Archive for the 'Teacher Resources' Category

How to Read a Fake Book

By Kevin Harper

History of Fake Books and Lead Sheets

Imagine this: you’re a famous jazz player; you’re busy on the road going from gig to gig. One day you come up with a great tune and want to write it down and orchestrate it for your ensemble, but orchestration takes a long time. So instead, you write down the melody and then write out the general chords and any potential rhythms. When you read it during the gig (for the first time no doubt!) you and your bandmates have a general outline of what needs to happen – everything else is improvised. Because improvisations are different everytime, writing down the “correct” way of playing any tune in the old days was impossible.

As jazz grew in popularity, everyone wanted to hear all the popular songs, but the problem was that many of these tunes were hard to find or unpublished. Eventually, lead sheets were circulated from band to band and that became the standard way of notating tunes.

The original fake book, known as The Real Book, contained illegally reproduced, copyrighted songs. It was meant to be used as a textbook of standard jazz tunes. The publishers wanted to pawn off the tunes in the book as “real” versions of the songs. However, legal battles ensued, so any other future books had to have a different name. Thus, the term fake book was born from The Real Book. It also has a double-meaning in that the performer is “faking” his way through the song because the arrangement is not the same as the original version.

Continue reading ‘How to Read a Fake Book’

Organ Fun Facts

By Jacy Burroughs

1. The concept of the organ dates back to an instrument called the hydraulis, invented in Ancient Greece in the 3rd Century BCE. A hydraulis was a mechanical instrument in which the wind pressure is regulated by water pressure. By the 7th Century AD, bellows replaced water pressure to supply the organ with wind.

Ancient Greek Hydraulis

Ancient Greek Hydraulis

Continue reading ‘Organ Fun Facts’

10 tips for staying in shape (on your instrument) over the summer

By Jacy Burroughs

 1. Practice in the morning. If you are on break from school, designate a time in the morning for practicing. That way, you can make sure you at least get some practicing in at the beginning of your day. We all know that if we wait to practice later in the day, we may end up making plans, going out, being too tired and making other excuses not to practice.

2. Set a goal. Whether you are a beginner, a high school student preparing for seating auditions or a college student getting ready for a fall recital, the list of goals you can set for yourself is endless! Maybe you want to get better at sight-reading, learn a new song, work through a particular etude book, memorize a piece – make a goal to achieve by the end of the summer. Set interim goals for yourself along the way so you can check in and make sure you’re on track. Continue reading ’10 tips for staying in shape (on your instrument) over the summer’

10 Outstanding Resources for Jazz Musicians

By Zachariah Friesen

Teachers, students, professionals and dreamers, welcome to the jazz reference mecca. This is comprised of some of the great literary resources, DVDs and method books for the aspiring jazz musician. Learn the keys of success from people who have success in the profession. With these must-have resources, you’ll be jamming, gigging and living the jazz life in no time.

1. How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker – To play jazz you must learn how to hear jazz. The great Jerry Coker beautifully explains how to train your ear and what to listen for in jazz music.

How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker

How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker

Continue reading ’10 Outstanding Resources for Jazz Musicians’

10 Must-Read Books to Help You Succeed in the Music Industry

By Zachariah Friesen

Whether you or one of your kids is embarking on a journey into the world of music, there is help to guide you along the way. These great resources will give you tips on how the music industry works, how you fit into it and how to survive. Intrigue, information and experience – the learning starts now!

1. The Music Lesson (A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music) By Victor Wooten

The Music Lesson

The Music Lesson

“…Every movement, phrase, and chord has its own meaning. All you have to do is find the song inside.”

Continue reading ’10 Must-Read Books to Help You Succeed in the Music Industry’

Introduction to the Classical Period

By Catherine Hua

Canaletto

Have you ever read a composer’s name on a music program and realized that you had no clue how to pronounce it, much less know what to expect for his or her music? (Mr. Dvořák, I’m talking about you.) While the pronunciation is simple to learn (it’s DVOR-zhahk by the way), it’s even easier to get a sense of a composer’s style, once you remember the period that he or she is from. If you need a refresher on the Baroque period, you can read more in our previous article here.

