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Playing Tips

  • Drawing Straws

    Lisa Lang | 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

    Larry Klabunde | 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

    Hal Sargent | 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

    Johnny Folsom | 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

    Anonymous | 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

    Tony Luzzi | May 11, 2018

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

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  • Improving Your Speed Using a Metronome

    Leif Nelson | April 5, 2018

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

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  • See me, hear me…

    Ceylon Mitchell | March 2, 2018When learning and rehearsing a new piece with your ensemble, allow them to have access to a recording AND a score in rehearsal, and online. They can study their parts and realize how they fit within the entire aural texture. During rehearsal, I use my computer and a school projector. Outside of rehearsal, students can […] Read More...
  • On Your Mark, Get Set, Go…

    Todd L. Hunter | February 2, 2018Don’t start playing until you are ready; mentally and physically prepare to commence. Too often, younger players try to begin playing before they are actually “set” to begin, resulting in poor entrances, missed rhythms and notes, and an array of other inaccuracies that otherwise might not occur if they simply take a moment to prepare. […] Read More...
  • The Goldilocks Method

    Michel Nadeau | January 8, 2018To get beginners to understand quantitative playing skills like air, tonguing, and embouchure, I use the 3 bears analogy and tell students to “find baby bear.” This accelerates learning and makes it interesting. Phrases like “You’re blowing like Papa Bear, use less air and keep it moving” or “Your tongue is like Mama Bear and is […] Read More...
  • Pencil Pushing

    Glen Ericksen | December 6, 2017

    If you’re having a problem playing a certain passage, set out an empty glass with 10 pencils on the side.

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  • Don’t Start Playing Until You Are Ready, Mentally and Physically

    Todd L. Hunter | November 6, 2017

    Too often, younger players try to begin playing before they are actually “set” to begin, resulting in poor entrances, missed rhythms and notes, and an array of other inaccuracies that otherwise might not occur if they simply take a moment to prepare.

    Read More...
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