The Field Band Foundation
(FBF) is a South African national nonprofit organization that has reached more
than 40,000 youth since its inception in 1997. Modeled initially on the
American-style marching band, the FBF’s performance style, choreography,
rehearsal techniques, and uniforms draw on local traditions and practices
resulting in a uniquely South African musical phenomenon.
As local musicking, FBF rehearsals support the locally defined values of discipline and empathy. The distinctions that FBF members and leaders make between local or global processes or qualities are discernible in the military associations and echoes of local cultural expressions manifested in rehearsal management techniques, uniforms, and choreography. The localizations of musical processes and products and the meanings and values to which these link contribute to the achievement to the FBF’s goals, which the organization aims to articulate in terms of local values.
This according to “Rehearsing values: Processes of
distinction in the Field Band Foundation of South Africa” by Laryssa
Whittaker, an essay included in The Routledge companion to the study of
local musicking (New York: Routledge, 2018, pp. 251–63).
Above and below, FBF groups in action.
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Helen May Butler’s career provides a welcome counternarrative to the men’s professional bands—such as John Philip Sousa’s—that were the rage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Butler had the professional and musical clout to attract the top female talent needed to form a first-rate professional ensemble. Her Ladies’ Military Band rose to prominence during a time when being a professional woman required sacrifice, in terms of both family life and customary female identity. Butler’s perseverance and tenacity in creating an accomplished ensemble of women in a male-dominated field is an important and inspirational addition to the history of both U.S. concert bands and the women’s movement of her time.
This according to “Helen May Butler and her Ladies’ Military Band: Being professional during the golden age of bands” by Brian D. Meyers, an essay included in Women’s bands in America: Performing music and gender (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, pp. 15–49).
Today is Butler’s 150th birthday! Below, an undated photograph of her Ladies’ Brass Band, which toured between 1901 and 1912 (click to enlarge).
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Since 1914 a Winter Carnival has been held in February in the picturesque resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to promote skiing and celebrate the season. Events include ski races, ski jumping, dogsled pulls, skijoring, and fireworks.
Every year since 1935, members of the band have donned red wool uniforms, fixed plastic mouthpieces to their instruments and lubricated them with no-freeze valve oil, attached shortened skis to their boots, and skied in formation as they played.
This according to “The Steamboat Springs High School Ski Band 1935–2005” by Daniel S. Isbell (Journal of historical research in music education XXVIII/1 [October 2006] pp. 21–37). Below, the band in performance.
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