By Martin J. Wimmer
March of the Shadows is a Grade 1 ½ work for second-year elementary band. As a veteran elementary band director, I am keenly aware of what students are able to accomplish at this level. March of the Shadows is a fun, slightly challenging, and completely achievable work. It is a work that would be useful at the beginning of the school year when it feels too summery to begin holiday music. March of the Shadows would be perfect for a Halloween or Autumn Concert.
March of the Shadows begins with a whistle! It “calls” the show by “announcing” each new section of the piece. (A study of form.) It even reacts to a momentary modulation. The whistle part has all sorts of fun staging potential, including having it played by the director! The initial whistle is followed by a percussion introduction which sets the beat. Seven percussion parts, three of them optional, have been included so that everyone in a large percussion section will be kept engaged and out of trouble! The body of the work includes two alternating themes, one dark and shadowy in minor, the other bright, heroic and slightly syncopated in major. Every part gets the melody at some point, even the low brass and woodwinds! Ranges are all standard for early second-year band players, i.e. clarinets do not go over the break, trumpets do not go higher than middle line B, the snare drum part is sprinkled with basic rudiments such as flams and paradiddles. Even the horn gets a crack at the tune! Every part is fun, interesting and educational.
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