s
Musical Resources
Should Your Beginning School Band Student Take Private Lessons?

The quick answer is YES! Private instruction is when a student is able to work one-on-one with a professional musician, the private teacher is able to work more in depth with the student on their instrument. Students will get help with developing a more professional tone on the instrument, fundamentals of playing their instrument correctly with better technique and help with a set of goals that will help your student excel on their instrument. Of course, the student must do their part and practice the lessons and assignments that the private teacher assigns to the student. Over the years, we know that when a student studies privately, they will improve as a musician. We have never witnessed a student become a worse musician when studying privately. What could be easier to help your student improve on their instrument by taking lessons?

How to Help Your Child Choose a Musical Instrument to Study

From WikiHow

The ability to play a musical instrument is a wonderful thing, and you can never start too early. Children are curious and imaginative by nature, and many will be able to pick up music very quickly, and develop a love for it. The ability to play an instrument and read music will be infinitely helpful later in your child's life, and studies have shown that music can help make a child smarter, develop giftedness, more mature, and more confident. If they're not yet out of elementary school, a good musical background will help them to succeed in middle and high school bands, setting an example for all of their peers.


Step 1: Set an example and motivate your child

If you have any musical talent, play your instrument in front of your child, and answer their curious questions. Let them experiment with it (within reason really young children probably shouldn't be messing with your oboe, especially unsupervised). Talk about your days in school band, how much fun you had back when you took piano lessons, and other things that will pique their interest. Take note if they show a particular interest in a certain instrument.


Step 2: Expose your child to music

Start early - when your child is very young, play quiet music for them and let them fall asleep to CDs of classical music. Once they're older, take them to school and professional concerts, and point out certain instruments. You can also listen to music or watch videos of concerts together. Try to teach them to "feel" the music, and take note of the many things going on at once. Get into the habit of playing classical music in the background when you read, sew, or do something else relaxing. Try to teach them to "feel" the music, and take note of the many things going on at once.

Step 3: Talk to them about music lessons

Forcing your child to learn an instrument, or signing them up for lessons without telling them first, is not going to help foster the love and commitment to music that you want your child to develop. If you had any success with the previous step, they'll probably be eager to start. Ask if there's a particular instrument that they'd like to learn. They may want to try the same instrument you play, or they may say "I don't know", in which case, proceed.

Step 4: Look into your options

If your child is going into middle school, check to see what kind of band and/or orchestra programs are offered. If they're in elementary school, check and see if some of the older grades have a music program. Many elementary schools teach recorder, which is a great starter instrument. Some schools may even offer piano or guitar classes. Otherwise, what lessons are available in your area? To find music instructors, you may want to ask a band director or member of a local band or orchestra.

Step 5: Help your child choose an instrument

You'll want to take several things into consideration... among them, your child's commitment to music (it's possible that they'll lose interest next week... maybe it's not the best idea to go out and buy them a sousaphone), their size (don't give an 8 year old a tenor saxophone, as they won't be able to hold it or support it), and maturity (perhaps the most expensive instrument isn't a good idea, if it'll be in danger from reckless behavior). Once you've got a general idea of what you might be looking for, take them to a music store or arrange for them to meet with a band director to try a number of common "starter" instruments - these are as follows:

