Articulation on Reed Instruments

One of the areas of wind playing that students seem to have difficulty with is articulation--using the tongue to start and provide separation between notes. This is often referred to as "tonguing." There are many varieties of articulation, and each one has its own challenges, but a player must master the fundamental technique of using … Continue reading Articulation on Reed Instruments

What Are The Elements of Music?

What are the elements of music? It sounds like a simple question, one to which you'd expect a straightforward answer; perhaps a list of seven or eight items. If you ask this question of most if any music teacher, you're likely to get such an answer. The trouble is, if you ask several music teachers, you're … Continue reading What Are The Elements of Music?

What Idle Students in Music Ensembles Should Be Doing

Classroom management in large music ensemble rehearsals can look a little different from that used in conventional classrooms. The number of students is larger than an academic or general music class, and the nature of what we are asking students to do—make sound—is also different. If everyone were always playing or singing, there would be … Continue reading What Idle Students in Music Ensembles Should Be Doing

The Tension Between Expediency and Rigor

Realizing that the world isn’t perfect, and that music directors sometimes do things they feel they have to do but don’t really want to do, I thought it would be useful to explore the tension that often exists between expedient and rigorous. First, I should define my terms. Expedient is training an ensemble to play … Continue reading The Tension Between Expediency and Rigor

What Is An Effective Practice Routine for Instrumentalists?

One of the most daunting tasks for a musician is to make a start at learning a new and difficult work. We all enjoy the ease of playing a well practiced and already performed piece, but starting work on new and challenging music takes an initial burst of will-power and self-motivation. There may be an … Continue reading What Is An Effective Practice Routine for Instrumentalists?

Where Is That Meter?

Recently, I attended a chamber music concert that included the first of Beethoven’s “Razumofsky” string quartets, the Op. 59, no. 1. The performance was by an ensemble made of advanced musicians from prestigious music conservatories that had gathered to attend a music festival. As the performance got under way, I quickly became unsettled. I couldn’t … Continue reading Where Is That Meter?