Posts Tagged 'Band'

How to Keep Your Music Students Sharp Over the Summer

While summer is a great time to relax and enjoy the vacation, it can also be a great time for music students to improve their skills and become even more proficient musicians. Below are some tips and advice for music teachers wanting to help their students practice music over the summer.

Offer a summer music program

If you’re able to keep working with your students throughout the summer (or if you know other teachers who might be), let your students know that they can continue taking lessons over the break. And if you can’t do lessons yourself, consider offering a summer music camp or other similar programs where they can keep up with their practice and their peers.

Use social media to keep your students connected to each other and to you

Not only will your students stay connected over social media, but they’ll also be able to access a wealth of resources that can improve their playing skills. Facebook groups can be private or public, and you can use them to share practice tips and videos.

You could even create a private group for your current students and alumni so that former students can offer advice on how to overcome technical challenges or share musical ideas. You might also consider creating an online course that your students would have access to all summer long.

This course could include weekly mini-lessons on topics like sight-reading, ear training, improvisation, or music theory. This is an especially great option if you have multiple levels of experience throughout your studio or if some of your students will be traveling this summer.

Encourage students to listen to music in the car and around the house

One way to keep students engaged with music during the summer is to encourage them to listen while going about their regular lives. While they’re riding their bikes, playing outside, or waiting at the doctor’s office, they can listen to their favorite songs. This will keep their musical ideas flowing even when they’re away from the instrument.

It will also help them familiarize themselves with new songs—if you have a student who has learned a new piece of music, they may have trouble remembering it. Still, if they hear it a lot over the summer (either because you gave them a copy beforehand or because they listen to videos on YouTube), they’ll be more likely to retain it when you get together again in the fall.

Encourage your students to enlist a fun practice partner

The summer months can be difficult for students to continue learning—a friend or a buddy can help keep them engaged! Try partnering up student by instrument and the neighborhood they live in. Next, have them take turns picking out music to practice together, or create a music bucket list for students to choose from all summer (bonus points if they practice all the pieces on your list!).

Give your students a chance to reflect on their music and improve their playing this summer!

Now that you’ve got the tools and a clear picture of the benefits of summer practice, it’s time to take action and make the most of your summer! The best part about these tips is that they’re not just for your students—they’re can apply to you, too. No matter the experience level, everyone will benefit from keeping up with their playing through the summer months.

Even if they don’t have time to practice every day, they’ll retain more information and advance more quickly if they keep up with practicing regularly. More than anything else, you want them to enjoy playing music and making progress on their instrument so that they’ll continue in the future. At Sheet Music Plus, we provide the world’s largest sheet music selection for all abilities, styles, genres, and instruments.

John Williams: 90 Years – And Counting

On this, his 90th birthday, we’d posit that there is no living composer who has managed to be simultaneously so well-known, well-respected and well-loved than John Williams. We know his grand era- and genre-defining oeuvre like the backs of our hands: Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Harry Potter, E.T., Indiana Jones — and the list goes on and on.

The broader public will recognize Williams pieces for their ingenious hooks, fearless displays of the widest range of human emotion, and instantaneous connection to the moving images they bring to life. Musicians, meanwhile, will simply enjoy playing his beautiful melodies and deeply satisfying orchestrations that feel undeniably natural.

None of this, of course, needs any introduction — and sometimes that’s the fun of it. Especially in times like these where our society seems to become more intensely divided with each passing day, a cultural touchpoint of pure joy that we all hold dear and that we can all relate to might be exactly what we need.

The John Williams Signature Edition series remains the gold standard in Williams scores. These spiral-bound, fully-engraved conductor’s scores come directly from the Williams originals and contain anecdotes written and signed by Williams himself that tell us, for example, which scene that he scored was his favorite, how the actors who worked on his legendary films helped to inspire his music, and his own personal connections to the characters those actors brought to life. Whether for orchestra or concert band, these editions have become cornerstones of the popular repertoire of premier ensembles across the country, and with Baby Yoda of The Mandalorian capturing the hearts of a whole new generation of Star Wars fans, that looks to be true for years to come.

Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician: How to Build Solid Foundations & Help First-Year Students Fall in Love with Music

Those of us who teach beginners have specific challenges. Not only do we have to acquaint our students with new instruments, but we also have to begin to acquaint them with musical notation and theory, help them develop good practice habits, and be on the lookout for improper techniques that can turn into major challenges in the years ahead. If our students are very young, we have extra work to help them develop their motor skills, and if we teach ensembles like bands and orchestras, we have the added challenge of attempting to do all of this for many students at the same time.

The team behind the much-loved Habits series, which includes such titles as Habits of a Significant Band Director and Habits of a Successful Middle School Band Director, is back to address these challenges head-on with a new method book focused on first-year band, Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician, and a treasure trove of supplemental resources on the Habits Universal website perfect for virtual, in-person and hybrid learning environments alike.

Here’s what makes Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician special:

Instrument-Specific Instruction

Even within the context of an entire band, Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician manages to deliver specialized resources for each instrument.

On Habits Universal, students can watch videos of professionals introduce and play each exercise on each instrument. This helps them learn how music notation translates to the sounds they make, exposes them to what their instruments can sound like with proper technique and tons of practice, and gives them models to strive toward. This is especially critical for students who don’t have access to private lessons, masterclasses or high-level live performances.

Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician also addresses individual instrument techniques that many other methods ignore entirely, which are especially helpful for instruments that a lot of band directors find a bit trickier. Among these topics are:

  • The oboe F dilemma: Did you know that the oboe has three different ways to play an F?  Many directors don’t even realize that there are three options!  Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician indicates which F an oboist should use throughout most of the book.
  • Bassoon flicking: The best way to initiate sound on the bassoon for an A, B-flat, B, C or D is to flick on the C key. Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician describes what this means and how to do it, and employs the degree sign, the universal sign for bassoonists to flick, throughout the book.

This level of detail extends to other instruments with such features as left and right indicators for clarinets, thorough sticking for mallets, and chromatic fingering indicators.

Teacher Tips & Resources

Each exercise in Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician comes with tips for the teacher: how to approach an exercise with their students, what to watch out for in various instrument sections, and suggestions for how to help students master it. Below is an example:

On Habits Universal Interactive, students can play along with backing tracks and listen to real audio models of their lines. They can also video record themselves playing their lines and get automatic graded feedback on their performance. While this feature is especially helpful for remote instruction, it’s also incredibly valuable for students who can be shy about playing in front of their peers.

Notably, the assessment software scores pitch, rhythm and length separately, and tracks errors alongside the notated line, so that a student can go note by note and see exactly where they need to improve. (The teacher still has the option to change final scores on assignments and to add comments.)

This video shows an extensive demo of Habits Universal Interactive. (The demo of the assessment tool starts at minute 27:39.)

As a note, grades can be integrated with virtually any software (e.g., Schoology, Canvas, PowerSchool) that a school uses to report grades via a simple export.

Musicianship

Written by band directors with decades of experience under their belts, Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician confronts the classic difficulty of getting kids out of what author Scott Rush calls the “B-flat/E-flat/A-flat Club,” where kids are only comfortable playing in B-flat Major and E-flat Major with some momentary departures into F Major. Rather than, as in other methods, playing in the B-flat pentascale 95% of the time, Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician quickly moves up a step to the C pentascale to get kids used to reading and playing in keys with naturals and sharps, opening up a larger portion of the literature to them by the time they get to middle school and high school.

With so much focus on specific tactics and features, it’s crucial to mention that what is perhaps the most important part of Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician is that its primary goal is to help students fall in love with music. Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician offers teachers developmentally appropriate language for teaching musical concepts so that even beginner band students can start to build musicality into their playing from the early days.

