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Playing Tips

  • Tuning the Band and Orchestra

    Robert W. Smith | January 19, 2022When tuning the band or orchestra, be sure to focus not only on matching pitch, but tuning octaves. Many instruments of the ensemble are displaced from the reference pitch by an octave or more. I suggest beginning with tuning the principal players. Once the pitch and octaves are secure, use the principal players together as […] Read More...
  • To Conduct or Not to Conduct?

    Joseph Canzano | December 18, 2021When playing your chorale at the end of the warm up, try not conducting and ask the band/orchestra work together as a team to deliver the music. In addition to helping with their sense of time and tempo, it will force them to listen carefully throughout the ensemble. Most importantly, it will require them breath […] Read More...
  • Creating Forward Motion In Phrasing

    Heather Hoefle | November 12, 2021Instead of counting 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, count 2-3-4-1, 2-3-4-1. This helps push the music over the barline. Heather Hoefle Homewood SD 153 – Flossmoor, IL   Read More...
  • Developing Balance Within Each Section of the Band

    Robert W. Smith | October 9, 2021As you work to develop and teach balance within sections of the band, try rearranging the seating based on part assignments.  Instead of sitting together by part (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd), try seating them in integrated trios.  For example, place a 3rd clarinetist in the traditional first chair. From there, assign chairs by integrating parts […] Read More...
  • Sing & Show

    SBO Staff | August 13, 2021“I have my trombone players sing note names to me as they show me the correct positions. A variation to this is to have them say position numbers as they show the correct positions. This trains students’ note reading and slide positions simultaneously, and prevents them from having to write note names or positions into […] Read More...
  • June 2021, Playing Tips: Policing the Posture

    SBO Staff | June 11, 2021When students 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 12oz plastic water bottle, which represents their lungs. Squeeze the water bottle with your hand to resemble our lungs when we are sitting with poor posture. With […] Read More...
  • 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!

    Mike Lawson | 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

    Mike Lawson | 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

    Mike Lawson | 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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