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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Wireless Microphone Tips and Buyers Guide For Musicians

Wireless Microphone Closeup

The use of wireless microphones are now more the norm the the exception, but buying the wrong one or not understanding what you are buying can make an expensive purchase into a disasterous one.  This article explains the differences between various kinds of wireless microphones, gives recommendations for specific uses, and offers a number of tips to help with frequently encountered wireless microphone problems.

Using Electronic Instruments In The Marching Band

Is the use of electronic instruments in a marching band brilliant or blasphemy?  It really depends on who you speak to.  The honest truth though is that as our schools and society change, so too is what our audience enjoys watching during halftime.  While every piece of music heard on the radio uses electronic instruments of some sort the marching band has remained almost exclusively acoustic except for several brave, innovative programs across the country.  In each of these cases the inclusion of electronic instruments has not been a hindrance but a blessing.  Why?  And what can other teachers learn from their experiences?

Fixing Clarinet Sound Problems- Fundamentals, Techniques, and Tips

A Band Rehearsing Featuring a 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.

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