Breathing Exercises to Build Endurance In Brass Players

Photo by highwaystarz

One of the keys to having a good brass sound is to also have a good air stream.  We spoke with Dr. Ramon Vasquez, assistant band director at Lopez High School in Brownsville, Texas to get some tips on encouraging proper breath support in young musicians.  As one would expect diagnosing the problem is his first step.  Says Vasquez, “I begin by listening for the quality of the sound.  If it is small and not as resonant as it could be, I look into how much of their capacity they are really using.  I then start some exercises

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Music Practice Apps For Student Musicians

If there is one thing that every musician needs more of it’s practice time.  In the first years of a musician’s training getting the student used to a regular, effective practice routine is essential to long term success.  Technology has come a long way in recent years toward helping us achieve this goal by providing us with a large number of useful software titles and mobile apps that can help us practice in a variety of different ways.  Whether you are looking for an app that actively listens to and assesses a student’s performance or a simple app to track a student’s practice time you will find many different options both for desktop computers and for mobile devices.  

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Music Technology For Special Needs Students

Photo By Skoog Music

Including students with disabilities into a traditional music education classroom may seem like a challenge, especially when the class is very performance oriented such as in a band, orchestra, or general music setting.  With the effective and well planned use of technology, a motivated teacher can help any student at any functional level become a part of the music making process.  

NAfME has made an effort to emphasize this fact through the new national standards, writing them with universal design for learning in mind.  Adapting to almost any disability is often as simple as finding the right tools to meet the needs of the specific student, and such accommodations need not be incredibly expensive or complicated to use.

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Voice Amplification In The Music Classroom

Make no mistake, by the very nature of being music teachers our classrooms tend to be very noisy places.  Whether you teach vocal, band, orchestra, or general music, the number of students that we deal with combined with the equipment that we make use of adds up to a lot of ambient, extraneous noise that students must mentally filter out in order to hear and understand the teacher.  For most teachers raising our vocal intensity and projecting more forcefully is a subconscious and automatic method for dealing with this noise.  We find ourselves speaking more loudly in order to be heard.  Over time however, and under the right circumstances,  pushing our voices too hard can cause potentially irreparable harm to the vocal cords that are so vital to our very careers.

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2016 Big List of Music Education Resources

This page is a reference document for a presentation given at the Iowa Music Educators Conference titled No! You Can't Call It A Hashtag!- Music, Technology, and Teaching Outside the Box by Chad Criswell, Band Director at Southeast Polk Community Schools.

The many music education products and services listed below are those that I have personally used or that I have learned about through my many years of interviewing music teachers for my position as technology writer at NAfME's Teaching Music Magazine.  Whenever possible links to the original articles that ran in the magazine have been provided.  This page will be kept updated as new apps are added throughout the year.  


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Music Education At A Distance- Videoconferencing Technologies In The Music Classroom

Video Conferencing Computers

The explosive growth of the use of video in the classroom has changed the way many of us could teach our lessons, but when using YouTube or other online instructional video sources the information usually flows in only one direction.  Videoconferencing opens up the opportunity for teachers to have truly interactive conversations and lessons with their students by connecting their classroom with other students, other teachers, and professional performers from all over the world in real time.  We spoke with NAfME members Heather Mandujano, Distance Learning Education Coordinator at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, OH, and Dr. Fred Rees, Professor of Music in the Department of Music and Arts Technology at Purdue University in Indianapolis, IN, to discover what the current best practices and opportunities are for connecting our classrooms to a wide variety of musical opportunities.

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Is Marching Band A Sport? Pros, Cons, and a Reality Check

Bluecoats Marching Band

In recent years the question of whether or not marching band is a sport has been brought up time and time again for various reasons and by various groups.  On one side you have the YES crowd who says that marching band is competitive, physically demanding, and every bit as much a team event as any traditional sporting event.  On the other side of the coin are those who say no, that marching band is NOT a sport and it is a musical pursuit that happens to involve coordinated movements.  Both sides are right, but to make a final decision we need to look deeper into the facts.  Read on to find out what they are!

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The Best Tech Tools That I Use In My Music Education Classroom

An old phonograph turntable.  Not an example of what I use these days.

Last week I had the opportunity to present a session for the Heartland AEA's monthly Technology in the Classroom program.  While the room was rather slim for music teachers in particular (the mornings sessions were dedicated to fine arts and PE in general) I still got a bit of a laugh when people realized what the title of the presentation meant.  I called it "No! You Can't Call It A #Hashtag!"  If you don't get the joke just think about it for a bit. :)  

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A Review of StaffWars Live for iPad and iPhone

StaffWars Live Screen Shot- iOS

As anyone who reads my blog knows I am an avid fan of the StaffWars note ID training software products made by  I’ve used their PC/Mac versions for years, and was happy when a few years ago they came out with an iOS version of Staff Wars.  I was always hoping that they would also come out with a new version of StaffWars 2 which added the ability to have the student actually play the note on their instrument rather than just touching the answer on the screen.  Now they have released StaffWars Live which brings this live performance oriented feature onto the iPad and iPhone.  Mostly...  Why do I say mostly?  Read the rest of this review of StaffWars Live to find out. 

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The Best Free Music Editor Apps For PC 2016

Free Music Editor Screenshot- ProTools

Once you have your music recorded the job has just begun.  Very rarely is a recording perfect the first time, and even when it may seem to be a good one there are always things that can be tweaked a bit in a music editor app.  Luckily there are dozens of different audio editing programs to choose from, but here we are going to focus on what most people in the industry consider to be the best free music editor apps for the PC.  Read on to find out more. 

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