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

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

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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When tuning a chord, have students sing the chord, then bring the instruments up to their face and play the chord after a breath. They will quickly see the difference in intonation and adjust accordingly, if they are listening.

Read more: Sing the Chord!

I have seen too many triangle clamps with incorrect ways of supporting the triangle. Sometimes there is only one hole on the clamp for the support to pass through. There needs to be two holes in the base of the clamp. That being said, try using a small zip tie to connect the triangle to the clamp. It’s durable and doesn’t muffle the triangle sound. Be sure not to make the zip tie too tight or it will rub against the clamp.

Read more: Paying Tips: Zip Tie that Triangle!

To ensure young percussionists are playing with their stick beads close together, take a quarter or a fifty-cent piece and place it directly in the center of the drum head. Then take a pencil and trace a circle around the coin so your students can see the circle when they start to play. Instruct them to play within the circle. This will train them to play with their stick beads close together. This produces a more consistent sound on the drum. You can also draw a circle toward the front edge of the drum head for softer playing zones.”

Read more: Playing Tips: Keep the Tips Close

“When tuning, lightly articulate your tuning pitch a few times. Not only will this allow you to hear if you are above or below the reference pitch more easily, but it also ensures that you are in tune at the attack and not relying on embouchure or air adjustments to stay in tune.”

 

Michael Knight

St. Norbert College

De Pere, Wis.

“To get beginners to understand quantitative playing skills like breath control, tonguing, and embouchure, I use the three bears analogy. This accelerates learning and makes it interesting. Specific phrases might include ‘You’re blowing like Papa Bear, use less air and keep it moving,’ or ‘Your tongue is like Baby Bear’s and is too light, you need to articulate more clearly.’”

Michel Nadeau

Burr Intermediate School

Commack, NY

"When they’re playing the snare, I tell the kids to imagine that their sticks are on railroad tracks. They go forward to tap the drumhead and return along the same path in a "V" formation with the drumstick tips one inch above the drumhead and one inch apart – it’s the one-inch rule. This helps to develop good playing habits from the start, so that in later years they can play quick passages and with economy of movement."

Chris McAvoy
Mann Middle School
Lakewood, Wash.

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