Friday, November 14, 2014
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Learning a musical instrument is unlike almost any other endeavor a young child attempts. Virtually no other activity requires the same kind of weekly instruction, the intense individual effort that must continue over a period of several years, and, most of all, the daily practice that is so essential to learning to play an instrument.
Practice should be part of a regular, preferably daily routine.It is better to practice in routine small chunks than in sporadic, intense, long bursts. The brain simply processes musical information better that way.
To be effective, practice has to be viewed as a primary activity, like doing homework, eating lunch, or going to school. Daily practice is not an easy habit and children need to be reminded and encouraged to practice their instruments, just as they need to be reminded to brush their teeth or do their homework. One effective solution that works for some families (but certainly not for everyone) is for the child to practice in the morning before school. Just as with exercise, this gets the job done and out of the way. If there is time for more practice later in the day, great. If not, at least the minimum practice requirements have been met.
Rehearsal Attendance & Commitment:
Students in 5th grade band are expected to attend every after school rehearsal as part of their class requirement. The purpose of rehearsal is to give the band complete security and accuracy in performance, and to enable it to play with commitment and sincerity.
The purpose of rehearsal is to also put the big picture together, refine and fine tune everything, take it to our best performance level and beyond. When children are able to accomplish this, they feel confident, proud, and build team relationships and camaraderie far beyond just playing music.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
The early weeks of Beginning Band are some of the toughest of a child’s musical career. Although students’ musical abilities tend to grow by leaps and bounds during these early days, there are still some stubborn challenges that can frustrate even the most patient young musicians. Here are some challenges that your child might be facing right now in band…and practical ways you can help!
2. Brass players’ notes are too high, too low, or hard to play. - Brass players at this stage may be frustrated with the quality of the sounds coming out of their instruments. This is NORMAL, and will improve with consistent practice! Unlike other instruments whose sound comes from striking a surface or vibrating a reed with air, brass instruments’ sound comes solely from the vibrating of the player’s lips. Many young brass players’ facial muscles simply aren’t strong enough to create a beautiful tone just yet. Help your child by encouraging them to practice daily, and asking to hear some “rude mouthpiece noises or to try buzzing a familiar song.”
3. Clarinet squeaks! - One of the biggest challenges for clarinet players is getting the embouchure (mouth position) and the fingers “just right”, so that the notes come out full, not airy or squeaky. Encourage daily practice, and remind your child about “tight corners”, “fat fingers”, and “teeth on top”.
4. Dizzy Feeling...Dizziness is a common affliction that affects young flute players. Playing the flute requires more air than any other instrument, even the tuba! When a child is just starting to play the flute, he must inhale and exhale a great deal more air than he’s used to, and this can cause him to become dizzy or lightheaded. If your child gets dizzy during practice, encourage her to simply take a few moments to allow the dizziness to subside, and then resume playing. Over time, her body will become more accustomed to the demands of playing, and the bouts of dizziness will become fewer and farther between.