11.12.17

Dig A Little Deeper!

Posted in beginners, good musicianship at 5:00 am by Administrator

Dig deeper into your musical knowledge!

Now that you’ve become familiar with the basics of your instrument and music reading, it’s a great time to learn even more. If you’d like to enhance your understanding of music, a good place to start is the Resources Page right here on our Wiley Band website. On the Resources Page, you’ll find links to exciting tools that can help you grow as a musician, like…

1. Online Metronome - A metronome is a tool that keeps a constant steady beat. When you regularly count rhythms and play pieces with a metronome, you’ll develop a strong sense of rhythm and time. Metronomes can be a bit frustrating at times…but they’ll help you learn to lay down the GROOVE when you play!

2. Practice Charts and Tips - If you want to be a great musician, it’s important that you learn to be a great practicer! PracticeSpot is a website full of tips to help enhance your musical practice, and our Practice Chart is an easy way to keep track of what you’re doing in your practice.

3. Instrument-Specific Websites - Perhaps one of the most valuable parts of our Resources page is our list of websites especially for the different instruments in our band. If you want to learn even more about your instrument, check out your instrument’s website for tons of detailed and helpful info!

I challenge you to visit our Resources Page today, and become an even stronger musician!

10.29.17

A Band Parent on the Benefits of Music Education

Posted in parent connections, videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

10.08.17

Why Music Matters

Posted in videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

All band kids and parents should hear this wonderful recording! Here, composer and music educator Jack Stamp shows us exactly why music education enriches the lives of our children. Enjoy!

10.01.17

Music Reading Challenges…And How Parents Can Help

Posted in beginners, good musicianship, helping your child succeed, reading music at 5:00 am by Administrator

Music reading

This week at Lead Mine, our band students are beginning the process of learning to read music! Reading music can be quite tricky for young musicians; fortunately, there are many ways that parents can help make it easier. One great way to help your children is to understand the difficulties they’re facing as they learn to read, and respond to them with encouragement and support. Here are several common troubles that young musicians may have during the early stages of music reading, and ways you can help:

1. “This is too hard! I quit!” For many students, learning to read music is a very difficult and frustrating endeavor. After all, learning to read music is a lot like learning an entirely new language! If your child becomes frustrated during practice at this stage, encourage her to take a 5-minute break and return to practice when she feels more relaxed.

2. Trouble getting through an entire song. One major reason that kids get frustrated with music reading is that they try to “bite off more than they can chew”–they attempt to play an entire song without stopping, but their technique isn’t strong enough to accomplish this quite yet. If your child is annoyed because he can’t play a whole song in the band book, encourage him to concentrate instead on one or two measures. Small steps lead to big improvements!

3. The pieces at beginning of the book are boring, but the ones in the back of the book are too hard. When students begin reading music, the pieces they’re able to play aren’t exactly exciting. However, these simple pieces of music help students gain important musical understanding, skills that enable them to build a strong foundation for future musical success. Even if your child doesn’t enjoy these early pieces, encourage her to practice them carefully anyway. By mastering easy tunes today, your child creates the possibility to succeed at tougher music down the road.

09.29.17

Just for Alston Ridge: I’ve Just Played an Awesome Concert…Now What?

Posted in concerts, practice at 5:00 am by Administrator

I've just played an awesome concert...now what?

So, you’ve just done an excellent job at your first concert of the year–congratulations! Concerts are the perfect time to show off all your achievements in band, and enjoy the fruits of all the work that you’ve been doing. But, during the days after the concert, many band kids find it tricky to balance the satisfaction of the performance with the need to continue growing as musicians. Here are some tips to help you with the transition that happens after a great performance.

1. Bask in your glory. - If you’re happy with your performance at the concert, take some time to enjoy those feelings of success and accomplishment. After all, you deserve it! Take some time to reflect on the work you’ve done, and the results you achieved. You may even want to reward yourself by doing something you really enjoy!

2. But don’t bask too long. - One of the keys to being an excellent musician is constantly striving for improvement. Celebrating your success is very healthy, but only if you balance it by looking ahead toward the progress you can make in the future. Make sure to jump back into your practice habit as soon as you can after the concert, and challenge yourself to play even better than you did at the show.

