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Playing Tips

  • Keep It Warm

    SBO Staff | May 4, 2021Begin 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, […] Read More...
  • Clarinet “B for Bulls Eye and Both Pinkies”

    SBO Staff | April 6, 2021To 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 pinkies’. Michel Nadeau Burr Intermediate School East Northport, NY   For a PDF of this playing tip, with SBO’s Tone […] Read More...
  • To ‘daah’ or not to ‘daah’

    Steven Holgate | March 6, 2021“One of the most common contributions to a non-characteristic brass sound from a young player is the approach to articulation. Many use a ‘default’ articulation, such as ‘poo,’ ‘thaw,’ between the lips ‘pthoo,’ or just a ‘whoo’ with no tongue at all. The easiest ways to identify the style of articulation that a student is […] Read More...
  • Walk It Off!

    Todd Riddleberger | January 8, 2021

    “When in the final stages of preparation for any form of concert or performance, be sure to allow your students the opportunity to execute a ‘walk-through’ of the event.

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  • Tape Your Flute

    Terry Speed | December 3, 2020

    “To avoid some confusion for beginning flute players’ finger position, I put a small piece of masking tape on the first and third button of the left-hand portion of the flute. The tape is removed after a week or so when the players can find the natural finger position.”

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  • Essential for Embouchure

    David Snyder | October 28, 2020

    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.

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  • Getting Good Air

    Carolyn Ireland | October 1, 2020

    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.

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  • 10-Minute Brass Warmup

    Jim Kusserow | September 2, 2020

    Brass players warm up on your mouthpiece only. Play descending major arpeggios chromatically in whole notes from tuning Bb to as low a pedal tone as you can. After a quick rest, begin an ascending arpeggio pattern from low Bb concert to as high as you can without changing your embouchure. Tone, range and endurance will improve. Takes about 10 minutes.

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  • The Sound of Silence

    Ryan Laney | July 31, 2020

    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!

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  • Keep it Warm

    Jeremy D. Schutter | July 15, 2020

    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.

    Read More...
  • Essential for Embouchure

    David Snyder | June 15, 2020

    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 Chapstick.

    Read More...
  • To ‘daah’ or not to ‘daah’

    Steven Holgate | March 3, 2020

    “One of the most common contributions to a non-characteristic brass sound from a young player is the approach to articulation. Many use a ‘default’ articulation, such as ‘poo,’ ‘thaw,’ between the lips ‘pthoo,’ or just a ‘whoo’ with no tongue at all.

    Read More...
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