Band practice with Baldwin

Benjamin Boersma—Staff Writer 

Every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at around 4:45, the music building gets a little louder. A couple of woodwind players, usually clarinets or flutes, are among the first to arrive. A few saxophones and low reed players are next, followed by a stray brass player. The whiteboard at the front of the room reads, “Welcome to another fun day of Concert Band. Get ready to WHALE!” 

At 4:50, most of the remaining band members arrive and start warming up. A scale from the trumpet section briefly cuts through while parts of concert music can be heard from other sections. One of the percussionists can be seen leaning over the timpani—a set of large round drums—trying to tune each drum amid the dissonance all around. 

At 5 p.m., the conductor gently waves for silence. The band warms up together to a scale, followed by tuning. The lead tuba player starts. One by one, the other band members join in. 

Welcome to the Dordt College Concert Band. The man directing them is composer, conductor and professor Daniel Baldwin. He will be leading the band until the end of the semester. 

Around a quarter after five, after tuning and some announcements about upcoming events, the band pulls out their first piece: a musical interpretation of Melville’s Moby Dick. 

“Play your accented notes like you’re bouncing a tennis ball,” Baldwin tells the band before leading them into an aggressive melody in the low brass. They play relatively uninterrupted until about midway through the movement. Baldwin stops the band to talk to each section about what to expect next. He then turns to the percussionists. 

“Are you ready to play as big as the band?” he asks them. 

Senior and lead percussionist Marcus Zevenbergen answers for all of them. “That’s usually not a challenge.” 

Everyone laughs. 

They play through the rest of the movement, paying special attention to the ending before going on to the next movement. 

Baldwin addresses the flute section. “Make this opening the most beautiful chord I’ve heard in my life,” he says. 

It then becomes clear he’s being sarcastic. The chord was designed to clash. 

Further in, a line calls for sleigh bells. Baldwin stops the band and asks for more from the sleigh bells. Josh Dykstra, one of the percussionists, gives the bells a good shake. 

“More,” Baldwin tells him. 

Dykstra shakes the bells harder. 

“More,” Baldwin tells him. 

Dykstra puts his other hand on the instrument and shakes it harder still. Baldwin starts the band a few measures before. The sleigh bells can now be heard over the rest of the band. 

At five minutes past six, rehearsal ends. The band members scatter to put their instruments away. Ten minutes later, the music building is mostly quiet again. It will be a few days until Captain Ahab and the white whale return to haunt the band with their climatic battle. 

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