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EPN Travel Services proudly presents: The Playing Tip of the Month!

Enter your warm-up, rehearsal, performance, or teaching tip for a chance to win a special prize from EPN Travel Services!

Winning Playing Tips will be published in School Band & Orchestra magazine.

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.

Read more: Essential for Embouchure

Characteristic 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.

Read more: Getting Good Air

Brass players warm up on your mouthpiece only. Play descending major arpeggios chromatically in whole notes from tuning Bb to as low a pedal tone as you can. After a quick rest, begin an ascending arpeggio pattern from low Bb concert to as high as you can without changing your embouchure. Tone, range and endurance will improve. Takes about 10 minutes.

Read more: 10-Minute Brass Warmup

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!

Read more: The Sound of Silence

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.

Read more: Keep it Warm

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 Chapstick.

Read more: Essential for Embouchure

“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.

Read more: To ‘daah’ or not to ‘daah’

Quick knowledge assessment: 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.

Read more: “Use the Force”

Don’t start playing until you are ready: both mentally and physically set to commence.

Read more: Ready, Set, Go!

Imagine a story as you perform, whether the music at hand is an étude, a concerto, or a set of scales.

Read more: Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River…

Directors who make a Difference

For over 20 years, School Band & Orchestra Magazine has been honoring amazing music educators from all 50 states. That's more than 1000 educators recognized for their outstanding contributions to music education programs!

Do you know a fantastic K-12 instrumental music educator who is deserving of recognition in SBO? Tell us why he or she should be featured in SBO’s annual "Directors Who Make a Difference" report.

Click here to nominate a director 

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