As Winds Dance

Samuel R. Hazo
Boosey & Hawkes, 2003


The composer, Samuel R. Hazo, notes that he can still hear his college sight-singing professor, Dr. Louis Munkachy, telling him, in his thick Hungarian accent, “Repetition is the mother of knowledge.”  For every bit of truth this statement holds, it is equally true that repetition is that natural enemy to the eleven to thirteen year-old.  Their motto more resembles:  I did it great once; therefore, greatness must flow from me.  So in trying to compose a piece that painlessly introduced middle level students to syncopation, Hazo knew that repetition had to be present, but disguised so as not to look like something instructive.  Moreover, the students would need to perceive (on their own) that the musical needs of the piece dictated how many times a syncopated rhythm would recur.  I believe that balance exists in As Winds Dance. 

The composition opens with light brushes on the snare drum playing the repetitive 3/4 syncopated rhythm “Ta Ta Get Me Out Of Here”.  The entire band joins in this unison syncopated figure with a light lyrical melody being played above it, until a more chorale-like section appears at measure 25.  The rest of the piece is basically passing the syncopated figure and the chorale figure back and forth.

Performance Notes

As Winds Dance (2003) was commissioned or the McKnight & Peebles School Bands, directed by Stephen J. Krause, in the Allegheny School District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Musical Challenges

As the composer notes, this composition is designed to teach syncopation.  Therein is the biggest musical challenge for the young ensemble.  The syncopated figure repeats quite often, which could be a good or bad thing!  If the students are able to play the figure, the performance should be relatively easy.  If not, the performance won’t be successful.

Hazo also does a masterful job of juxtaposing the lyrical dotted half-note melody against the syncopated ostinato.  Students can explore lyrical phrasing and expressive playing while also learning about syncopation.  This is a great opportunity to teach students about contrast and texture as they’re learning a piece they’re sure to enjoy.

Finally, within the syncopated section there are very specific articulation markings.  If students execute the articulations as written, the syncopation will come easily.  This will also lend a more “3-dimensional” feel to the work and allow it to sound more advanced than it actually is.

This piece is a solid Grade 2, with many teaching opportunities!

About the Composer

Samuel R. Hazo (b. 1966) resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife and children. In 2003, Mr. Hazo became the first composer in history to be awarded the winner of both composition contests sponsored by the National Band Association. He has composed for the professional, university and public school levels in addition to writing original scores for television, radio and the stage. His original symphonic compositions include performances with actors Brooke Shields, James Earl Jones, David Conrad and Richard Kiley. He has also written symphonic arrangements for three-time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams. Mr. Hazo’s compositions have been performed and recorded world-wide, including performances by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra (national tour), the Birmingham Symphonic Winds (UK) and the Klavier Wind Project’s recordings with Eugene Migliaro Corporon. Additionally, his music is included in the series "Teaching Music Through Performance in Band." Mr. Hazo's works have been premiered and performed at the Music Educators’ National Conference, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles Convention, National Honor Band of America, National Band Association/TBA Convention, College Band Directors’ National Association Convention and also aired in full-length programs on National Public Radio. He has served as composer-in-residence at Craig Kirchhoff’s University of Minnesota Conducting Symposium and has also lectured on music and music education at universities and high schools internationally. In 2004, Mr. Hazo's compositions were listed in a published national survey of the "Top Twenty Compositions of All Time" for wind band. 

Mr. Hazo has been a music teacher at every educational grade level from kindergarten through college, including tenure as a high school and university director. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Duquesne University where he served on the Board of Governors and was awarded as Duquesne’s Outstanding Graduate in Music Education. Mr. Hazo serves as a guest conductor and is a clinician for Hal Leonard Corporation. Recordings of his compositions appear on Klavier Records and Mark Records.