Recorder - The recorder is commonly thought to only be for beginners, but is in fact a professional instrument (listen to recordings of Piers Adams, Dan Laurin and Michala Petri). Basic plastic recorders are fairly cheap, and should be purchased for beginners instead of wooden ones, which usually cost hundreds of pounds if they are good quality.
Clarinet -. Bigger and somewhat heavier, but fairly easy to get a sound on and operate. From the clarinet, many students switch to other instruments, such as bass clarinet, oboe, or bassoon.
Flute - Another common instrument in concert bands, the flute can be fairly easy to learn. Keep in mind, however, it can be pretty hard to get the first tone out of a flute, and your child may be discouraged if it takes days or weeks to get it right. Advanced, dedicated flute players may have the opportunity to move up to the piccolo someday, usually after four or five years.
Keep in mind, if you start a very young child on flute, they may need a curved, or J-shaped head joint. A flute with a straight headjoint is about two feet long, and that can hurt small children's shoulders if they play holding it up for a long time. A J-shaped headjoint is shaped like the letter J and takes about 6 inches off the length of the flute. When they're ready, they can graduate to a regular, strait, headjoint. Some student flutes come with both a straight and curved headjoint.
Alto Saxophone - When most people say "saxophone", they're referring to the alto sax. It's the most common saxophone, and is of a size that can be handled by many different ages of people. From the alto sax, students often switch to other sizes of saxophone, such as the soprano (smaller), the tenor (somewhat larger), and the baritone (even bigger than that).
Trumpet/Cornet - The trumpet is a common brass instrument, and the cornet is a smaller instrument that is very similar. Both are popular with beginners and experienced players alike.
Trombone - The trombone is another common brass instrument, that is unique from the others in that it uses a slide instead of valves.
Baritone/Euphonium - These two instruments are often described as "small tubas", and some music programs believe in starting children on baritone or euphonium before switching them to a full-sized tuba. The main difference between the two is that the euphonium has four valves, but the baritone only has three.
French Horn - The French Horn is said to be a more difficult brass instrument to learn, so the choice to start a student on one from the start or to start with another instrument and then switch is usually up to the band director or instructor.
Percussion - Percussion actually refers to many different instruments - drumset, snare drum, timpani, keyboard percussion, auxiliary, and plenty of others, depending on what you can buy or what the school offers.
Violin - The violin is the smallest instrument in the violin family, a popular instrument among younger children who wish to be in an orchestra program.
Viola - The viola is similar to the violin, but a bit larger, has a lower pitch, and plays on a different clef most of the time.
Cello - The cello is a low, bass string instrument, played in an upright position, as opposed to under the neck.
Step 6: Buy, borrow, or rent an instrument
Once you've made a decision. Many music stores offer a rent-to-own program, which may be your best bet if you're not sure your child is dedicated to the instrument yet.

 

Step 7: Encourage your child to practice

Once they've started taking lessons or practicing with a group, the best way for them to excel at playing is to practice for at least half an hour or so every day. Don't be too harsh about forcing them, but make sure they understand how important it is to practice. Encourage and motivate them, and be sure to congratulate them when they do something exceptionally well.

As your child gets older and more mature, they might want to take up a second instrument, and become a multi-instrumentalist. If you think they can handle it, let them give it a try. Although they can't play both instruments in the same orchestra, they could play their current instrument in the band and just take regular lessons on a different instruments.

Be reasonable when helping the child choose an instrument. If your child could fit into the case, or the instrument is twice as tall as they are, you might want to go a little smaller. You also don't want to pick a rare or less heard-of instrument, such as a contrabass clarinet or mezzo-soprano saxophone. Instruments like these will be hard to find, even harder to find music for, and may be practically impossible to find a teacher for, and most band programs don't have a place for them. Why let them learn the contra-alto flute, only to find that they'll have to switch to a concert flute when they start playing in school.

Stereotypically, flute players are obnoxious, self-centered girly girls. However, there are plenty of successful male flute players, and most females aren't nearly that bad. Trumpet players are said to be big-headed, obnoxious guys, and have a general "I'm better than you" attitude", as well as egos that can be seen from space. Don't listen to this - girls can play the trumpet too, and there are plenty of nice trumpet players with much smaller egos. The list goes on. Although in every section, there may be a few players who conform to such stereotypes, most of the blanket statements just aren't true. Or fair.  Avoid stereotypes and the old standards. There's no rule that says your child should learn the violin, or that you have to force them to take piano lessons until they're teenagers. Many children learn to play other instruments such as the tuba or oboe as young children. Perhaps that kills some of the common stereotypes of child musicians, but if they do well with it, stereotypes should be the last thing on your mind.

 

Choosing An Instrument For Your Child

I have to tell you–I’m THRILLED to hear those questions, because it shows a parent who a) understands how important music is and b) shows me that this is a parent who really cares about the “choice” of instruments, rather than just going along with a whim, or…what the neighbor’s kid takes! So, where to start?