Introduction to the Classical Period

The end of the Baroque period took place as a Continue reading ‘Introduction to the Classical Period’

Introduction to the Baroque Period

By Catherine Hua

The Royal Theater in Turin

The Royal Theater in Turin

The Baroque period, which took place between approximately 1600 and 1750, contrasted with the restraint and rationality of the Renaissance. It is unsurprising that the art and music of that era, most of which were commissioned by the Catholic Church and by royalty, were marked by their emotional intensity, grandiosity, and ornate beauty.

The piano’s predecessor, the Continue reading ‘Introduction to the Baroque Period’

The Ultimate Guide to Concert Band Repertoire 1.0

By Zachariah Friesen

Behold, the school year approaches! If you haven’t already picked your music here are some suggestions that should help you find the right mixes of challenging and fun music, as well as old and new music, to fill out your concert programs for the upcoming school year and strengthen your library. To help guide you through the suggestions, publisher names are in parenthesis and the “(y)“ signifies titles appropriate for young bands.

An American Elegy - Frank Ticheli

An American Elegy – Frank Ticheli

Michael Colgrass - Winds of Nagual

Michael Colgrass – Winds of Nagual

Michael Daugherty - Lost Vegas

Michael Daugherty – Lost Vegas

Astor Piazolla - Oblivion

Astor Piazolla – Oblivion

Persichetti - Symphony for Band

Persichetti – Symphony for Band

Huntsberger - Tocatta & Fugue in D Minor

Hunsberger – Tocatta & Fugue in D Minor

If you didn’t already know, select concert band full sets and method books are currently on sale at Sheet Music Plus - 20% off. Shop the sale →

Onward with The Ultimate Guide to Concert Band Repertoire 1.0!

Here are our recommendations of composers/arrangers you should know. All of the recommendations below present a wide range of material that is very suitable for any band:

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Frank Ticheli  (Manhattan Beach Music) Frank Ticheli has been at the top of his game for a long time now. There’s always a good story behind his pieces and playing his music is just really fun. SMP recommends: Continue reading ‘The Ultimate Guide to Concert Band Repertoire 1.0′

Artist Interview – Hans-Gunter Heumann (The Classical Piano Method)

 Hans-Gunter Heumann

Hans-Gunter Heumann

By Brendan Lai-Tong

If you’re a music teacher, it’s likely that you are on the lookout for the something new to help teach your students more effectively. Whether this is new repertoire, etudes, or method books, it’s always nice to branch out to see what else is out there. You’ll never know when  something new will work really well for a particular student!

While we were at the Music Teachers National Association Convention in Anaheim, California we had the pleasure of meeting Hans-Günter Heumann. Many of you may know of his contributions to the piano repertoire. His original compositions, arrangements and educational methods for piano are enjoyed by pianists around the world, especially in Germany.

Hans-Günter studied at the Continue reading ‘Artist Interview – Hans-Gunter Heumann (The Classical Piano Method)’

More Teaching Resources – Interview With Michelle Sisler (Keys to Imagination)

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Michelle Sisler

Michelle Sisler

Music lessons should never be a dull or boring experience. There are many great method books and resources that teachers can use to make music lessons fun, interesting and engaging for students of all ages. We were on the lookout for some of these resources while at the Music Teacher’s National Association Convention in Anaheim, California.  Some great resources that stood out were teaching aids and games from Keys to Imagination. Michelle Sisler was running the Keys to Imagination booth right next to ours at the show!

Michelle’s uses of technology and creative teaching materials have gained her national recognition and a Continue reading ‘More Teaching Resources – Interview With Michelle Sisler (Keys to Imagination)’


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Thought-provoking articles by musicians for musicians, music lovers or those that want to learn more about it!

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