Skill Building

  • Reading notes:  Students should read and play what they see in real time.  If your child is struggling to perform a song break the song into smaller chunks.

    1. Name each note in time.
    2. Practice the fingering or slide position while naming the notes.
    3. Play the song.

    Practice Rule:  If the student is not able to play the song error free…slow down the tempo.

    Rationale:  More time to think about each note, process what to do and react in time.  Speed will come.

    Flutes, Oboes Trombone, Baritones and Percussion should be comfortable playing:  Bb, C, D, Eb and F

    Clarinets and Trumpets should be comfortable playing:  C, D, E, F and G

    Alto Saxophones should be comfortable playing:  G, A, B, C and D

    Warm up should include buzzing on mouthpieces for brass, low and middle tones on the head joint for flutes and crowing on the reed for oboes.

    On the instrument students should begin with long tones.  Each pitch that they know should be played several times for 4 to 8 counts focusing on good breath support, good tone, starting the sound by setting the air behind the tongue and releasing the air in a controlled manner to start the tone.  The air should not escape into the cheeks causing the cheeks to puff out. 

    After long tones students should work on basic quarter note exercises.  We have numbered the first five notes as scale degrees.  1 through 5 (Lowest to highest)  eg. Alto Saxophone:  G is 1, A is 2, B is 3, C is 4 and D is 5

    Examples of Exercises to help with dexterity and control:

    1 2 3 4 5 5 5 Repeated                   5 4 3 2 1 1 1 Repeated                  1 2 3 4 5 5 5 breath 5 4 3 2 1 1 1 Repeated

    1 2 1 2 1 2 1 Repeated                   1 3 1 3 1 3 1 Repeated                   1 4 1 4 1 4 1 Repeated                   1 5 1 5 1 5 1 Repeated

    Any combination of notes will help students build and develop a vocabulary needed to play the songs.

    The students are bright enough to memorize the exercise, but don’t.  Reading music is the goal.  Looking at each note and reading at this beginning stage will help students gain the skill to read when things get more complicated.  To get the most from this portion of practice students should be looking at each note while playing it.