Beginning Band

October Beginning Band Information
Beginning band is off to a great start and students are making terrific progress with many knowing at lease 2-3 tunes and some having 4-5 concert ready.
For the rest of October, we will be continuing the routine developed at the end of September.
Brass and flute students should still be warming up with 15 long tones (hold the tone for 10 seconds or more) on just the mouthpiece or head joint (flute) followed by 10 long tones on each of the 5 (or 6 if they are to Twinkle) notes we have learned with their instrument put together observing in the mirror to see if they are "P-H-E-T":
  1.  Correct "Posture"
  2.  Correct "Hand Position"
  3. Correct "Embouchure"
  4.  Correct "Tonguing" - "Tah" or "Dah" (for flute). Avoid beginning the note by using the syllable "Pah" (lots of embouchure disturbance) or "Hah" (not articulating, at all).
Please ask for a concert as they should be able to say the note names (D, C, Bb.. or E, D, C..., etc. for Hot Cross Buns, Au Claire de la Luna, and Mary Had a Little Lamb and then your student should be able to play the tune for you.

There is just much repetition that is needed to be successful on note reading and it just seems to "click" for most kids but not at the same rate, at all.

Each student should have their fingering chart next to the "Beginning Band Tunes" sheet or on top of page 9 of the book (Accent on Achievement, Book 1) so that they can refer to the note names (letter names - C, D, E, etc.) and where each note is positioned on the staff.  Each line and space has a given letter name that never changes and as they ascend up the staff (starting with the bottom line) they move alphabetically through the "musical" alphabet (only 7 letters are used). Students should refer to page 5 of the book for more information regarding the names of each line and space.
After they can play Hot Cross Buns, Au Claire de la Luna, and Mary Had a Little Lamb, they can move on to on to Twinkle, Twinkle, and page 8 of the book for Jingle Bells. 
All of the tunes from the book can be played with the CD that came with heir book - the tracks line up with the line numbers in the book. Each line is played twice.  The first time the melody is played with the accompaniment by one of the band instruments (flute, clarinet, trumpet, etc.) and the second time just the accompaniment is played.  Many students have already found out how much fun it is to play along with the CD.  It helps to make them sound great.
Brass Players and register shifts:
Brass players are realizing they will have many notes with the same fingering - these are called "partials". Brass players often struggle with getting out of the basement (lower partials) tones to the upper (partial) tones and the following should help them to "ascend" the scale:
  1.  As tones go up, the middle of the tongue should rise (as in whistling) from "ah" to "ee" to "ich"
  2.  Corners of the mouth get a bit more firm as ascending and air speed will increase
  3.  Sometimes the mouthpiece is not placed firmly enough on the lips or the lips are pursed out (especially the bottom lip)
  4.  Extra help is sometimes need to get past this hurdle and it "clicks" at different rates for all students.  If your student needs help, have them ask for a little extra time before or after the band class.

We continue to follow the same routine of leaning/practicing each new tune.
1. say and finger the notes (using letter names - C, D, E, etc., not solfeggio - Do, Re, Mi, etc.)
2. air and finger
3. play the line three times.

Once a student has the note names down, try going backwards to be sure they understand the note names and positions.

Some students get confused as to the note appearance (filled in, not filled in, having a stem or not) which effects its duration but not its name.

Please encourage your child to do several repetitions of each line (saying the note names and doing the fingerings) to cement the recognition into memory.

Students vary quite widely as to how quickly they pick up this skill as it is really reading a new language.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Remember, the most important thing to do is to do your starts in front of the mirror and check your embouchure to produce a pure, long tone.  Don't be afraid to try some adjustment with your mouth and mouthpiece position to see if you can get a better sound.

Student should be practicing about 20-25 minutes 5-6 times per week to develop their embouchure and note reading skills.
I am very glad to be working with these great students!
Greg Allison
Some good YouTube videos for beginning band.Flute