Not the bopping we are talking about...but it's some real good bopping!

Not the bopping we are talking about...but it's some real good bopping!

Bopping is one of those exercises that everyone hates, yet is seems to yield the best results in terms of cleaning music.  The purpose of bopping is to clean up the attacks of the ensemble to ensure that the entire group is attacking together.  This covers one of the two important parts of a group playing clean, the other being releases. 

How to Bop:

Bopping occurs at a pp volume level and is achieved by playing short staccato eighth notes where each note starts.  This technique can be utilized in sectionals, hornline rehearsals, and field rehearsals.  It also is a vital tool to use before entering the competition field to ensure that everyone's ears are open and an internal pulse exists.

How to Introduce Bopping:

  • Start with a major scale (B-flat major is a good one)
  • Have the hornline play to a click (either Dr. Beat, woodblock, clapping, etc.) at a moderate tempo (q=110)
  • The group plays whole notes ascending and descending the scale tounging each note at a mf volume.  
  • Now have the group play the same scale at the same bpm but now have them play staccato eigth notes at a pp volume at what would be the beginning of the whole note (beat 1 of a 4/4 bar)
  • Tell the hornline that the goal is for everyone to attack together and they need to listen.  It will become obvious who is not attacking properly on the beat.  

Other Ways to Use Bopping

  • Before a contest, run parts of the show with bopping to open the ears
  • Have the drum major conduct without the taps and have the hornline bop
  • Run segments of the show on the field with the drill and bop the musi
  • While in and arc or circle, count the group off and have them bp without any audible or visual tempo.  This is useful to help the group internalize the beat
  • Juxtapose scales between playing long notes and boppin

Bopping is not much fun, until your group does it well, but it is a valuable tool to clean up the music your group is performing.  Make it a habit within the group's rehearsal times and you will see the difference.  Since the technique is slightly advanced it will take your group time to get good at bopping, however the learning curve of getting good at bopping seems to coincide with the music getting progressively cleaner.