First — AGE. Not all instruments are appropriate for all ages.

Ages 4 – 8

In this age group, typically the instrument selection is developmentally narrowed down to:

Piano
Violin
Viola
Cello
Guitar

Why those instruments?

Piano is always a great “first” (and last!) instrument. Since the piano keyboard is set up exactly like the musical staff, it makes learning notes and understanding music theory very intuitive and natural. PLUS, you learn how to read both the Treble Clef (high sound) and the Bass Clef (low sounds). So, if your child ever wants to try another instrument, they can choose just about any of them and already know their language.

String instruments come in several sizes. This doesn’t affect the notes they play at all, nor does it affect the “positions” of the fingers. It simply shortens the instruments to various sizes appropriate for different arm lengths. So, remember: if you DO choose a string instrument, you must bring your child to the rental place to be “sized.” Don’t go “eBaying” an instrument — you’ll usually waste your money.

What about Brass and Woodwind instruments at this age? Usually out of the question, as they take a much larger body to blow through all of the tubing, and better embouchure (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embouchure) in the jaw/lips/mouth/tongue. Not to mention they can be pretty heavy! Sure, most kids could lift those instruments (except perhaps a tuba!), but lifting for a few seconds, versus lifting for at least 30 minutes while blowing through the instrument AND putting fingers in the right place — that is a totally different thing altogether. Now, before the woodwind teachers shoot me down, I DO realize that some kids may start with a piccolo before going to flute (and the piccolo is about 1/2 the size of the flute).

After Age 9

Pretty much anything is available. Once the children are in 4th grade (about 9-10 years old) the world opens up to them. That is why most schools don’t offer band til that age — the instruments are just not developmentally appropriate for the majority of kids before that age.

Special Concerns for Voice Study
I’ve had some parents downright MAD at me for not being willing to teach their 5-year-old a private singing lesson. I know that other music schools will do this, but MusicMakers will not. Now, if you want to pair piano with voice (what we call a piano/voice combination lesson), that’s different — no more than about 15 minutes of voice for the children under 10 years old is appropriate. And, take it from a vocalist, it is virtually impossible to really learn to read music and understand music theory without an instrument. Voice alone, as wonderful as it is (and it is!), just won’t cut it. Too abstract, need to put your fingers on something!

Why not so young? A lot of people want to sing, kids are very innately musical, and love to sing around the house, in the car, etc. Well, that’s great, and I strongly encourage this in my own children, as well. But, starting formal lessons TOO young can be detrimental to your child’s singing voice, not to mention a waste of money.

Beware of the Flute – Trumpet -Saxophone -Violin Conspiracy
Ok, there’s really no conspiracy. BUT, you’d think there was, just looking at the numbers of kids who choose one of those instruments. My theory is that they choose those instruments because they’ve been exposed to them A LOT and probably have a friend (or two) who plays it. There’s nothing wrong with choosing an instrument because a friend plays it, IF AND ONLY IF the child actually enjoys the sound. But, again, go with what the child feels naturally drawn to (by ear, not by peer pressure)

The Case for Percussion!
When I was in 4th grade, I was SO excited at the prospect of studying drums in the school band and orchestra (we were lucky enough to have both). I had finally, FINALLY, talked my mother into letting me write “percussion” on the form that the music teachers sent home. And, I went on to become a fabulous percussionist (didn’t you know?)….NOT. Nope, this was the 1970s and the two (male) music teachers looked at this very shy, pigtailed, plain little girl and handed me a clarinet! STILL want to take the drums. (gee, it would be so nice if I had instant access to really talented music instructors, like, for instance — owning a MUSIC SCHOOL!). Yeah, I really need to fulfill that dream!!

Getting back to YOUR child — I LOVE the drums, and love percussion instruments in both band and orchestra. However, in most cases, its not the best place to start. For similar reasons to voice, it is just pretty hard to learn to note read and train your ear melodically and harmonically on just the drums. Piano is a percussion instrument — do some piano, do some drums, and be a double threat!

