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swilliams

Looking for Advice on Which Bugle Calls to Use

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My son is our Troop's bugler, and has been asked to play at the upcoming Court of Honor.  Because our troop doesn't usually have a bugler, none of us is an expert on which calls are best played at which times.  Although my son has memorized the description of when calls are used (in preparation for his merit badge) some aren't so obvious when placed in a scouting application, rather than military. 

Our thinking, from internet searches and the description of calls, is that perhaps To the Color would work well, played before the Color Guard posts the flags.  If anyone could give additional insight or make other recommendations, it would be appreciated!

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Oh, there are  lots of opportunities here !  I hope the room (auditorium?)  is large enough to allow the full beauty of a well played bugle....

When folks are settling in to their seats,  play "First Call"  to gain their attention (SPL puts up the Sign).

As Bugleson may note, if he plays the Call to the Colors up to the Coda, that is the "Short Version", and would be appropriate for an indoor ceremony.  I would suggest as the Color Guard is ordered "Advance" ,  play CttC  as the Color Guard advances up the aisle.  If it is a long aisle , play the whole piece.  If you do the PoA, then that would come after the Posting of the colors. 

When the Scoutmaster (or SPL??)  comes forward to make his opening remarks, "Ruffles and Flourishes".  

When the Ranks are to be awarded, play "Attention"  (dah DIT dah DAH !) .

At the end of the evening, everyone is eager for the punch and cookies :) (or ribs and coleslaw?). If the ceremony closes with the flags in place,  say your benediction or closing remarks, and wish folks well.  If the flags will be "retrieved" ,  so with "Please retrieve the colors", play "Retreat" as they march down the aisle.  At the end of the piece,  dismiss the CG and crowd to the refreshments.  Yum.  (No, I would not add "Mess Call" here...)

Taps?  I  do not see Taps as appropriate in an indoor ceremony, unless there is another ceremonial reason.  But that's just me.  Outdoor ceremony? Wait until folks are about finished with the meal,   Let Bugleson get back in the woods a ways and play long and low from there. Let it echo.

 

Congratulations to all your Scouts !

Edited by SSScout
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Wow, I WISH we had a bugler in our Troop! We have a boy who is decent enough at the trumpet though, so I just need to find a way to translate that skill to adding bugle calls to our activities. Any ideas welcome!

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Well, Bugler is a PoR in everything save Eagle, I think that's right.  Ask him , if he would serve.   Bugling Merit Badge is fairly simple for a brass player.  One more roundel on the sash, eh?

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Well, the requirements say "Play", not necessarily from memory.   If they can read the chart, and do it well,  they will eventually learn it by heart.  Bugle only has five (or six, if youre really good), and most Scouts seem to learn it by listening.  Buy the CD, if you will.

In my experience, just PLAYING a bugle or other instrument is a chore.   It never ceases to surprise me that the Scout will come to the MB session without a horn, and without even the ability to "buzz". 

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This has been a challenge for Bugleson (:D) because he's a trombone player first.  He wasn't used to the small mouthpiece, and it has taken him a good six months to get to the point where he can hit that high G with any consistency.

Thank you, SSScout, for the recommendations.  He ended up playing 'To the Color' for the Court of Honor.  He stumbled once, but he's played enough times in public now that he knows to just keep going.  He didn't feel comfortable enough with some of the other calls to play them at this venue, but he'll get there.

Although he's allowed to use the sheet music when we meet with the MB counselor, I've noticed that the ones he's practiced a lot he can play from memory.  There's a YouTube video (isn't there one for everything these days?) that we've been using, too.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYEddDubgt0  We bought a used Holton trumpet, and Bugleson was doing what this guy does, with the first and third valves held down, but his MB counselor wanted him to use a real bugle.  We've borrowed one for now, but might consider getting our own. 

He hasn't composed his call yet, and has about five more of the required calls to finish up, but it looks like he should have the merit badge in a couple more weeks.  Our Troop was really excited to hear he had to compose something.  They want him to come up with an official Troop 368 call and bring the bugle to summer camp.  Having them excited about it has made him less worried about his playing and making mistakes.  This has, by far, been the hardest of the merit badges for him (though he's only done four others and one partial at this point), but it seems to be well worth it.

 

Edited by swilliams
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Wow, congratulations to Bugleson ... and to your Troop for having a Bugler - super!