3. Set some goals. – One of the most helpful things you can do to fire yourself up after a concert is to set some small goals to achieve in your practice. If there are some tunes you’d like to learn in the book, try setting a goal to learn their pitches or rhythms by a certain date. Or, beef up your technique by setting goals for smoother phrasing, more precise tonguing, and more accurate pitches. When you set goals, you give yourself a solid understanding of the results you want–and this understanding can help you figure out how to get where you want to be!

If you’re having trouble getting back into the swing of practice after the concert, please let Ms. Thompson know; she will be happy to help you!

09.24.17

Just for Alston Ridge: Four Easy Ways to Knock Out Stage Fright

Posted in beginners, concerts, great performances, healthy playing, practice at 5:00 am by Administrator

Stage fright

As our first concert of the year approaches, it can be very easy to start feeling nervous. If you’ve got the pre-concert jitters, don’t worry!–nerves are a natural part of performing, especially when you’re just starting out. Luckily, there are many actions we can take to calm our nerves before a concert. Try these four easy tips to help you feel relaxed as showtime approaches!

1. Practice! - Detailed, thoughtful practice is one of the best ways to take the bite out of stage fright. If you practice often and do your very best in the weeks leading up to the concert, you’ll feel much more confident and secure with your music on the big night.

2. Prepare for a smooth concert day. - Even if you’ve practiced well, the way you handle the day of the concert can make or break your performance. If you wait until the last minute to buy concert clothes, forget where your instrument is, or arrive late to the performance, you can be assured that you’ll be a nervous wreck–and you probably won’t perform as well as you could have. Make sure instead that you plan for a smooth, relaxed concert day. Check to see that your clothes fit, and lay them out where you can find them. Put your instrument and music together so that you won’t forget either. And arrive a little early, so that you can get a feel for the stage and have a few relaxing moments with your band friends before showtime.

3. Perform before the performance. - Play for your family and friends, and get all your stage fright out of the way before the concert!

4. Don’t feel like you can’t be nervous. - Many people think that if they’re nervous on stage, they’re doing something wrong. Actually, a little bit of nerves on stage can be a good thing! So, instead of focusing on trying NOT to be nervous, focus on getting out there and doing a great show. Even if you’re scared to death throughout this first concert, the experience will help you learn to manage your nerves and feel more confident at your next show!

09.17.17

Four Steps to Excellent Music Reading

Posted in helping your child succeed, practice, reading music at 5:00 am by Administrator

Music reading

At this point in the year, all our band students are reading musical notation. The beginners are just getting started, learning to decipher the written notes and translate them into correct fingerings and lip positions on their instruments. On the other hand, the already-fluent readers in the Continuing Band are now exploring deeper challenges: new notes, complex rhythms, and accidentals. Even through our two bands are in different places on the music reading spectrum, there is an easy strategy that can help all students strengthen their reading abilities–The Four Steps!

The Four Steps help students make connections among the written notes, their names, and how they’re played. Instead of guessing whether they’re playing the right notes, students who use these steps truly know “the whole story” about the music they play! When your child has trouble with his music, encourage him to isolate the problem spot, and:

Step 1. Count the rhythm.

Step 2. Say the names of the notes.

Step 3. Say the names of the notes, fingering them on the instrument.

Step 4. Play the piece.

Doing the Four Steps can be more time-consuming than just playing through a measure several times; however, it’s also a much more powerful way of practicing! Encourage your child to count for you, or say her pitches for you, in addition to playing her music. The more students practice making meaningful connections with written music, the better their reading–and playing–abilities will be!

09.10.17

Concert Coming Up – What Should I Do?

Posted in alston ridge events, concerts, helping your child succeed, what do I do?!? at 5:00 am by Administrator

How do I get ready for the concert?

It’s hard to believe, but our first concert of the year is coming up next month! For those of us who have never experienced a band concert before, it may be tough to know how to help our children get prepared. Even Continuing Band families may feel a little rusty on concert prep, since we haven’t had a concert in some time! So, here are some easy tips to help ensure that all our band students and families have a great Fall Concert experience.

