BMI Jazz Composers Workshop Reading Session Guidelines

The monthly reading sessions utilize the services of the BMI/NY Jazz Orchestra, the workshop’s 17-piece big band. Reading sessions usually take place on the final Tuesday of each month in the rehearsal studio at Local 802, Associated Musicians of Greater New York (322 W. 48th Street). There are usually 10 to 12 people with music to be heard at each session.

  • Only newly written music will be read. We don’t have the time to play material that’s already been played by another band.
  • Fragments of things you want to check out are encouraged. For example, let’s say that you’re not clear about how certain mute combinations work. You could get some vague verbal description from Andy or Ted (or someone else). But the reading session affords you the opportunity to bring in, for instance, 16 bars scored 5 different ways with 5 different mute groups.
  • The workshop stresses original material; please, no arrangements of standards (they certainly have their place and value, but we’re trying to develop original composition).
  • Minimize the solo space in the material you bring to the reading (solos, of course, form an integral part of jazz composition, but we’re trying to maximize the time available to hearing written material played).
  • Make sure that the manuscript is clear and legible in both parts and scores. Make sure that the score is big enough to be read by the conductor.
  • Make sure that the parts and score correspond vis á vis rehearsal numbers, repeats, etc.
  • Don’t stand in front of the band explaining your piece; let the manuscript do the talking.
  • All music will be conducted by the musical directors. No exceptions.
  • Don’t try to conduct the band over the director’s shoulder. Both of our experiences have taught us that you get the most from a first reading of a piece if you sit with a copy of the score and a pencil, making notes as the piece is played. Pay attention to things like voicings, instrumental combinations, mutes, balance, rhythmic figures, and rhythm section parts. If you’re busy conducting, your attention isn’t focused on all of these details; moreover, it’s impossible to conduct and take notes at the same time!
  • A second run-through will be given only to material which has significant problems in the first run-through, to the extent that time permits.

Reading Priorities

Material will be “prioritized” in the following order:

  1. Completely new material
  2. Revised or added sections of a previously read piece
  3. A complete piece that is substantially (at least 50%) new or revised
  4. Material with less than 50% new content

BMI/NY Jazz Orchestra Instrumentation:

Alto I (soprano, flute)
Alto II (flute, clarinet)
Tenor I (flute, clarinet)
Tenor II (flute, clarinet)
Baritone (bass clarinet)

Four Trumpets (all double Flügelhorn)
mutes: straight, cup, Harmon, plunger, bucket

Three Trombones
mutes: straight, cup, plunger, bucket

Bass Trombone (tuba*)

Rhythm Section:

*Available by “Special Order” at least two weeks in advance—contact the orchestra.

You are welcome to use any other instruments in addition to the basic band, but it Is up to the individual composer to contract the player(s).