Friday, 31 January 2014

Making Practice Routine!

Things to Remember this Week
Clinics with Dr. Lonis
Perry and Grant Road Grade 7's - 9:20-10:20 on Tuesday
Massey, Grant Road, and RCS Grade 7's - 9:30-10:30 on Wednesday
Grade 8's 10:35-11:35 on Wednesday

Congratulations to all students participating in the Regina Public Schools Jr. Select Band this weekend!

In Grade 6 Band
The grade 6's are coming along and there are some very nice sounds!    We began working on the third chapter this week.   At the start of this chapter we reviewed 3/4 time and began to explore 2/4 time.   We will continue to work through our books.  Most students were assigned the last two lines on page 18 and the first line of page 19.

In our sheet music we have made huge improvements.   This week we worked on creating a steady pulse.   There are many tricky parts in our sheet music and sometimes we go at our own pace instead of  the same pulse as the group.  (This meaning, the hard stuff we slow down in, the easier things we try to rush through!)   Students were encouraged to try playing with a metronome or the metronome app.    We got a little stuck still in our "B" section or measure 27-43 in Courtly Dance and Procession.   In Gentle Winds we need to sustain our notes.   It is quite hard to hang on to our notes and move exactly together.   We concentrated on measures 19-end and will work on the opening measures next week.  There really are some nice sounds, we look forward to hearing what next week will sound like!

In Grade 7 Band
We have continued to work our way through the Orange Book.   Students were asked to pay close attention to all the articulations that are marked in the exercises that we have been doing.  We have been  emphasizing subdivisions.      Many students get off in their rhythms because they are not subdividing.  We worked hard on this during this past week.   We will be continuing in the Orange Book on Page 5-6.   Students are encouraged to practice with a metronome or using the metronome app.

In our music we worked on measures 20-end of Cathedral.   We worked on staggered breathing and playing long tones with decrescendos.    In Prelude et Celebration we mainly worked on measures 27-49.   We focused on articulations, and dynamics.   Students are asked to practice 1-49 of Prelude and measures 1-21 of Cathedral.

In Grade 8 Band

Weekly playing tests are continuing.  The next one is on measures 58-74 of Amen.  This is one of the most difficult passages in the entire piece.  All of our students' hard work is starting to pay off.  The piece is really starting to come together.  The key to practicing this next section is to take it REALLY SLOW!  Once the moving parts are correct at a slow tempo then we can start to gradually pick up the tempo.

This next week we get the honour of having Dr. Lonis work with us again.  This is especially good because we get to show him how we improved on what he taught us in the fall when we worked with him.  And we will get to see him again at Optimist so we can take it to another level again!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Congratulations and Moving Ahead!

Things to Remember:
-Junior Select Students bring your Consent and Waiver and $15 to Junior Select Band on Thursday afternoon

Congratulations to all Jazz Band students on a job very well done at Balfour on Wednesday night!

Grade 6 Band
This week in Grade 6 band we finished up the second chapter in our book.   We reviewed accents and we learned or for some students reviewed a new note.   This note is low note.   Students who had not experimented with the lower registers of their instruments were quite surprised with the extended range of their instrument and how different it felt to play low.

We continued to work on our sheet music.   We learned about musical form this week.  We learned what ABA form was in music and how this can help us with our practicing.   Students quickly saw how similar measures 1-27 and 43 to the end in Courtly Dance and Procession.  We also saw how different measures 27-43 were.  We concentrated our efforts on the "B" section (measures 27-43) this week.   Some students began writing compositions in ABA form.   In Gentle Winds, we have begun the actual piece.   At the bottom of this piece of music there are "musical jumpstarts."  We have concentrated on these until we had a feel for 3/4 time.

This week some students began figuring the notes out for the James Bond Theme.   Students who did not get the notes for James Bond this week will get it next week.  We again circled in books what to practice.   Most students have the first three lines on Page 18 circled.

Grade 7 Band
We continued working on dotted rhythms this week.  We have been encouraging students to try practicing with a metronome or to try the metronome app.    We have been encouraging students to subdivide.  We are finding many students want to rush through longer notes.

We continue to work on tone by playing long tones at various dynamic levels and practicing crescendoing on each tone.    Students have also been encouraged to make sure they have fingering charts with them as we work our way through some new notes in some of our sheet music.

We concentrated on beginning to 27 of Prelude and Celebration and measures 20-end of Cathedral.   We also began a little bit of work on the aleatoric section of Pandora.   This is a section of music that is not written in measures, but rather by seconds.   Students are asked to practice m1-27 of Prelude and 20-end of Cathedral.  

Friday, 17 January 2014

Back into the Routine!

Things To Remember
-Jazz Students, please bring $5 for our Jazz night at Balfour
-Please make sure your name is on all band books.  (We have found a couple and do not know whose they are!)  

Jazz Students
Schedule for Wed. Jan. 22
4:00 - Meet at Balfour
4:00-5:30 - Master classes
5:30-6:00 - Pizza
6:00-7:00 - Big Band
7:30 - Concert

Grade 6 Band
The Grade 6's this week continued to work on different types of articulations, and continued to work on 3/4 time.    We have discussed musical form and how this helps with practicing.   Many Grade 6's were quite surprised to learn that after we had learned measures 1-27 in Courtly Dance and Procession, we also basically knew measures 43 to the end.   This is because this piece is written in an ABA form.   We began a little work on measures 27-43.   Students were asked to practice these measures.    In Gently winds, we continued to work on the musical jumpstarts at the the bottom of the page.   We also had a little fun creating the sound effect of a "gentle wind."  