1. Put it on your calendar! – Right now, please grab your calendar and make a note of your child’s show. Band performances are not optional events; rather, they are vital to your child’s musical education. When you make a commitment to attend your child’s performances, you not only model responsibility for your child, but you also show them that you care!

2. Get your concert clothes ready. – Remember, our students wear a standard outfit when performing. Our young ladies wear a white blouse, black pants or long skirt, and black shoes, and our young gentlemen wear a white button-down shirt, black slacks, and black shoes. To reduce the amount of pre-concert stress, purchase your child’s concert clothes NOW! If your child is in Continuing Band, remember that he or she may have grown since our last concert. Have your child try on her outfit early, so that you know long before the concert if your child needs any replacement clothes.

3. Encourage daily practice. – Nothing blasts away stage fright like preparedness. If your child practices 15 minutes per day, 5 days per week, he or she will be completely prepared to succeed on the concert, and will be more likely to have a fun and memorable experience.

09.03.17

Top Beginner Troubles – And How You Can Help!

Posted in beginners, helping your child succeed, practice at 5:00 am by Administrator

Beginning Band Challenges

The early weeks of Beginning Band are some of the toughest of a child’s musical career. Although students’ musical abilities tend to grow by leaps and bounds during during these early days, there are still some stubborn challenges that can frustrate even the most patient young musicians. Here are some challenges that your child might be facing right now in band…and practical ways you can help!

1. “I don’t want to practice!” - Getting into the routine of practice is a very real challenge for young musicians at this stage of their development. Parents, help your children get into a good practice habit by making practice time a non-negotiable part of your nightly routine–just like homework!

2. Brass players’ notes are too high, too low, or hard to play. - Brass players at this stage may be frustrated with the quality of the sounds coming out of their instruments. This is NORMAL, and will improve with consistent practice! Unlike other instruments whose sound comes from striking a surface or vibrating a reed with air, brass instruments’ sound comes solely from the vibrating of the player’s lips. Many young brass players’ facial muscles simply aren’t strong enough to create a beautiful tone just yet. Help your child by encouraging them to practice daily, and asking to hear some “rude mouthpiece noises.”

3. Clarinet squeaks! - One of the biggest challenges for clarinet players is getting the embouchure (mouth position) and the fingers “just right”, so that the notes come out full, not airy or squeaky. Encourage daily practice, and remind your child about “tight corners”, “fat fingers”, and “teeth on top”.

4. Air Head - Air Head is a common affliction that affects young flute players. Playing the flute requires more air than any other instrument, even the tuba! When a child is just starting to play the flute, he must inhale and exhale a great deal more air than he’s used to, and this can cause him to become dizzy or lightheaded. In the Wiley Band, we jokingly describe this dizzy feeling as “Air Head”! If your child gets air head during practice, encourage her to simply take a few moments to allow the Air Head to subside, and then resume playing. Over time, her body will become more accustomed to the demands of playing, and the bouts of Air Head will become fewer and farther between.

08.27.17

3 Easy Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Band

Posted in helping your child succeed, practice at 5:00 am by Administrator

Drums

Our first week of band is complete! Our Beginner students know their way around their instruments, understand how to play at least 5 notes, and can play their first song, Hot Cross Buns. In Continuing Band, our students have done a great deal of precision work, polishing up their understanding of fingerings, technique, and music reading in preparation for a year full of challenging music. These are great successes for all our students! Now, our job as parents and teachers is to keep that success going. Here are 3 things you can do this week to support your child’s musical growth:

1. Find a place and time for your child to practice. When kids have a distraction-free place and a consistent time to play their instruments each day, practice becomes much easier and turns into a habit!

2. Ask your child to play for you. Even though your child won’t be able to play beautiful songs at this point in her musical development, it’s still important for her to have an appreciative audience. If you don’t understand what your child is doing, ask him to “teach” you–you may learn something about music you never knew, and you’ll give your child a big confidence boost!

3. Help your child with organization. To succeed in band, our children need to bring their music, stands, and instruments to rehearsal. With your child, create a plan to make being prepared for band rehearsal easier!

As always, if you have any questions, please e-mail Ms. Thompson. Have a fun and musical week!

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