This website is the outgrowth of a thesis and project I have undertaken titled, “An Approach to Starting Band Students as Musicians.”
The Videos on this website are meant to reinforce the classroom learning at home, and for parents and guardians to assist their children with learning to play a musical instrument. They were made using “kid-friendly” language and to-the-point (most videos are under five minutes).
The Books are meant to be used prior to and in conjunction with any traditional band method book. Rather than replacing the traditional method, these provide a reliable segue to using the sound-before-symbol approach to music learning in a way that still relies on the traditional band method book for learning music notation.
The First Year Curriculum was a part of a clinic given at the 2015 Massachusetts All State Conference. The presentation also focussed on the rest of my beginning year curriculum, all of which is presented on a companion website:
- Instrument Basics are quick tip reminders of what students learn in the majority of the instrument video lessons.
- The Musical Alphabet is spoken through forwards and backwards at the beginning of instruction. It is reinforced that forwards = up and backwards = down.
- Rhythm Patterns are chanted on the word “BAH” (with inflection) before ever seeing or discussing music notation. This is done as a call and response. A simple description of one circle (notehead) equals one “BAH” is all most students need to recognize these patterns.
- The First Five Notes and visual aid are used to relate the instrument to the musical alphabet.
- Duple & Triple Songs ideally are learned aurally/orally on “BUM”, then on solfege syllables, and finally on the instrument. This happens before seeing them written in solfege.
- The Chromatic Scale should also be learned about the midpoint of the first year and by rote without this visual aid. Once students have an idea of it, the fingering chart will assist them rather than being a dependent tool. When using this page, students should look at the letter while hearing and feeling the tone. By learning this, students begin to understand how music works (this leads to the circle of 4ths in year 2), they begin to learn their instrument and not just how to decode notation, and their ears begin listening more closely to pitch discrepancies. By the end of the first year and into the second, students begin learning the major and minor scales. This is a simple task once they already know how to play most tones on their instruments. It is just a matter of organizing them into specific ways.
Basic Band Book Downloads
Click Here for the Thesis
Although music-making is an interaction between the maker and the organized sounds she is making, virtually all beginning band method books used in United States public schools attempt to teach music notation literacy prior to and along side the act of making music. Although research shows that music is learned more effectively when taught aurally first and visually sometime later, most music educators admit to using one of these “traditional” books. Many times, they find the need to supplement these books due to a lack of authentic music-making inherent within them. Furthermore, new educators tend to rely on the “traditional” book as their entire curriculum unknowing of any other method of instruction. There are several “alternative” beginning band methods available that attempt a sound-before-symbol approach, but only one is published, is not widely used, and attempts to completely replace the “traditional” method book.
What follows is an approach that combines methods of various veteran music educators with research-proven data, and culminates with a book and video series to be used before and alongside any traditional method book. Rather than replacing the traditional method, this approach attempts to do what has yet to be done: provide a reliable segue to using the sound-before-symbol approach to music learning in a way that still relies on the traditional band method book.