Troubleshooting The Clarinet Section

The ability of the clarinet section to play together with proper intonation can make or break an ensemble. Teaching the clarinet section to play together as a team is a concept that all band and orchestra director strive toward but few can claim success with. We spoke to Dr. Raphael Sanders, Professor of Clarinet at the Crane School of Music SUNY at Potsdam to get his ideas and insight on how to build a solid clarinet section.

Sibelius 7.5 Will Change The Way You Teach Music

Sibelius 7.5 Software Box

Sibelius recently released its new 7.5 version and with it comes some very cool updated tools and features.  If you teach music you owe it to yourself to take a look at this hands on review because it might seriously change the way you teach your classes.  Read on to find out more!

Staff Wars 2 Returns! And It Works On Windows!

Staff Wars 2 Screenshot

I've been a big fan of a program called Staff Wars 2 for many years.  It's basically a video game that helps beginning band kids with drill and practice on their notes and fingerings.  Sadly it wouldn't work with Windows 7 or 8 for several years but now TheMusicInteractive has released an updated, Windows 8 compatible version!  Read on to find out more!


For many years I have been a huge fan of a program called Staff Wars 2 by a group called TheMusicInteractive. It even made it into my High-Tech Low Budget Music Technology Special last year.  This free program for Windows and Mac is awesome for young instrumentalists to help them learn fingerings and practice playing notes on the staff. Basically, a note floats across the screen toward your "shield" and you have to play the correct note on your instrument before it hits it and you lose a life. It uses the microphone attached to your laptop or plugged into your desktop to do it.

For the last two years I have been a sad band director because the old version would not work with Windows 7. Although I could get it to occasionally work in Windows XP Mode it was a royal pain and worked only once in a while it seemed. Just today I decided I would take a look on their site to see if, by some miracle, TheMusicInteractive had updated it and low and behold IT IS DONE!

The new version of Staff Wars 2 runs on computers running up to Windows 8.1 at this time. I tried it on my school Windows 7 machines and it worked right off the bat! Plus, I see that they have expanded their Staff Wars 1 version onto the iPad for $0.99. That version does not have the audio recognition and instead just allows kids to touch the name of the note as it floats by but one can only hope they are planning Staff Wars 2 for the iPad at some point in the future. I'd pay $5 to have that app available anytime to use during lessons without having to crank up the desktop. Think about it guys!

Staff Wars 2 is a FREE download from TheMusicInteractive.com. Be sure also to check out their other excellent paid music education applications available both for Windows and for Mac.

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Tonara's Wolfie for Piano Joins The Practice App Lineup

Wolfie For Piano

Over the last year a number of intriguing online and iPad based music practice apps have come on the market.  I first became aware of Tonara back in 2011 and at the time it was useful but not overly impressive.  Fast forward three years and in walks Tonara Wolfie for all of you pianists out there.  What exactly is Tonara Wolfie and why is it important?  Read on to find out!

Download This FREE Beginning Band Method Book Series

Sound Fundamentals Band Method Cover Image

Here's a nice freebie to start off the new school year!  There are dozens of different beginning band method books out there to purchase, but here is a series that you can download, print, or use on a tablet for free!  Read on to find out more!

 

DCI Semi-Finals Comes To A Theater Near You Aug. 7th

DCI BIG LOUD AND LIVE 11

If you are like me you still remember the old days when PBS or ESPN broadcast the Drum Corps International Finals.  The days of free broadcasts are LONG gone, but these days you can experience the music and the pagentry in a way fairly close to actually sitting in the stands at Lucas Oil Stadium without having to travel or pay through the nose for a ticket.  On August 7th, 2014, in dozens of movie theaters across the country you can pay around $17 for a comfy, air conditioned seat and get to see the show close up from the dozens of cameras that they have pointed at the field.  That, by the way, is an incredible feat in and of itself so if you don't know just how intense of an event this is to setup and choreograph from a technical perspective take a look at this behind the scenes audio/video clip from one of the previous years.

Even though being at a live performance is incredible I have to admit that I like the theater show a lot better than sitting in the stands on a hard bench and in the heat.  Much more comfortable and yet I still get the energy of the crowd sitting around me.  Last year my theater nearly sold out so if you are worried go over to Fathom Events and buy an advance ticket.  If you have ever gone to one of these live theater broadcasts please feel free to leave a comment and let us all know what you thought of it! 

Are you going?

 

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See Who REALLY Directs The DCI Finals

2011 Cavaliers via DCI

Anyone that has the chance to go to the theater to watch the annual DCI live broadcast of the semi-finals knows that the production quality of the video is just as impressive as the corps performances themselves. At any given time when a corps is on the field there are dozens of broadcast crew members running around, manning the cameras, and literally calling the shots of the show that you see. Yet we never get to see them or appreciate just how much work they do to make the show look and sound almost as good as it would be to be sitting in Lucas Oil Stadium watching it live.  Video included below so read on to see it!

 

On Improving Flute Tone

Flute player with music

A very common problem for many beginning flutists is the issue of being able to get a good, solid tone on the head joint but then losing that tone when playing on the fully assembled flute. The frustration that accompanies this problem often makes the already challenging task of learning the initial fingerings even more difficult as the student often cannot tell whether it is their lip or their fingers that are the cause of the problem. To learn how to fix this tone quality issue we spoke to Emily Osby, music teacher at Stevens Point Area Public School District to learn some straight forward ways to help young flutists have a better chance at success.

Free Patriotic Sheet Music Solos For Your Kids

Patriotic American flags

July is nearly here and what a better way to keep your kids (and music students) practicing over the summer than to get them to play a little patriotic music for the family at your next gathering!  Be forewarned, a lot of the composers who wrote many of the most familiar American patriotic songs did not really have beginners in mind when they wrote them.  Most of these pieces are playable by beginners after about one year of training, and whenever possible I rewrote them a bit to make their easy enough for my 6th grade band classes to play.  Here is the full listing of United States patriotic songs that we have available here at MusicEdMagic:

 

Infographic for Encouraging People To Pursue A Music Ed Career

Musics Next Step Poster

How many of you went to college, majored in music, and felt like you didn't have a clue what was going on for the first two years?  Theory?  Aural Training?  What the heck are those things?  As a group we tend to send students off to college woefully unprepared for what awaits them.  As any music major can attest to there is a huge difference between what most of us were taught in high school and what we were expected to learn about in the first few years of college.  Wouldn't it have been nice if someone had REALLY prepared us for what was ahead?  

Someone did!

I'm happy to share this one with all of you as it comes from my very own state music association.  The Iowa High School Music Association released a cool poster infographic titled Music's Next Step that helps lay out the steps a student should consider if they are seriously considering pursuing a career in music education.  Download it, print it, and put it up in your room this fall.  Better yet, have all of your music teachers from 5-12 do the same.  The more that potential music students see this kind of thing the more likely they will be to make some good, informed decisions about the future education and career plans.

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3 New and Cool Online Music Practice and Accompaniment Tools

 

When it comes to interactive online practice solutions you don’t have a whole lot of choices for your students, especially when something like SmartMusic plays the part of the 300 pound gorilla in the room.  But a few online sites are trying their best to make online practice sessions an attractive option for young beginning musicians, and some of them might just fit your particular educational situation.  Here’s a rundown of some of the most recent and promising online music practice applications available.

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