EPN Travel Services proudly presents: The Playing Tip of the Month!

Enter your warm-up, rehearsal, performance, or teaching tip for a chance to win a special prize from EPN Travel Services!

Winning Playing Tips will be published in School Band & Orchestra magazine.

Recently, I saw various sections resting and oblivious to the music that was surrounding them. I stopped the group and began asking the various sections: who has the melody? Those sections were caught off guard, so I invited them to listen as the other sections played again: this time hands skyrocketed with the answer. Later, I asked sections who were playing at the time if they knew who has the melody. Those sections were unresponsive: so I asked that they play softer to listen for the melody. After playing through the excerpt again, the sections knew the answer and learned to listen for the melody. 

Paul Herrera
San Jose State University 
San Jose, CA

I get many phone calls asking for help because "I oiled my valves and now my horn won't play." The best way to avoid this is to oil valves using this simple method:

- Press the first valve down. 

- Remove the first valve slide. 

- Put a 'squirt' of oil in eac tube. 

- Press the first valve down. 

- Re-insert the slide. 

The oil will travel through the connecting ports to valves two and three. If you do this each day before you play, your valves will never stick and the valves will always be in the correct slot!

Jim Manzo
Retired MS Band Director
Retired US Army Band Director
Current Private Instructor, Beorne, TX 

Imagine a story as you perform, whether the music at hand is an etude, a concerto, or a set of scales. Have a constantly evolving picture, a storyline in your mind’s eye as you connect mind-to-body, body-to-instrument, instrument-to-music, and the music will transcend itself. If music is a language, then why shouldn’t the notes tell a story?

Kelly Hung

Hinsdale Central High School

Hinsdale, Illinois

A great practice method is the Penny Game. There are three versions of this, so it can be tailored to the student. Put ten pennies on the left lip of your music stand. The goal is to get all ten pennies to the right. Easy version: If it's played accurately, move one to the right. If it isn't accurate, leave one to the left. Hard version: Accurate = move right; inaccurate = move one back to the left. Sudden Death version: Accurate = move right; inaccurate = move ALL pennies back to the left, and start over again!

Liz Harwood
Kasson-Mantorville Middle School
Kasson, Minnesota

Most sax players use too little mouthpiece in the mouth. I use my "rule of thumb": have them put their thumb in their mouth so their bottom teeth are at the bottom of their thumbnail. That's how much mouthpiece should be in their mouth. If they match that to their mouthpiece, it will open up their sound and help with their pitch.

Dan Hodgkins
Torrington Middle School
Torrington, CT

Play loud, and act confident until you are confident with your playing.

Razan A. Badr
Riverdale High School
Jefferson, Louisiana

Never play to "impress" others! I have seen dozens of musicians tie themselves in knots at auditions, performances and even rehearsals trying to impress someone else — the conductor perhaps, the anonymous committee at auditions or even people in the audience! Play for the joy of the music, the composer and for yourself!

Stephen Heyde
Baylor University

To accelerate learning for B above the break, I put 1/4" round color coding labels on both pinky keys. Students learn that B is the bulls eye of the music staff and played with both pinky's.

 

Michel Nadeau

Burr Intermediate School

East Northport, NY

The dot makes a note longer by half the notes value. I first teach the dotted half note, then the dotted whole note. Learning to read the dotted quarter note becomes much easier for students to grasp the concept of augmentation dots.

Michel Nadeau
Burr Intermediate School
Commack, New York

Before playing your flute, take the mouthpiece only and do a few slurring exercises (going from the lower octaves to the high octave) and play around with your sound a little while looking into a mirror. Listen carefully how your sound changes by either pushing more air from your stomach, or loosening/tightening your embouchure. Make sure that your bottom lip is covering half of the mouthpiece! Do this as a 5-minute-warm-up and it should improve your tone quality!

Anahi Nanez
New Caney High School
New Caney, Texas

 

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