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.

Characteristic tone and tuning start with air. Unrestricted air requires use of the diaphragm, posture that allows for expansion in the abdomen, a relaxed and open throat, and no tension in the shoulders or neck. Good air should move a piece of paper held in front of the face from vertical to horizontal.

Carolyn Ireland

Dr. John Folks Middle School

San Antonio, Texas

For a well-rounded tone quality, I am convinced you need to warm-up the band always using long tones from B flat concert and play half steps down to low F concert and back up using half steps. It results in better tone and better tuning. It’s simple, but it works over a period of time.

Read more: A Long Tone Warming Up in Half Steps

Reseat string orchestral sections into multiple string quintets. This approach emphasizes listening beyond your section and part while playing in an ensemble. It can also be a smooth introduction to conductor-less chamber music. Additionally, it’s a good way to check for individual accuracy much more efficiently and more in context than having them play one at a time.

David West
Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music
Bronx, NY

 

 

When a student is sitting poorly they are able to take in air until their lungs can’t take in any more. To the student, this feels like a full breath of air. We know that once they sit up their chest cavity will be more open and allow them to take in even more air. To demonstrate this, hold up an empty disposable 12 oz. plastic water bottle, which represents their lungs.

Read more: Breath, Breath in the Air….

Young clarinet players often play with unsupported, flat sounds in the upper register. This is often caused by a “mushy” bottom lip and chin. Ask your clarinetists to imagine they are looking in a mirror and putting on either lipstick or chapstick. As they do this, the bottom lip should stretch automatically and the chin will go flat. A firm bottom lip and a flat chin are essential for a good clarinet embouchure (especially in the upper register) and this should get your clarinet players making the correct embouchure.

Read more: Perfectly on Pitch

Begin each rehearsal with a warm-up routine that focuses on some basic playing. This will develop good tone, intonation, blend and balance, technique, and it will engage the students to develop deeper listening skills. There are many good ensemble method books that can be incorporated to help a director initiate this phase. All in all, this could be 10-15 minutes of the most important time spent at each rehearsal. Everything done during this time period will transfer to other portions of the rehearsal.

Read more: Keep it Warm

David Snyder of Illinois State University in Normal, IL presents this month's Playing Tip.

Read more: Essential for Embouchure

I’m very insistent on the sound vs. silence duality. We will often practice by starting a note together with a solid sound and releasing the note together as a group. Depending on the group, it sometimes takes only two or three tries, sometimes it takes 15-20 minutes of work, but we get there.

Read more: The Sound of Silence

Since 2009, Roy Vogt's Teach Me Bass Guitar (TMBG) has been acknowledged as the world's best course of self-paced bass guitar instruction, and it's now available in two formats - download/streaming and the traditional, award-winning 10 DVD package.

Read more: Teach Me Bass Guitar Now Available For Download and Streaming

To get all students involved and to quickly assess their knowledge, I will pose a question and have students close their eyes when they have the answer. I will then ask them to raise their hand when they hear the correct answer, or I will have them show me fingers for beat counts, et cetera. Doing this allows me to quickly get feedback on their retention and cuts down on written tests.

Read more: “Use the Force” For Quick 
Knowledge Assessment

 


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