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Playing Tips

  • 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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  • Keep it Warm

    Naomi Crews | May 18, 2015

    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. All in all, this could be 10-15 minutes of the most important time spent at each rehearsal. Everything done during this time period will transfer to other portions of the rehearsal.

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  • Essential for Embouchure

    Naomi Crews | April 7, 2015

    David Snyder of Illinois State University in Normal, IL presents this month's Playing Tip.

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  • The Sound of Silence

    Naomi Crews | March 9, 2015

    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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  • “Use the Force” For Quick 
Knowledge Assessment

    Michel Nadeau | February 19, 2015

    To get all students involved and to quickly assess their knowledge, I will pose a question and have students close their eyes when they have the answer. I will then ask them to raise their hand when they hear the correct answer, or I will have them show me fingers for beat counts, et cetera. Doing this allows me to quickly get feedback on their retention and cuts down on written tests.

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  • Teach Me Bass Guitar Now Available For Download and Streaming

    Naomi Crews | February 10, 2015

    Since 2009, Roy Vogt's Teach Me Bass Guitar (TMBG) has been acknowledged as the world's best course of self-paced bass guitar instruction, and it's now available in two formats - download/streaming and the traditional, award-winning 10 DVD package.

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  • Sing the Chord!

    Angelo Kortyka | January 26, 2015

    Brought to you by EPN Travel Services

    When tuning a chord, have students sing the chord, then bring the instruments up to their face and play the chord after a breath. They will quickly see the difference in intonation and adjust accordingly, if they are listening.

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  • Paying Tips: Zip Tie that Triangle!

    Kurtis Koch | December 9, 2014

    I have seen too many triangle clamps with incorrect ways of supporting the triangle. Sometimes there is only one hole on the clamp for the support to pass through. There needs to be two holes in the base of the clamp. That being said, try using a small zip tie to connect the triangle to the clamp. It’s durable and doesn’t muffle the triangle sound. Be sure not to make the zip tie too tight or it will rub against the clamp.

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  • Playing Tips: Keep the Tips Close

    Dennis Johnson | November 23, 2014

    To ensure young percussionists are playing with their stick beads close together, take a quarter or a fifty-cent piece and place it directly in the center of the drum head. Then take a pencil and trace a circle around the coin so your students can see the circle when they start to play. Instruct them to play within the circle. This will train them to play with their stick beads close together. This produces a more consistent sound on the drum. You can also draw a circle toward the front edge of the drum head for softer playing zones.”

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  • Articulate Your Tuning Pitch

    Eliahu Sussman | October 18, 2014“When tuning, lightly articulate your tuning pitch a few times. Not only will this allow you to hear if you are above or below the reference pitch more easily, but it also ensures that you are in tune at the attack and not relying on embouchure or air adjustments to stay in tune.”   Michael […] Read More...
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