Showing posts with label ed lisk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ed lisk. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Easy Way to Teach Scales

Forget playing the scales, I used
to get this way just teaching them.
It was my first year of teaching. I had a heterogeneous beginning band class, and I was ambitious enough to include horns, giving me four different pitches of instruments to contend with when note naming. I wanted so badly for them to have as many scales as we could get, or at least get them up to the scales they needed for the All-District Band Auditions they would face the next year. So I pushed. But every time we started a new scale, it was a nightmare. Going one group at a time, grinding out the notes, checking the fingers, it took forever. And even with my best efforts, nearly half the group would play wrong notes. I wish I knew now what I knew then. There is a much, much easier way to teach scales to beginners!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Building Beginners Through Sound Before Sight

The first several weeks of Beginner Band are crucial to the over all success of the students. These kids are often required to learn two skills at once, both of which involve multitasking - playing and instrument, and reading music. I had heard for years about the idea of Sound Before Sight, mostly as an elementary pedagogy but also by some as a beginning band method. My earliest attempt at this was missing some key components that ultimately resulted in a slower start to reading and playing, and less progress over the year. This year my friend and I worked together to develop a comprehensive curriculum that would both train the students on the basics of playing while simultaneously building them up for reading and playing. The two classes who got the full treatment are currently having better success than anything we've experienced, while the class that didn't get all of it is still struggling on the literacy end. Hopefully there's something in here that will give you ideas for your own Sound Before Sight curriculum, as having one that is effective can definitely make a big difference for your students!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Six Tactics to Improve Intonation

Your ear is the final judge, but it
doesn't hurt to have one of these
on the stand.

One of the most illusive pursuits is that of ensemble intonation. There were at least a handful of things that helped us and continue to help us improve in that regard. When the year started, all my band knew about tuning your instrument was that the previous director marked all of the slides etc. where they were supposed to be set, and if you left it there it meant you were in tune. Can you believe that? So we practically started from scratch. I doubt I'll get through everything in one post (entire books are available on the subject), but here are a few key tactics that I think got us on the right track.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Four Fun Tricks to Align the Band's Pulse


One of the biggest things I've had to do with my band is work to align the ensemble's pulse. Even once the quarter notes lined up, often eighth notes across the band wouldn't line up properly. Sometimes it's just that players aren't agreeing on how to shape the ends of notes, but just as often is can be a lack of subdivision. You can explain subdivision and tell them to subdivide, which is better than nothing, but I've found that getting them to externalize it and then referencing that is more helpful, and more fun. So here are a few ways you can try this out with your group.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

3 Ways to Make the Warm Up Relevant for Students

Much has been written about what should be included in a band warm up. There are some tried and true methods out there. For example, some teachers swear by Bach chorales as a necessity (or at least a chorale of some sort). There is much written as to the purpose of a warm up, and so on and so forth. I'm not actually here to add to that debate today. Today I'm here to offer some tips to make your band warm up more relevant to the students so that more is learned during that time.

The Problem With Most Warm Up Routines...

is that they're routine. On the one hand, routines and procedures are important. They help the students stay grounded, it helps them know what to expect, and so on. But here is the kind of routine I'm talking about:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Three Levels of Listening


One of the most difficult things to teach students is active listening skills. I was very fortunate in my early high school experience to have someone present a schema for listening to me that was easy to understand and apply. I've continued to use it as a player and a teacher with success.

For any readers who haven't taken Education courses yet, a schema is basically a model for understanding something that you create in your brain. For example, if you know the rules for the NFL, you've developed a schema. However, when you watch Arena Football, you have to adjust your schema (understanding of how football works) slightly to accommodate the different rules. It's also possible to have to develop completely new schemata when the information you discover cannot be assimilated into an existing schema. Moving on...

The Three Levels of Listening

Developing active listening skills
takes guided practice. It's like
developing a seventh sense.
(The sixth is Kinesthesis)
I don't know who came up with this, otherwise I would give them credit. The idea is that there are Three Levels of Listening. You focus your listening on specific things in specific levels, and when you have achieved certain things on that level, you move up to the next one while still monitoring what you've already worked on at the same time.

Level One - Listen to Yourself

As teachers we understand that if a player does not sound good individually, it will be impossible for them to blend into the sound of the band. So, the first goal is to train students to listen critically to their sound and their playing, and to make adjustments. When you begin putting this schema into practice, you start with "Level One - Listen to Yourself". 

There are certain check offs at this level (as with all of them). They're all related to individual playing. For example, "Are you playing with a good tone quality?" "Are you playing in tune?" "Are you playing with good articulation/style/musical shaping?" And you could go on. If they can answer "Yes" to all of these questions, then they move on to Level Two.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review: "The Creative Director: Alternative Rehearsal Techniques" by Ed Lisk

Hello again!

It may not look like much on
the cover, but I think you'll
be impressed.
One of the things I'd like to be able to do is review the books I've read and give some good information as to what you can expect if you're considering purchasing them. I am a reading fanatic, but I don't have the funds to buy all the books I want, so I always have a difficult time trying to pick the ones I think would work best.

Well, let me come right out and say that so far I am a big fan of the entire Creative Director series. Let's talk about Ed List, The ART system itself, and if you're interested, you can find out what to expect with the first book in the series. It's definitely where you'd want to start.

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