A New Look At Teaching Beginner Clarinetists

Clarinet Pieces On A Table

Unless you have been playing it your entire life teaching a beginner to play the clarinet can be a challenge. Lesson books can help, but the vast majority of lesson books used these days in a public school band setting are ensemble books that by nature have to progress in a certain way. In a new article over on the Vandoren reeds website clarinet pedagog Paula Corley she goes through a step by step progression of concepts that she uses with her beginners.

Review of the A.P.E. Anti-Pressure Brass Embouchure Exerciser Tool

The APE Anti-Pressure Exerciser

I’ve had the chance over the last few weeks to play around with a variety of tools from Warburton USA, a manufacturer of cool brass instrument related gadgets and practice tools.  This week I’m looking at the Anti-Pressure Exerciser (The A.P.E.) and how it can be used as a teaching tool or for general practice on the trumpet, French horn, or tenor trombone.  What exactly is the A.P.E. and why should you consider getting one to use with your students?  Read on to find out.

Why Buying Digital Sheet Music Is A Bad Idea

Digitally Printed Sheet Music

Digital sheet music as is currently being sold by several sheet music publishers and vendors is at its core a great idea.  Unfortunately, the biggest publishers are all missing the boat and implementing it in a way that provides absolutely no added value for the added costs to the consumer.  While the digital versions of books and such add value to the title by offering easy portability and flexibility for the reader this is not the case with most commercially available digital sheet music.  But this is only the start of why music publishers are missing the boat and doing both themselves and their customers a disservice.  Read on to find out more.

Trumpet, Trombone, and Tuba Buzzing With The Buzzard

Buzzing on your brass mouthpiece is an essential part of improving as a musician leading to stronger, clearer tone quality and better intonation.  Yet buzzing on a mouthpiece alone is at best only a fair representation of how it feels to actually play on the instrument.  Without the instrument there is no real air resistance.  For experienced players this isn’t a big issue but for beginners trying to learn to buzz properly that little bit of resistance helps immensely in letting them get the buzz going and focused.  Enter the Buzzard, a simple yet incredibly useful little device that can help you get your students buzzing and sounding better and with less frustration.


Improve Brass Buzzing With The BERP

BERP Brass Embouchure Resistance Piece

Every music teacher knows that the prerequisite of becoming a good sounding brass player is being able to buzz your lips accurately and with a good tone.  Buzzing on a mouthpiece alone is the easiest and most straightforward method, but more goes into playing a trumpet, trombone, or tuba than just buzzing alone.  There are these annoying things called fingerings that require almost as much attention as the buzzing. That’s where the Buzz Extension and Resistance Piece (BERP) comes in.  The BERP lets a brass student practice buzzing at the same time as they work their fingerings.

Avid Releases Free Version of Pro Tools Digital Audio Workstation

Pro Tools First Screen Shot

The use of digital audio workstation software (DAWS) such as Pro Tools has been becoming more and more popular over the last few years.  New alternative music education classrooms are embracing the ease with which it can foster the creativity of our students in new ways.  The big problem for most schools wanting to incorporate a DAW product into their curriculum or classroom activities has been cost.  Now Avid has done away with that limitation by releasing a free version of Pro Tools, known as Pro Tools First.

Improve Beginner Trumpet Embouchure With The P.E.T.E

The P.E.T.E. Embouchure Trainer

Do you have a trumpet or trombone player that can’t play high notes?  Maybe they can’t get a good solid tone because of lack of strength in their facial muscles?  Are they frustrated?  Read on to find out how I solved this problem for many of my beginning band students using a cool little practice device called a P.E.T.E.

More Effective Rehearsal Techniques

A Concert Band Rehearsal

The length of the average concert band rehearsal can vary greatly from school to school. While some schools may be blessed with ninety minutes of rehearsal each day, many others must make due with as little as an hour a week (or less). When your ensemble is on the short end of that range it is very important that you make good use of each and every minute of your rehearsal. We spoke with Randall Coleman, Associate Director of Bands at the University of Alabama to get his advice on how to structure and manage rehearsal time to make it more productive for the entire ensemble.

Recommended Trombone Solos and Recordings

Jazz Trombone Player

One of the best ways to help yourself improve on the trombone is to listen to trombone music recorded by the greatest trombone performers available.   By listening to professional recordings of trombone music you can begin to understand what your ideal tone should sound like.  This list of free trombone music recordings has been developed through research of the most popular pieces from dozens of trombone music listening lists.  The music list below also includes recordings of many highly recommended performances as well as links to the various trombone artist's homepages and biographies.

Audio Software For The Classroom Or Home Recording Studio

Audio Editing Software Screenshot

Setting up and using a digital recording studio in the classroom requires some very specialized software.  While it is true that you can do it on the cheap with a very basic audio recording program like Audacity to really produce high quality recordings, work with multiple instruments, or simply to teach your students the skills necessary to prepare them for a job in the audio industry after graduation you have to use something a little more advanced.  Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) programs are the next step up for many users and there are many of these programs on the market.  But there is more to setting up a DAW system in your classroom than simply grabbing the first piece of software that comes to mind.  To have the best experience you have to balance the needs of the software with the capabilities of the hardware you intend to run it on.

Music Room Sound Systems Buying Guide

Sound System Mixing Board

The sound systems used in most music rooms have changed greatly over the years.  The cassettes of the 80’s and 90’s gave way to CD players and now are transitioning to solid state and streaming media in the form of MP3 players and computer based audio applications.  The next ten years will be even more digital as we continue the trend away from the CD and onto other media like SD cards, hard drives, and online cloud storage services.  Making informed and intelligent purchasing decisions now can help make sure that whatever audio system you invest in today will still work well with the technology of tomorrow.  Consider these tips and suggestions when planning any new audio technology purchase for your room.


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The personal weblog of Chad Criswell, MusicEdMagic Webmaster.
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The blog of Larry Marra, music educator and publisher of the Music Teachers 911 Podcast.
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Matthew Warnock's guitar blog.

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