Great Trumpet Performances – Maurice Andre

Posted in great performances, videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

Maurice André was a French trumpet master who lived from 1933-2012. Mr. André began studying trumpet with a family friend, and then joined a military band so he could attend conservatory for free. After only six months at the conservatory, he won a prize for his playing. He went on to perform thousands of concerts and create over 300 recordings as a trumpet soloist, and his work helped establish the trumpet as a solo instrument.

Here is a website with more info about Mr. André.


Great Saxophone Performances – Marcel Mule

Posted in great performances, videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

Marcel Mule was a French classical saxophonist who lived from 1901-2001. Throughout his career, Mr. Mule was well-known as a masterful performer and an extraordinary teacher. In addition, he composed, arranged, and premiered many compositions for saxophone, greatly expanding the number of pieces available for future saxophonists to play.

To learn more about Mr. Mule, click here.


Great Clarinet Performances – Sabine Meyer

Posted in great performances, videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

Sabine Meyer is a renowned clarinet soloist from Germany. She began taking clarinet lessons as a young child, and made her solo debut at age 16. Since then, Ms. Meyer has performed with symphony orchestras and chamber groups all over the world.

To learn more about Ms. Meyer, please visit her website.


Common Practice Mistakes – Part 3

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

Practice Mistakes!

Welcome to Part 3 of our series about things NOT to do in your practice! Last time, we talked about two big practice pitfalls–lack of focus and ignoring our problems. Today, we finish out our series with two very common practice troubles: one-way practicing and always starting at the beginning.

6. One Way Practicing
One way practicing means what it says; we use only one approach in our practice, like playing a piece over and over. Sometimes the best practice we can do isn’t necessarily playing–it may be counting, fingering, or drilling ourselves on note names. If we’re having trouble with rhythm, counting may be the best solution. If we get lost in our music, going through and saying our note names may help us find our way. One Way practicing is a one-way ticket to frustration, but using different approaches in our practice gives us extra freedom and makes practice more productive.

7. Always Starting at the Beginning

This is a trap that is extremely easy to fall into. When we start at the beginning of a piece every time, we end up knowing the first few bars very well, but barely touching the rest of the piece. This approach also keeps us from fixing trouble spots, because always starting at the beginning keeps us from isolating problems in other parts of the piece. Fixing this problem is as easy as starting in a different place. We can start in a random place and see if we can play it, or start right on a troublesome spot. When we start in different places, we get to know the piece from different angles. And the more we know, the better we play!

Are these problems plaguing your practice? Try doing the exact opposite of these troubles this week, and see what happens! If you need help making your practice more effective, be sure to talk to Ms. T; she’s happy to help.


Great Flute Performances – Sir James & Lady Jeanne Galway

Posted in great performances, videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway are two of the leading flute players of our time. Both musicians perform all over the world, and devote a great deal of time to helping young flute players through workshops and masterclasses. To learn more about them, please visit their websites:

Lady Jeanne

Sir James


Common Practice Mistakes – Part 2

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

Practice Mistakes!

Welcome to Part 2 of our series about things NOT to do in your practice! Last time, we talked about the dangers of practicing too little and not practicing consistently. Today, we tackle two big problems–lack of focus and ignoring our problems.

4. Unfocused Practice

One step above pseudo-practice is unfocused practice. This is like practicing on autopilot–we don’t think about what we’re doing or keep track of where we are in our music. As a result, we miss chances to fix trouble spots, and end up not knowing our instrument very well. When we focus on our notes, keep track of how our hands are moving, and make the effort to subdivide, it’s possible to practice half as long and accomplish twice as much. (And, we can use the time we save to do other things we enjoy!)

5. Ignoring Your Weak Spots
It’s no big deal to have weak spots as a musician–we all do! But when we ignore these weak areas, we can severely cripple our playing. If we have trouble with reading music, playing along with a CD won’t help us very much. If scales are tough, not practicing them will only make them harder. We become great players not just because we practice, but because we work on every aspect of our playing, even the stuff we’re not good at.

Are either of these blunders showing up in your practice room? If so, what are you going to do this week to practice in a more healthy way?


Common Practice Mistakes – Part 1

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

Common Practice Mistakes!

In band class, we talk often about how to practice…but did you know that it can also be helpful to learn how NOT to practice? In this 3-part series, we’ll present several not-so-good practice habits that you’ll want to stay away from!

1. Practicing Too Little
The #1 mistake people make with practice is practicing too little. If you feel stuck in your playing and are frustrated that you’re not improving, you may want to ask yourself how much you’ve been practicing. Often, you’ll discover that you’re not improving simply because you’re not putting in enough time.

Learning to play music is like getting to know a new friend; if you don’t devote enough time to either pursuit, you’re not going to get very far. Practice creates results but it requires time and effort; there’s no shortcut to learning an instrument.

2. Inconsistent Practice
Practice produces the best results when we do a little bit every day. Practicing 5 hours one day and then taking a week off is about as helpful as feasting on Monday and eating nothing the rest of the week! Just as eating regularly keeps us well-nourished, practicing regularly helps us stay in shape and retain what we’ve learned.

