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Playing Tips

  • Play for Joy!

    Sharon Paquette Lose | September 12, 2016Never play to “impress” others! I have seen dozens of musicians tie themselves in knots at auditions, performances and even rehearsals trying to impress someone else — the conductor perhaps, the anonymous committee at auditions or even people in the audience! Play for the joy of the music, the composer and for yourself! Stephen Heyde […] Read More...
  • “Dots Good”

    Sharon Paquette Lose | September 12, 2016The dot makes a note longer by half the notes value. I first teach the dotted half note, then the dotted whole note. Learning to read the dotted quarter note becomes much easier for students to grasp the concept of augmentation dots. Michel Nadeau Burr Intermediate School Commack, New York Read More...
  • Five-Minute Flute

    Sharon Paquette Lose | September 12, 2016Before playing your flute, take the mouthpiece only and do a few slurring exercises (going from the lower octaves to the high octave) and play around with your sound a little while looking into a mirror. Listen carefully how your sound changes by either pushing more air from your stomach, or loosening/tightening your embouchure. Make […] Read More...
  • Clarinet “B for Bulls Eye and Both Pinky’s”

    Sharon Paquette Lose | May 12, 2016To 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 pinky’s.   Michel Nadeau Burr Intermediate School East Northport, NY Read More...
  • Practice Stretching

    Sharon Paquette Lose | January 8, 2016Tip: I always start my practice with a stretch of my hand. By doing this, I can play more efficiently and easily with my hand not cramping up. To protect my hand from any strain, I also rub out my hand when I am through. Nicole Reed Bartlett High School Anchorage, Alaska Read More...
  • Playing Tip of The Month: Play it Again!

    Lloyd McDonald | December 11, 2015Play it again! Often in rehearsal, we are quick to stop playing and “fix” something. Many times, simply playing a passage again and getting some repetitions in will “fix” the problem we wanted to stop and work on. Our students can “iron out the kinks” pretty well themselves if we give them the time and […] Read More...
  • Picture This…

    Naomi Crews | November 11, 2015

    Practice articulations by using visual representations. Draw a picture of staccato.

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  • Getting Good Air

    Naomi Crews | October 22, 2015Characteristic 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. Carolyn Ireland […] Read More...
  • A Long Tone Warming Up in Half Steps

    Charles Regier | September 15, 2015

    For a well-rounded tone quality, I am convinced you need to warm-up the band always using long tones from B flat concert and play half steps down to low F concert and back up using half steps. It results in better tone and better tuning. It’s simple, but it works over a period of time.

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  • Fix it in the Mix!

    Mike Lawson | August 14, 2015Reseat string orchestral sections into multiple string quintets. This approach emphasizes listening beyond your section and part while playing in an ensemble. It can also be a smooth introduction to conductor-less chamber music. Additionally, it’s a good way to check for individual accuracy much more efficiently and more in context than having them play one […] Read More...
  • Breath, Breath in the Air….

    Justin Davidson | July 24, 2015

    When a student is sitting poorly they are able to take in air until their lungs can’t take in any more. To the student, this feels like a full breath of air. We know that once they 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 12 oz. plastic water bottle, which represents their lungs.

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  • Perfectly on Pitch

    Naomi Crews | June 11, 2015

    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. As they do this, the bottom lip should stretch automatically and the chin will go flat. A firm bottom lip and a flat chin are essential for a good clarinet embouchure (especially in the upper register) and this should get your clarinet players making the correct embouchure.

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