Getting a good “read” on your child’s preference
So, what is a parent to do if they want to get a good “read” on their child’s instrument preference? There are a few things you can do:

  1. Call a local music school and see if they are open to you bringing your child in to sit in on some lessons featuring different instruments. We do this all the time at MusicMakers, and it works very well. The child might just hear something that strikes them as “wow!” and voila — you’ve got your instrument
  2. Call your local high school and ask to come sit in on a band or orchestra rehearsal.
  3. Look at the website of your local orchestra. They often have a family series where you can actually watch a rehearsal, or attend a dress rehearsal. The tickets (if any) are usually pretty inexpensive, and you’ll get to hear pros play!
  4. Go to my favorite orchestra website: http://www.nyphilkids.org. There is a plethora of information about instruments, including fun games and graphics. Also, check out my friend John Bertles’ instrument lab to better understand how those instruments work.

And, the Dallas Symphony has a wonderful kids’ webpage with links to hear each instrument.

Again, when in doubt — take piano! It is NEVER a waste — all transferable skills! Any questions, or need some specific help? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reply personally!

Thanks for reading!

Paula Penna, International Academy  http://ow.ly/ApjdB 

From CNN: Picking The Right Instrument For Your Child... Tuba or Flute?

Tuba or flute? Picking the right instrument for your child 
Music educators use body type and personality to determine best instrument for a child
Experts look at how outgoing a child is, lip size, height to make best match
Best advice for parents is to first let the child decide what he or she wants to play
Researchers say music training turns kids into more effective learners

(CNN) -- Most parents are probably so focused on just getting our kids to play an instrument that we don't give much thought to the question: "What's the right instrument for my child?"
Quite honestly, on the list of things I'm supposed to keep in mind as a parent, I never knew such a question existed. Until now.


Ron Chenoweth is the band and orchestra division manager for Ken Stanton Music, a Georgia-based music education company with nearly 100 teachers providing more than 1,000 lessons every week.  Part of Chenoweth's job includes managing a team that regularly goes into schools to help band directors determine what instrument each student should play. Two things he and his colleagues are always looking at are body type and personality.  

Best instruments for kids who like center stage
If a child likes to be the star of the show, Chenoweth might steer the child to the flute because flutists tend to stand in front of the band.  "I look for the kid that's smiley, happy, sometimes talkative, rather than just very, very quiet," said Chenoweth, who has been with Ken Stanton Music for 16 years. "They usually are asking questions and they'll say, 'Well, I want to do this because ... ' and so they're telling you their story.  Other instruments for extroverts, Chenoweth says, are the saxophone and trumpet.  "They tend to be lead instruments, whether a jazz band or a show band. They play that higher melodic part, and these kids tend to be almost uncontrollable at some point," he said with a laugh. "But they just are very outgoing. You don't really see the quiet ones go that way."

How body type factors in
Physical characteristics can determine the best instrument for a child too. Take the bassoon, for example, which isn't ideal for small kids.  "The bassoon, when assembled, is almost 6 feet tall, and the spread of the finger holes is ridiculous," he said.  Someone with very small lips might be better suited for the trumpet or French horn, while someone with larger lips might have trouble playing those instruments, according to Chenoweth.  "The cup size of a trumpet or a French horn would be too small, and they wouldn't actually be able to produce a good sound," said Chenoweth, who played the French horn in his high school and college marching bands and has been involved in music education ever since.  "And then sometimes you're surprised. ... Somebody you thought 'Oh, they'll never get the sound out of this trumpet,' and away they go."
I asked Chenoweth what personality and physical attributes might lead to success with other instruments:
• Oboe: An important trait for mastering this "very intricate" instrument is "above average intelligence," according to Chenoweth.  

  Tuba: An excellent choice for students with larger lips, he said.
• Trombone: The player's front teeth should be even. "You want a nice bite that shouldn't be in need of orthodontia," he said.
• Violin: Kids can start playing as early as 2 to 3 years old. "I think because they have varying sizes, it makes them rather universal," said Chenoweth, who started playing the clarinet in the fourth grade.
• Piano: Long fingers or large hands are desirable, and so is being a good thinker. "Physically they're going to need good dexterity with their hands," said Chenoweth. "You would probably look for a propensity to something analytical, somebody who might show a little bit of inquisitiveness."