3. Time-Wasting Pseudo-Practice
Practicing is work, and often, work is the last thing we want to do. When we feel lazy, it can be tempting to engage in timewasting pseudo-practice. In pseudo-practice, we try to look like we’re working hard when we’re really not. We might polish our horn for 15 minutes to get it “just right” before playing, practice with the television on, or organize our music instead of practicing. These activities may fool our parents into thinking we’ve practiced, but will they help our playing?

Have any of these poor habits showed up in YOUR practice? If so, try doing their opposite instead! You’ll end up with much less frustration in your life…and a lot more musical progress!


Delivering a Polished Solo Performance

Posted in good musicianship at 5:00 am by Administrator

Greetings, band students, and welcome to our third post designed to help you give an outstanding solo performance on your instrument! Today, we share 6 things to do on the day of your performance to make everything run smoothly.

Before the Show:
1. Warm up at home. You never know if a venue will have places for you to warm up comfortably–there may not be as much privacy or space as you’d like. So, take a few minutes earlier in the day and warm up at home. This will be one less thing to worry about once you get to the show.

2. Arrive early. When you get to the venue a few minutes early, you give yourself the luxury of time–time to calm your nerves, check out the performance area, and get ready to play.

During your Performance:
1. Walk on stage confidently, and pause before you play. The way you take the stage can add a lot to your performance. Walk onto the stage with excellent posture, and smile at the audience. When you look at the audience, think of how wonderful it is that all these people came to hear you, and what a great musical treat you’re about to give them! Before you play, pause for a few seconds to make sure you feel comfortable and ready to go. There is no need to rush into your first note–relax and enjoy yourself!

2. Recover! If you mess up, keep playing, and act as if nothing happened. Remember, the only person who can see your music is you, so nobody will know if you’ve made a mistake. That is, unless you stop playing and make odd faces at your instrument.

After You Play:
1. Smile and take a bow. Applause is the audience’s way of saying “Thank you” for your performance, and a bow is your way of saying, “You’re welcome!” Smile at your audience and savor this moment. You did it!

2. Graciously accept compliments. After the show, people may come up to you and compliment you on your playing. If this happens, smile and say thank you! You can even add a kind comment like, “I’m glad you enjoyed it,” or “Thanks for coming today.” Compliments are like gifts–make sure you receive them with open arms.

Try using some of these simple actions at your next solo performance. You may find that they make the day much more fun, and help you look like a seasoned performer…even if this is your first time taking the stage on your own!


Winter Lip Care for Young Musicians

Posted in healthy playing at 5:00 am by Administrator

Winter Lip Care

For wind and brass players, the condition of our lips can make or break our day in band. Playing is fun when our lips are soft, supple, and responsive…but dry, cracked, chapped lips can make playing feel awful! In the winter, we have to do a little extra work to protect our lips from the cold, dry air. Here are 4 things you can do to keep your lips working well all winter long.

1. Drink lots of water. – Winter air doesn’t just chill the outdoors; it also dries out our lips and skin! One of the easiest ways to combat this is to drink plenty of water. Keeping your entire body hydrated helps keep your lips hydrated as well.

2. Don’t lick! – Licking your lips may make them feel moist for a minute, but as the air dries the saliva off your lips, they actually end up being drier than before. And dry lips are more likely to chap and split…ouch!

3. Save your chops. – If you need some moisture on your lips, try using a great lip balm, like Chop Saver. Chop Saver helps your lips stay well-moisturized, and is full of herbs that can help your lips recover after a long practice session or band class.

4. Practice! - Believe it or not, practicing is a great way to heal and prevent chapped lips. Playing stimulates bloodflow to the lips, and can help scrub off dry, chapped skin. Unless your lips have chapped so much that they’re split and bleeding, playing is a good idea!


Preparing for a Successful Solo Performance – Part 2

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

Playing Solo

In our last post, we discussed some ways to get a strong start on preparing pieces for a solo performance. Today, we’ll learn three things every soloist should do as the show gets closer.

1. Work on style. When you’re in the early stages of practicing a solo piece, your focus tends to be on playing correct rhythms and pitches. But audiences don’t come to concerts to hear pitches and rhythms–they come to hear MUSIC! As the gig approaches, spend more time in your practice working on articulations, dynamics, phrasing, and style. Experiment with different ways to play the notes and rhythms you’ve learned, or even try to communicate specific feelings or ideas through your playing. As you add style and feeling to your piece, you’ll discover a great deal about yourself as a musician; plus, you’ll create a performance that’s exciting and memorable!

2. Record yourself. – Often, what we hear when we play is very different from what the audience hears. When you record your playing, you allow yourself to hear your sound from the audience’s perspective. As you listen to a recording of your playing, you may uncover mistakes you didn’t know you were making, or realize that you’re doing some things better than you thought. Once you hear exactly what you’re doing, it’s much easier to take your playing to the next level. You don’t need an expensive studio setup to record yourself; a small digital voice recorder from Wal-Mart or Target can work very well.

3. Set up some performances. – Got pre-show jitters? One of the best ways to calm your nerves is to perform often, and get used to how it feels. Play your solo for your family or friends, or ask Ms. T if you can play in front of the class before your actual performance. Doing practice performances helps you know what to expect when you play solo in front of an audience, so that playing the actual show is much easier and more fun!

Next week, we learn how to get up on stage and deliver a great solo performance. See you then!

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