Alex Shapiro: Making Her Own Rules

AlexShapiro

Alex Shapiro

If a composer just so happens to also be a photographer, an essayist, and an activist both within the musical arena and outside of it, it seems fitting that she would describe her own work as “pan-genre and diverse – sometimes within the same piece!” Alex Shapiro’s extensive catalog encompasses film scores, chamber music and choral works, but it is in concert band music that Alex has been leaving her strongest mark as a composer.

Alex’s first foray into the concert band world came in 2007, when Major Tod A. Addison, Commander and conductor of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Band, contacted her via MySpace to commission a piece. At the time Alex had never composed for, participated in or even attended a performance of a wind band in her life, but was encouraged by Major Addison’s openness to her ideas and decided to jump right in.

HomecomingThe final piece, titled “Homecoming,” folds Alex’s sophisticated take on symphonic and jazz-pop music into traditional wind band sounds, while also taking a nuanced, multi-dimensional approach to the concept of a “military theme.” The result isn’t a collection of recognizable layers of elements, but rather something entirely new.

Continue reading ‘Alex Shapiro: Making Her Own Rules’

Series Spotlight: Teaching Music through Performance

Teaching Music through Performance is a best-selling series of books and CDs that are theoretical, practical, and analytical. Written, researched, and compiled by scholars with a wealth of teaching and conducting experience, this series enables conductors,  educators, and students to move beyond the printed page toward full musical awareness. Sheet Music Plus had the opportunity to learn from the publisher what inspired the creation of the series.

1. When was the Teaching Music through Performance series developed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first edition of Volume 1 was for band and was released at the Midwest Clinic in 1997. This year, 2017 is the 20th anniversary of the series.  The Teaching Music through Performance series now includes 26 volumes, 16 for band, three for jazz, three for orchestra, and four for choir. In addition, each volume has accompanying CDs.

Continue reading ‘Series Spotlight: Teaching Music through Performance’

Why Supporting Local Music Matters

Not only is it back to school season, it’s also the time of year when local symphonies and bands, both professional and community, begin their new seasons. Orchestras and bands exist in all 50 states and nearly every community. The Performing Arts Alliance estimates that there are approximately 1800 orchestras alone in the United States, including professional, paid orchestras, volunteer orchestras, collegiate orchestras, and youth orchestras. Do you have an orchestra or band in your community? If you don’t know, it is very likely that there is at least one in your town or county. During the 2014-2015 performance season, we challenge you to go to at least one concert of a local community group, and here’s why:

Community music groups are great for local economies. How many times have you and your friends or family gone out for dinner before or after a sports game or important school function? Musical performances encourage spending at local restaurants, parking facilities, shops and more.

Music organizations create jobs – and not just for the musicians. Depending on the size of the group, it may have an executive director, a marketing team, a personnel manager and music librarian, just to name a few. Even small community groups will require stage crew at venues, box office attendants, and ushers to distribute programs.

Orchestras and bands play an important role in music education and community engagement. Musicians from these groups will often visit local schools and provide educational assemblies, instrument petting zoos, and even coachings on their instruments to students in the music program. Some groups give free performances or open rehearsals in senior living centers, or free, family friendly concerts in local parks. Even the country’s most esteemed musical organizations perform special concerts for children and families. For example, the San Francisco Symphony recently performed live music from several Pixar movies with clips and memorable scenes playing in the background.

To reach a wider audience, orchestras and bands have expanded their musical selections beyond the traditional repertoire. Not everyone finds the standard Bach, Beethoven or Brahms appealing, and there is a lot of great music for orchestra and band from the movies and even video games. So, if you aren’t a particular fan of classical music, look up your local group’s programming for the season and select a concert to attend that will interest you.

This only scratches the surface of the many reasons it is important and FUN to support local music. If we are preaching to the choir and you already do support local music, share this with your friends! Invite them to a concert. Ask them to attend one of your performances. Attend a concert with them – make it an event and go out to dinner before or dessert after. We want everyone to attend one local music concert this season! Lastly, please chime in with reasons why and how you support music in your community.

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

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’


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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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