who wrote for these bands often wrote instrumental parts that were a fun challenge to these professional musicians, but are beyond the technical abilities of many intermediate (community band) players.
Before Silver Editions, these players – the janitor drummer, the cardiologist alto sax player, the engineer trumpet player, the attorney clarinetist, the dental hygienist flute player, all these players would simply omit parts that were beyond their abilities, or play simply the first note in each measure or the first note on each beat. This is not the best solution, but it works. Sometimes.
SILVER EDITIONS – WHAT THEY ARE
Now, with Silver Editions, intermediate-level players have parts they can play.
Silver edition parts are simply the original parts, scrutinized for places where intermediate-level musicians might find them too difficult, then having those too-difficult passages rewritten so they fit in perfectly with the rest of the arrangement, but also such that intermediate-level musicians can play them without frustration.
Here’s an example.
In Sousa’s original version of Pathfinder of Panama, he wrote the upper woodwind parts to have some delightful “gingerbread” figures in the trio. Shown is the second clarinet part, but these figures are present in all the upper woodwind parts:
You can see how, especially beginning at measure 96, the music wouldn’t bother professional-caliber musicians, but it would present a challenge to, for example, older musicians who recently picked up their instrument after a long “intermission” since they played it in high school or college. Asking intermediate-ability musicians to play these parts is frustrating and demotivating, and causes them to have far less fun playing than they should.
In the Silver Edition version of this tune (available here), you can see how those same parts, rewritten for intermediate-level musicians, are much more playable. Compare measure 96 on to the music above:
This tune, Pathfinder of Panama, was the first Silver Edition we made available, and the reaction from the players in the Mississippi Community Symphonic Band was total delight from players who decided to play the SE parts.
CREATING SILVER EDITION PARTS
Generally, a community band can assume their lead players in multi-part/player sections, the flutes, clarinets, trumpets, horns, trombones, and sometimes tubas, will be the best players. This being the case, we often do not create Silver Edition parts for the firsts (first flute, first clarinet, first trumpets, etc.). We do create them for the lower sections. We have not yet encountered a work in which we needed to create Silver Edition parts for the firsts, but we won’t rule out the possibility we might need to do that someday.
The bottom line is we generally assume the players of the second and third (and fourth) parts in any section will be those players of lesser ability, and so we create Silver Edition parts for those sections where needed.
The best way to know when and how to create SE parts is to either be or know someone who is an intermediate-level player on each instrument, have them look at and play the parts in question, then mark the sections where they would have enough trouble that they might not be able to (or want to) work it up for a concert. Once those sections are identified, rewrite those sections to be within the ability of that player, and of course to fit in with the rest of the band’s parts.
Some works are created “Silver Edition-Ready” from scratch, as with the World War I commemoration volume (#XXI) of the American Frontier Suites, “The War To End All Wars.” This work is ready to go without any additional Silver Edition parts.
Other works, such as our arrangement of Sousa’s The Pathfinder of Panama, have Silver Edition parts in addition to original-arrangement parts, and players can decide for themselves which part they prefer to play.
THE WHOLE POINT OF SILVER EDITIONS
The whole point of having Silver Editions is to put the more difficult works within reach of intermediate musicians, especially when they are playing in a group with more advanced musicians.
Music is supposed to be FUN. Fun to play, fun to hear. It fulfills a deep need within each of us to create or experience something beautiful, but each person in a band, particularly a community band, will have different ability levels.
If you stay away from the more difficult works to accommodate your intermediate-level musicians, you will frustrate your advanced people. If you program the more difficult works, you will frustrate your intermediate musicians.
Silver Editions allow you to accommodate all the musicians in your band, to bring to all the joy and fulfillment of making beautiful music and bringing it (competently) to your audiences.
BONUS: WHY THEY ARE CALLED SILVER EDITIONS
Referring to the special parts described in this essay as Silver Editions is not merely a nod to the first word in Silver Clef Music Publishing – it is also a big smile and acknowledgment of all the older musicians worldwide who participate in community bands and other musical groups.
If you look at the musicians in community bands everywhere, you will note quite a number of them are over age 50. Most of these are people who have pursued some other career throughout their lives, but just can’t stay away from music. Many of these are people who played an instrument in high school or college, then put it down to pursue their careers. Others are people who “always wanted to play an instrument,” but never got to it until later in life. Whichever they are, we love these people and welcome them into the beautiful and fulfilling world of making music, and it is with a grateful tip of the hat to you that we have developed these Silver Edition parts to allow you to fully participate in making good music.