Grade 8 band


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by Amber Aitchison - Friday, 16 October 2015, 8:45 PM

Many thanks to the parents whom were able to meet this week for interviews. It was wonderful to touch base and keep the lines of communication open! All parents are encouraged to contact me if you have questions/concerns/comments throughout the school year. I am best reached via email:


This year I have done away with practice cards (for now) as I felt it wasn't always an accurate representation of time spent reviewing the material learned in class and didn't always correlate with a student's understanding of musical concepts.

Does that mean Mrs Aitchison doesn't want kids to practice outside of classtime?!

Absolutely not! Students SHOULD PRACTICE regularly outside of class time, alone or with friends to further refine the skills needed to become proficient instrumentalists.

How much practice each week?

I realize families are busy, I too am a mother to three very busy kids. Homework, clubs, lessons, and sports take up many afternoons, evenings and weekends. It can be daunting to fit in yet another activity to remind kids to complete after school and work when we are exhausted.

My suggestion, students should practice frequently rather than for long periods of time to develop those motor skills, eye-hand-coordination, and further strengthen their embouchure (mouth muscles). Ideally 20 minutes 3-4 times each week.

What does practicing look like?

3rd year musicians will:

-quickly set up their instrument,

-5-10 minutes make some warm up mouthpiece noises (brass buzzing, percussion-rudiments), followed by scales, thirds, chords, and triplets from the technic sheet we started this week

-15-20 minutes working on their concert pieces (Arrival at Normandy, Along the Beaches of Normandy, and Welcome Christmas, - recordings on the Soundfiles tab on the Band Webpage). We have reviewed "How to Practice and Sight Read New Music" in class. When a student identifies a tough musical passage:

1.Write in counting

2.Clap the rhythm

3. Sizzle the rhythm

4 Sizzle with fingers

5. Play on one note

6. Play as written (slowly, then after able to play correctly gradually increase the speed to the right tempo)

7. Play 3X correctly and put into context of the piece (potty training...the kids know what I mean by this makes them laugh, but works every time).

-after they are done, students will spend time cleaning and caring for their instrument. Making sure the valves/slide is oiled (trumpet, horn, trombone, baritone),

*remove and dry the reed (clarinet and saxophone),

*swab out the moisture (flute, clarinet, saxophone),

*release the water key (trumpet, trombone, baritone, horn),

*and place the instrument carefully back into the case (all instruments).

How do I make this fun...and not another chore?

*Bring a band friend over for a playdate and ask them to practice together.

*Have family or company over? Encourage your budding musician to put on a mini concert. And don't forget to applaud their effort as they will possibly be nervous and make some mistakes.

*Lastly, put on the soundfiles on the band play along with and understand how their part fits into the bigger musical picture.