As the basic education system and fine arts programs across the nation are being cut from both public and private schools, many students are missing great opportunities to find themselves. This is mostly due to a lack in funding in the school district, but also a declining interest among parents and students. But in all honesty the rewards of these programs outweigh the cost of them in my opinion.
As mentioned in a previous article,The end or beginning of real musical talent? students do much better socially, academically, and spiritually when they truly have a passion and talent that cannot be replicated.
So the question is how do we maintain the passion to further not only their skills, but the students themselves? Looking at my own personal experience with music education and the organizations that help me get where I am today, I put together some info that parents as well as students themselves can use to help find their true calling.
HOW DO YOU GET INVOLVED?
- Encourage your child to be very careful with his/her instrument and school instruments. The cost to repair a horn is expensive.
- Keep the instrument in good repair, especially with reeds, etc.
- Help him/her with practice by counting, studying music parts.
- Arrange a time for your child to practice.
- Show an interest in the music study of your child
- Teach your child to be prepared and on time for each rehearsal and lesson.
- Private lessons are not required, they are recommended.
- Regularly attend all activities. This will show you unconditional support!
- Encourage your child to play for others when the opportunity arises in the home, school, church, and community.
- Notify the Director if the student is going to be absent or tardy for a rehearsal, etc., and explain why.
- Keep a record of the student’s musical activities/calendar
- See that he takes his instrument,mouthpiece, or sticks to school.
- See that your child keeps up all of his/her academic classes and makes up the work missed.
- Visit rehearsal and lessons occasionally.
- Discuss with your child’s teachers anything that will help him/her understand your child better.
- Attend concerts and other performances as often as possible. This will show you unconditional support yet again.
- Attend Band Booster Meetings as often as possible.
- Volunteer for parent committees and fund-raisers where you feel you can help out. (Cooking, sewing, writing grants, etc)
This next piece of knowledge is for students:
Your parents spend a great deal of time, effort, and money (remember money does not grow on trees!) helping you pursue your interest in this instrument. Show them that you really want this and the added benefit of including them in your journey. When parents feel included, they will feel better knowing that all this was 100% worth seeing you grow to your true potential.
My family, especially my Father, had such dedication to seeing me and my Brother grow in our own unique talents to be best we can be. Because of their unwavering support, we are not only good at our talents, but better people. I cannot image what my life would be like without music.
So students, do these tips to get awesome and be awesome:
Daily Instrument Exercises
All students should practice at home or after school at least an hour a day. Personal practice & playing of the individual parts lays the foundation for the nations most successful high school bands.
This part of your daily playing is the most important part, therefore use it with great care.
- Don’t play high
- Don’t play low
- Don’t play loud
- Don’t play soft
Play in the middle registers, mezzo forte and gradually extend the register and dynamics as your lips and embouchure begins to respond with agility and flexibility.
Strive to master all phases of your instrument not just one part, or the part that you already do best. Work for progress and get results.
The “Big 4 Do’s” for focus during a practice session:
- Do work to increase breathing capacity & support.
- Do work to develop embouchure strength & flexibility.
- Do work to increase strength and speed of fingers.
- Do work developing tonguing abilities.
Each day, attempt to strengthen your breathing technique and gain better control. Attempt to strengthen your lip muscles to gain endurance in your playing (long tones are excellent). Attempt to strengthen your finger muscles for better, dexterity and control. (A good metronome is a must. Keeps tempo steady if you need work on it.) Attempt to strengthen your tonguing muscles to gain control, evenness and speed (in this order, never speed first).
Other Phases (To be covered as needed)
- Range (brasses espy).
- Altissimo exercises (clarinets)
- Lip Slurs (brasses)
- Chords (broken arpeggios)
- Flexibility Exercises
- Sight-reading skills
- Tonguing: Double/triple (flutes, brasses)
- Expansion of Rudiments (percussion)
- Literature (solo/ensembles)
- Investing in recordings of artists that play your instrument, as well as others
So parents and kids, be patient and supportive. But most importantly be loving. Let your talent be nurtured. This will help build their character. Plug in to your local school, after school music programs, or start your own. Churches and houses of worship also are great places to meet other great musicians. Anything! Just get out there and play.
You never know what they can achieve if you don’t start somewhere.
As always play well and play on!