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Playing Tips

  • Seated, Settled, Solfège

    Mike Lawson | April 9, 2019

    I have over ninety students in one sixth grade beginning band class, and it always takes a little longer to get them seated and settled.

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  • Warm Up the Percussionists

    Mike Lawson | March 1, 2019

    Have your percussion section warm-up for about thirty seconds to a minute at the beginning of class.

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  • Weighing in on Scale Degrees

    Mike Lawson | February 8, 2019

    Once a student learns the first five tones, I like to teach them scale degrees as well. Doing this allows students to learn both the blues chord progression and easily identify intervals.

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  • For the Record

    Mike Lawson | January 9, 2019

    My favorite rehearsal tip to share with directors is to record your ensemble weekly. This works for marching band, concert band and jazz ensemble. At any given time, our ensembles are performing many, many different things simultaneously.

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  • Time on Your Side

    Mike Lawson | December 4, 2018

    Use a stopwatch to time transition events. For concert band rehearsals, use a site like online-stopwatch.com to show the students they have X-number of seconds to be ready after the bell, or you have X-number of time to practice this scale.

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  • Drawing Straws

    Mike Lawson | November 4, 2018

    When you have that student who just can’t understand how to tongue on the clarinet or sax, take a drinking straw and have them stop and start the air with their tongue on the straw.

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  • Scaling the Slur

    Mike Lawson | October 1, 2018

    Descending lip slurs are a piece of cake, and almost no young brass student struggles with that skill.

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  • Drummers: Ready and Engaged

    Mike Lawson | August 30, 2018

    Take at least one or two minutes to warm up the percussion section when beginning class. Having them do sixteenth notes without accents in stick patterns RLRL, RRLL, RLRRLRLL on drums or pads.

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  • That’s So Random

    Mike Lawson | August 3, 2018

    During the warm-up chorale, I point to my ear periodically to remind students that it is THEIR job to play in tune.

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  • Time for Timers

    Mike Lawson | July 16, 2018

    Still fighting the time battle? Nearly every student in your band program has their own smart phone or a tablet.

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  • Have a Time Trial

    Mike Lawson | May 11, 2018

    Assign a method book exercise that gets the fingers/slides moving.

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  • Improving Your Speed Using a Metronome

    Mike Lawson | April 5, 2018

    Set your metronome to 60 bpm (beats per minute), one note each second.

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