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!

09.03.17

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!

08.20.17

Helping Your Child with Practice

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

Want to learn some simple ways to help your child get started with a healthy practice habit? Check out this helpful video from Ms. Thompson’s Better Band Parent Series!