Texas Bandmasters Association 2010: Miscellaneous Thoughts Day 2 & 3

1173710__3This week, I went to San Antonio for the Texas Bandmasters Association convention. I attended some really good sessions and took a few notes on my iPhone. Without spending a lot of
time to expand on these notes right now, I thought I would post them so maybe someone else can benefit from them. After the convention, I’ll sit down later and flesh them out a bit more. Here are the notes from Days 2 and 3.

  • Meet with parents prior to testing 5th graders
  • Parent orientation at beginning of year 4-6 weeks into school year
  • Take a class period to discuss procedures
  • Teach basic reading skills and introduce counting system early (8th notes asap)
  • Open cases on the floor – Respect the instrument
  • Take up headjoints and mouthpieces early. Ziplock bag with name, give it back after a couple of weeks when they know hand position
  • Thumb touches the flute at 3-4 o’clock between fingers 4&5
  • Thumb is perpendicular to flute
  • Flute thumbnail is toward the ceiling
  • Clarinet thumbnail pointing toward chin
  • First finger (LH) is the key to playing the clarinet
  • Clarinet LH thumb at 45 degree angle. Teach three positions.
    1. Hole only
    2. Hole and register key
    3. Register key only
  • If they can’t talk with their embouchure, there’s too much bottom lip in their mouth
  • Take in as much mouthpiece as you can without spreading the sound
  • Flute gymnastics
  • Suspend the flute, don’t hold it
  • Flute vibrato // steady air, faster than steady air
  • Saxophone vibrato with jaw // steady air, slower than steady
  • Brass teach hand position second
  • Don’t squeeze brass embouchure. If they get air only on mouthpiece, it’s okay. The key is that lips touch teeth
  • “do not let the bottom lip get wet from the top lip”
  • “make sure the bottom lip is standing tall”
  • Wait on articulation until they can all produce characteristic sounds. Start with saying it. Then say it into mouthpiece. Then blow air without mouthpiece. Then blow air with mouthpiece. Finally add horns
  • Have them tap shoulder instead of clapping. They feel it more, less coordination issues, can hear counting better
  • Count in your head while you play
  • Fingers in the air – show your brain
  • Basic priorities for beginning band
    1. Characteristic tone
    2. Proper hand position
    3. Music reading skills
    4. Good work habits
    5. Good concentration skills
  • If wrong notes/rhythms/articulations are enough reason to stop a band, so are tone quality problems
  • Breathing: “HOW” (in) “TO” (out)
  • Listen to individuals more. Even for short passages.
  • That’s a good concert F, but I want a high definition version. Try again…
About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

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