12.03.17

Use It, Don’t Lose It! How to Maintain Your Practice Over the Holidays

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

Winter Holidays

The winter holidays can be a great time to kick back and enjoy relaxing with friends and family. However, if we forget to include practice in our holiday plans, it can be all too easy to lose all the musical skills we’ve worked to develop this year in band! Here are four things you can do to keep your playing polished over the holidays.

1. Perform often. – Many of us spend a lot of time with friends and relatives over the holidays. Why not share your musical talents with them? Pick a couple of your favorite band tunes and perform them for your relatives; they’ll definitely appreciate it!

2. Try your hand at teaching. – If you have cousins or out-of-town friends who are close to your age, see if they’d like to take a music lesson from you. When you teach others what you know about counting rhythms, reading music, or making a sound on your instrument, your musical skills grow stronger as well.

3. Count, Finger, and Say Pitches. - If you’re traveling over the holidays and aren’t able to bring your instrument along, make sure to bring your book! Even if you can’t play, you can use your book to count rhythms, quiz yourself on pitches, or even practice sizzling and fingering through new songs.

4. Work toward goals at home. – If you’re staying home, the holidays can be a great time to get ahead as a musician. Try setting some goals for pieces you’d like to be able to play by January, and practice your pieces each day. With a few minutes of daily practice, you still have plenty of time to enjoy your vacation, but you’ll also sound awesome when you return to school!

11.19.17

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

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:15 pm 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!

An Attitude of Gratitude! – How to Be a Thankful Musician

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

Be grateful!

As growing musicians, we spend much of our time trying to get better at what we do. We’re always striving to break our bad playing habits, learn new things, and become better at our instruments. Although it’s important to focus on making progress, it can be equally important to sit back and truly appreciate where we are on our musical journeys. With Thanksgiving coming up, try taking some time to think of some things you’re grateful for as a musician. You might just play better as a result!

Being grateful doesn’t just help your playing; it can bring you less stress and better health as well. According to psychology professor Robert Emmons, “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress.” In addition to being less stressed, grateful people also tend to be more optimistic, a trait that has been shown to boost the immune system. For musicians, less stress and better health can lead to stronger, more confident performances, less worry about bad playing days, and more productive practice. So how can you reap all these wonderful benefits? Bringing more gratitude into your life is as simple as shifting your perspective. Here are five easy ways that you can be thankful for the way you play.

1. Be thankful for your progress.
Look back in your book and play a song that you did several months ago. Remember when it was hard to play? Now it’s easy, because you kept on practicing and working hard! Take a minute to smile and enjoy the things you’ve accomplished during your musical career.

2. Be on the lookout for little things to celebrate.
Major progress isn’t the only thing you can be grateful for. If you nail that tricky spot in measure 5, that’s something to celebrate and be thankful for. If you play a gorgeous note, take a second and express your appreciation.

3. Give thanks for your body and mind.
As musicians, we ask the tiniest muscles in our body to do very complex, precise things, and we train our brains to be able to juggle a number of processes at once. Think for a minute about how wonderful it is that your body and mind can do these things, like buzzing your lips to create exact pitches, playing different rhythms with each of your arms and legs, and reading music with ease. Reflect on how cool it is that we can train our bodies and minds to make beautiful music.

4. Turn a bad day around–appreciate your losses.
Nobody likes having a rotten playing day, but even bad days offer things to be grateful for. If you get some feedback in band that you don’t like, you can turn it around and be thankful that you can use that feedback to grow. If you’re having a bad playing day, be thankful that this isn’t how you sound on a good day! Often, when we find something to be thankful for, we can see humor in a bad situation, and even learn from it so we can do better next time.

5. Be grateful you’re a musician!
Musicians are unlike any other kind of people. We have the ability to tell stories and express the deepest, most powerful emotions in a way that words cannot. As a musician, you share a common bond with great artists throughout history, from the ancient drummers of Africa to Mozart to Alicia Keys. Few people have the discipline and dedication to be musicians–and you DO!

When you practice appreciating your musical abilities, you may find that progress comes more quickly and playing becomes more fun. Think of something you appreciate today–it’ll help you enjoy the way you play!

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!

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