Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 9, Grade 3 Music for Wind Band

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web.

It’s the middle of August and that usually means teachers and students are heading back to school in many places around the world. And with the excitement of the new school year comes the anticipation of new music to program! Whether you are a director or a student in a high school/middle school, college, or community symphonic band or wind ensemble, we encourage you to look at some of David Maslanka’s music that is a little more accessible to younger groups or perhaps ensembles with limited rehearsal time or limited instrumentation. And so this week we feature fantastic performances of three of David’s most cherished Grade 3 wind ensemble works.


Illumination is an energetic and joyous piece, written at a roughly 3+ grade level. Instrumentation is complete, but certain parts, such as oboe, bassoon, and horn are not exposed. Maslanka says, “I have graded the parts so that first are more demanding, and seconds and thirds successively easier. ‘Illumination’ – light rising – coming to consciousness: performing music offers the possibility of immediate awakening, and this piece has both high good nature and a sharp wake-up quality.” Watch below as Ken Bagley leads The Plainville Wind Ensemble in a lively performance of this work.

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Heart Songs

Heart Songs was written in 1997 for the Harwood Junior High School Band. It is in three movements: I. “A Quiet Song,” II. “Song with Variations,” and III. “Heart Song.” Maslanka said, “The title Heart Songs comes from the image of watering the tree of life with the blood of the heart. It is my hope with this music to provide a substantial and deeply-felt piece for young players. The second and third songs are based on melodies from the 371 Chorales by J.S. Bach. Watch below as Craig Hamilton leads the Ouachita Baptist University Wind Ensemble in a beautiful performance of this music.

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Mother Earth

Mother Earth was composed for the South Dearborn High School Band of Aurora, Indiana, Brian Silvey, conductor. The commission was for a three-minute fanfare piece. According to Maslanka, “Each piece takes on a reason for being all its own, and Mother Earth is no exception. It became an urgent message from Our Mother to treat her more kindly! My reading at the time of writing this music was For a Future to be Possible by the Vietnamese monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. He believes that the only way forward is to be extremely alive and aware in our present moment, to become awake to the needs of our beloved planet, and to respond to it as a living entity. Music making allows us to come immediately awake. It is an instant connection to the powerful wellspring of our creativity, and opens our minds to the solution of any number of problems, including that of our damaged environment. My little piece does not solve the problem! But it is a living call to the wide-awake life, and it continues to be performed by young people around the world.” Watch below as J. Steven Moore leads the University of Miami Frost Symphonic Winds in an energetic performance of this piece.

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Are you a director of a high school/middle school, community, or university symphonic band or wind ensemble? We would LOVE to feature your special performances of David’s music on Maslanka Weekly. And as always, we would love to hear from you if you know of any outstanding performances of David Maslanka’s music on the web. Simply email us at

By |2018-12-31T19:43:43+00:0020 August 2018|Featured, Heart Songs, Illumination, Maslanka Weekly, Mother Earth|