 

Let them play what they want to play


Even before you start assessing whether an instrument matches your child's personality, or if they have the right body type for success, you should let your child be the guide, Chenoweth says.
"My first thing is you have to get them onto an instrument that they first are interested in because if there's little interest in playing it, there will be the same amount of success -- very little," he added.
Try not to push them to play what you played, said Chenoweth. "Private lessons at home with the parent are not necessarily going to be successful," he said with a laugh.
And always try to be supportive, even when it just might not be music to your ears.
"We all know that the sounds are not going to be great," said Chenoweth, but parents should try to stay positive. That means avoiding comments such as, " 'Oh here we go. Here's something new to try for three months and then you're going to give it up. Are you ever going to pick something that you're going to stick with?' "
The importance of music education in schools   Why music matters
Dr. Nina Kraus, professor of communication sciences, neurobiology, and physiology, and the director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, has been studying the impact of music training on a child's cognitive development for almost a decade. Her extensive research has been published in more than 200 journals and media publications.
Defining a musician as someone who plays music twice a week for 20 minutes, she and her team compare how the brains of musicians and non-musicians respond to sound and the impact music playing has on the musician's attention, language, memory and reading abilities.
"The same biological ingredients that are important for reading are those that are strengthened through playing a musical instrument," said Kraus. "The ability to categorize sounds, to pull out important sounds from background noise, to respond consistently to the sounds in one's environment ... these are all ingredients that are important for learning, for auditory learning, for reading, (and) for listening in classrooms."
Her findings, she said, have a clear message for policymakers and parents.  "It's not just about your child becoming a violinist," said Kraus, a mother of three whose children all played an instrument growing up. "It's about setting up your child to be a more effective learner for all kinds of things."
And the benefits continue even after a child stops playing, says Kraus.
"The brain continues to profit long after the music lessons have stopped," she said. (To visualize Kraus' extensive research and comprehensive findings, check out her slideshow.)
If my girls weren't already signed up for music lessons this fall (we're starting with piano!), I'd be signing them up today.   http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/09/living/parents-kids-body-type-music-instrument/

How to Clean Your Brass Instrument - Give It A Bath

We can clean it for you which is included in the maintenance plan if it's on our rent-to-own program.  A bath might be what it needs.  Here's the directions for that.

  1. Find a bath big enough to comfortably take your horn and line it with an old sheet or towels. (This prevents damage to horn and bath.
  2. Fill the bath with lukewarm water.
  3. Remove all slides, mouthpiece and any other moving parts from the horn.
  4. Submerge the horn completely in water and press down all valves to open them (just a couple of times, you don't need to keep them down.)
  5. Leave the horn for an hour to around three hours (only if it is an instrument that hasn't been bathed in a very long time, or if the valves are stuck down.)
  6. Get a snake to clean the horn. While the horn is soaking, use a pull-through (snake) to clean out all your slides in a separate sink. If the pull-through is too wide to get round the bends in the slide, don't force it. It will get stuck and just cause damage. Use a mouthpiece brush to clean out your mouthpiece just now as well - no point in blowing all your mouthpiece gunk down into your nice clean horn!
  7. Finish cleaning. When bath-time is almost up, put your pull-through through your lead-pipe (from mouthpiece end to tuning slide) and then use either the end of your pull-through or a similar smaller brush to clean out all the valve-slides.
  8. Remove your horn carefully from the bath and tip all the water sitting inside of it out. You should be able to hear any water sloshing around inside but if you are having trouble getting it out try depressing all the valves and tipping the horn round 360 degrees towards the bell - any water should come out of the bell!
  9. Dry the horn. After making sure you have gotten rid of any water sitting in the valves, lay your horn on some towels or another clean sheet to dry. Remove any surface water with a clean cloth or towel and then leave the horn, preferably in a room with some circulating air for a few hours to dry out.
  10. Wait a few hours then tip your horn out again to remove any water that has settled.
  11. Pour some low-viscosity valve oil down the slides into the valves, and oil all the bearings and rotors.
  12. Re-grease all slides and replace them.