This week we also learned a little about dynamics.   Students demonstrated piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, and forte.   The majority of students agreed it is more difficult to play soft than loud.   We tried playing some "pick up" notes as well this week.  (This is when a piece does not start with beat one.)    We again circled in books a few practice lines.   Most students were asked to practice the first two lines of page 14.   The first line on this page includes a new note.   We have played it before, but not named it.

Grade 7 Band
The Grade 7's this week continued their work on articulations.   All students have been playing out of the orange book.   If you have had difficulty getting the orange book please let me know.    Grade 7's have also been reviewing dotted rhythms.   In our review of these rhythms we seem to have been a little stuck on specifically dotted quarter notes.   We practiced by playing, clapping and counting  this rhythm with a metronome.    In our book we will be moving on to page 4 next week.

In our sheet music we have worked on measures 49 - end of Prelude and Celebration.   We will begin work on measures 1-27 next week of this piece.  (This is the tricky part!)    Students also have worked on measures 29-end of Cathedral.   We will be working more on this piece next week.    Students also received the piece Pandora.   Many are anxious to begin this as it has several sound effects that are quite fun to play.   We will begin some work with this next week.  

Grade 8 Band
The Grade 8's have begun their playing tests on the circle of 4ths for memory as well as the first 9 measures of Amen.  Those who have finished the playing test now have measures 10-42 of Amen to practice for their next playing test.  Practicing is essential for this piece to work and students are quickly realizing that they need to put in some time to learn their parts.  Remember to practice smartly...don't just play something over and over again without a goal.  Your time is valuable so set achievable goals and make small improvements.  These small improvements will add up in the long run.  Have a good weekend!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Things to Remember
-Jazz Band students - Jan. 22 Jazz night
-Junior Select Band students - Bring forms to Select Band

Back Into the Routine
Happy New Year to everyone!    This week for all band students was about getting back into the routine.   Students were reminded that if they did not practice over the holidays that they would probably feel sore after playing their instrument this week.   Students were reminded to get some practice in on their instruments so that they re-build their muscles and quickly get back to where we left off.

Grade 6 Band
In Grade 6 Band we began new sheet music.   We began working on Courtly Dance and Procession, and Gentle Winds.   Both of these pieces have very specific challenges for students.   We worked figuring out different styles of notes.   We names and played staccato notes, agogic accents, tenutos, and as we called them "normal" notes.   As we began figuring out our sheet music we did it in this process.   We first clapped the rhythms, we then played the rhythms on our concert Bb note, we then aired it, and then we began trying to play - SLOWLY!    We stressed to Grade 6's that learning music slowly is important so that we get all the right notes and rhythms first.  

As we worked on Gentle Winds, we worked on a new time signature.   We learned 3/4 time.   Students were told that when we play in 3/4 time, we always go back to one right away.   This makes sure we do not leave gaps in our music.  We tried waltzing and some of us even composed a 3/4 song on the spot.  

This week we also reviewed our note tree, and learned that a dotted half note in 4/4 or 3/4 time gets three beats.   We spent a fair amount of time learning that a dot beside a note makes the note longer, a dot above or below a note makes the note shorter.    Most students are about on page 13 of their books. Students were given a couple of lines that circled in their books to practice.

Grade 7 Band 
All Grade 7's this week began work in the Second Measures of Success Book (The Orange Book).   If students do not have this book, they were asked to pick up a copy at either St. John's Music, or Long and McQuade.   Please call first to make sure the instrument type book is in stock.   If students are unable to get a book, please let us know.

We have been working on note types this week.  We have specifically been concentrating on "agogic" or accented notes.   We have learned that it is one thing to play it as an individual, but an entirely different thing to be able to do it as a group!   We have also begun work on our Concert C scale.    We have begun working on Prelude et Celebration and Cathedral.   These will be the two pieces we will be performing at Optimist festival.

Some of the Grade 7's have been asking about music apps.     We have suggested if they have their parents permission, they may want to download "pro-metronome."    This is a metronome app that is free.   There are some fingering apps available as well, however, the ones we have found so far cost something.   We will keep on the look out for free ones.    Until then, one student suggested downloading a fingering chart and importing it into ibooks.   We have not tried it yet, however, this student has done this successfully.   If students come across useful music apps, they are asked to please let us know so that we can let others know!

Grade 8 Band 
Grade 8's should begin working on our two pieces for Optimist Band Festival.  We are having a playing test on our circle of 4th's for memory next week and also the first 9 measures of Amen.  Amen is a very difficult piece and students are reminded that practicing needs to happen if we are going to be able to play this piece in time.

The other piece we are working on is African Marching Song.  This piece has been fun to play and students should practice this piece keeping their eyes on the rhythm.  There are lots of syncopated rhythms in this piece and the melody keeps repeating but with slight variations in the rhythm.

So if there is a theme to this week's message it's practice practice practice!