Coming Together to Make a Joyful Noise
The EUUC Joyful Noise is a no-audition community band that plays together at EUUC on Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:15 p.m. Anyone who is willing to put up with the rest of the Joyful Noise players in a spirit of kindness is welcome to join us. We have had players join when they could only play a single note on their instrument and others with many years of experience.
Generally, we try to balance self-determination with a sensitivity of playing with other people. Our playing is like a party with many people talking at once—much like the congregation getting together to put away all of the chairs in Chapman Hall. There is some leadership, but if a player wants to play differently, that’s OK, as long as they are not overwhelming everyone else. In general, the more unpleasant your playing, the quieter we hope you will play. On the other hand, we want to hear the music you create.
Some players only read music. For them, Nick Maxwell prints out music. Others would like music, but also want to make up solos. Others don’t read music and only want to know the key or maybe the chords. All ways of playing music together work in the Joyful Noise.
We cherish improvisation. Even those who only read music have to decide for themselves which music to play. (Nick provides two to four options for every song.) We are glad when membership gets shaken up by folks going on vacations or appearing after long breaks away. We also love playing with whatever collection of instruments show up. We have room for two bass players, three tuba players, and bagpipes.
The music that the Joyful Noise plays would be called Jazz, if only the Joyful Noise produced it at the polished level of a high school Jazz band—but we don’t. It would be called folk music if we didn’t play Jazz Standards and complicated chords, and if we practiced our instruments like David Grisman. Probably no one but Gunther Schuller would even consider calling it Classical music, even though there are some tunes from classical composers that we play. Some Jazz musicians might think we play pop music, because we play some pop tunes. Probably any musician would agree that, whatever we play, it isn’t what they play.
Singing has appeared in the Joyful Noise. We don’t do singer-and-a-band kind of music, and we’re not a choir or chorus, so I don’t understand what’s happening there, but it’s probably only an illusion that I understand much of anything happening in the Joyful Noise.
There are a few guiding principles of the Joyful Noise.
- Kindness is more important than practicing.
- Playing boring music well is boring.
- You need to be quiet while other people are tuning.
- If you play regularly, you make more beautiful music.
- Joy is happier than competence.
- Joyful noise is more fun than music.
- And, most importantly: More good things happen than you could reasonably expect.
Each player is asked to participate in what way works best for them. Some play every week, others every other week. Some play on Thursdays, but never on Sundays. Some appear on Sundays, after never playing on Thursdays. Some only receive the Joyful Noise emails, and never play with the Joyful Noise at all, except in spirit. All self-determination is valued.
The Joyful Noise plays for the 9:15 and 11:00 a.m. service one day a month. We also have played for birthday parties, fund raisers, and memorial services. Whenever we play, we only commit to having at least one of us show up, and we improvise with whoever appears.