I'll risk being nit-picky (just because I'm bored right now) and suggest a few modifications to SSScout's wonderful post, above.  Note, all of the bugle calls in the links below are required per the Bugling Merit Badge:   https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/Merit_Badge_ReqandRes/Bugling.pdf

1.  I like the idea of alerting the Troop with "First Call", but as it's officially a "warning that personnel will prepare to assemble for a formation", perhaps the SPL could announce the call with "Ladies & Gentlemen, please find your seats as we'll be starting in a moment".  http://www.music.army.mil/music/buglecalls/firstcall.asp

2.  I'm not in favor of the bugler blowing "To the Color" as the colors advance, as officially the call is to "render honors to the nation" and "commands all the same courtesies as the National Anthem."  Instead, following on the "First Call" warning, I might suggest the SPL invite the audience to "Please rise for the Presentation of the Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance" followed immediately by the Bugler blowing "Assembly"  http://www.music.army.mil/music/buglecalls/assembly.asp 

3.  Upon the SPL (or Honor Patrol Leader) commanding the colors to "...Advance!" (to the front of the audience), "...Halt!" and finally, "...Present the Colors!" at which point the Honor Patrol either presents the colors at the audience front or goes directly to the flag-stands - your choice - and upon "Scouts, Salute!  Guests please honor our flag."  the bugler plays "To the Color" in full (the most beautiful call there is, IMHO):  http://www.music.army.mil/music/buglecalls/tothecolor.asp

4.  "Ruffles & Flourishes" for the Scoutmaster?  - first, that's not a required call; and second, we're supposed to be Scout-lead.  Blowing "Attention" for the awarding of ranks might have the scouts jumping to their feet (and confuse the audience as to whether or not to stand).  Instead, the SPL might use "Attention" to get everyone on their feet in preparation for Retreat (as noted, it's an exceptionally brief call):   http://www.music.army.mil/music/buglecalls/attention.asp

5.  I agree that "Taps" is a tad melancholy and doubly agree "Retreat" is the proper call with which to end the ceremony (the next most beautiful call, after To the Color, IMHO):    http://www.music.army.mil/music/buglecalls/retreat.asp

Hope this is helpful and once again I'll add my congratulations to Bugleson and the tip of my hat to SSScout's post -

- Craig

Edited by AltadenaCraig
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Oh, that's all great.  Trombone was my first instrument too.  Let him have fun, give him some Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller, if not Slide Hampton .

Play in the Band:   like Scouts, it will get you places and opportunities the other kids won't (can't!) have.  Even if you do not become a "music major", the school band /orchestra is a neat place to be (Purdue Marching Band, Rank Captain, Rosebowl 1967).

A real Bugle?  Look for an OLD one, they will be a heavier caliber metal and sound stronger.  Replace the original thin mouth piece with a Bach 12C, expensive perhaps but much better embrouchure and comfort.  Look for "Captain Gallant of the French Foreign Legion".  They used the bugle a lot in that show, learn the "Tatoo" from it.  If you get tired of the American "Call to the Colors" you can always play the French ,   And "Boots and Saddles"  old TV shows, but neat bugling.... 

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15 hours ago, SSScout said:

Oh, that's all great.  Trombone was my first instrument too.  Let him have fun, give him some Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller, if not Slide Hampton .

Play in the Band:   like Scouts, it will get you places and opportunities the other kids won't (can't!) have.  Even if you do not become a "music major", the school band /orchestra is a neat place to be (Purdue Marching Band, Rank Captain, Rosebowl 1967).

A real Bugle?  Look for an OLD one, they will be a heavier caliber metal and sound stronger.  Replace the original thin mouth piece with a Bach 12C, expensive perhaps but much better embrouchure and comfort.  Look for "Captain Gallant of the French Foreign Legion".  They used the bugle a lot in that show, learn the "Tatoo" from it.  If you get tired of the American "Call to the Colors" you can always play the French ,   And "Boots and Saddles"  old TV shows, but neat bugling.... 

LOVE this!  Dorsey, Miller ... and Slide Hampton!!

Our Troop meets near the Rose Bowl and annually attends the parade.  Big-10 bands are ALWAYS the best - hands down (something to do with the weather, maybe?)  I remember Purdue at the '67 Rose Bowl; later that month your school lost two great alums in Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.

I made a fuss about the beauty of 'To the Color' followed by 'Retreat', IMHO.  But Tatoo beats them all.  Though not a MB required piece (likely because its too long) it's lovely nevertheless:  http://www.music.army.mil/music/buglecalls/tattoo.asp 

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One of the gentlemen in the pack has a silver BSA bugle in mint condition.  He changed the mouthpiece as mentioned above.

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Quick update.  The MB counselor loved Bugleson's composition.  Most of the calls were signed off, with four remaining; Officer's Call, Recall, Fire Call, and Call to Quarters (that lower 'C').  So...  one more week should do it.  This has been a very tough badge.

Thanks again to all for your tips and suggestions.

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