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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, February 18, 2008


The PMC Quick Note is a weekly service provided to all area directors.  It is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest.  The weekly Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues.

Parent Help: But I Don't Know A Thing About Music
This information was taken from a very helpful site provided by Conn-Selmer called Check it out for a wealth of information.

Visit for more informationYou can help. Yes, you. Never mind that you can’t read a note or carry a tune. By being there, by supporting the band director, by affirming that music matters, by encouraging your child to practice and by praising the results, you can play a big role in assuring the success of your budding musician.

Specifically, you can help in two important ways:
1. Guide your child’s practice at home.
2. Become a band booster.


Okay, it’s not the part of this extraordinary adventure that either you or your child is looking forward to. But any skill worth learning requires patience and persistence; if it were easy, mastering it would mean little. Regular home practice is an essential part of learning to play a musical instrument; it can’t be mastered in lessons, in class or in rehearsal. Your role is to set the expectation of regular practice and to encourage your child as he or she begins to show progress.

How often should your child practice? Daily, preferably at the same time each day. It’s easier to establish a routine, then follow it, than it is to randomly squeeze in practice when time is available.

When should your child practice? He or she needs to be focused and alert for practice. For some, the best time may be right after school; others may need some time to unwind before concentrating on music. Taking into consideration the needs of the rest of the family, determine what time works best for your child, and then stick with it.

Where should your child practice? At first you’ll want to be nearby, to listen and supervise. Once your child has developed the routine and the discipline to practice alone, choose a quiet place without distractions—no TV within earshot. The practice area should have good lighting and enough room for a music stand and a straight-backed chair.

How long should your child practice? The band director probably has definite ideas about this. For students in elementary school, many directors recommend practicing at least 15 to 20 minutes a day; for older students, 30 minutes is typical. Frequency is generally considered more important than duration, so 20 minutes daily is preferable to 30 minutes three times a week.

How do you know if your child is practicing correctly? Listen. Even most nonmusicians can easily tell whether a child is hitting or missing notes and whether a piece is flowing or stumbling along. If there are problems, is your child following a good practice routine? Or is he or she skipping the “boring” parts, such as warm-up exercises and reworking the trouble spots?

What if something’s really wrong? Many children have trouble getting motivated to practice at home, but once they pick up the instrument, they can usually “get into” the practice session. On the other hand, if you have to fight your child to practice, and if he or she seems to hate every minute of it, it’s time to talk to both your child and the band director to determine if and how the problem can be solved.

Remember: every musician develops at his or her own pace. As long as your child continues to enjoy band, chances are he or she is doing fine, and you can take pride in having helped establish an effective practice routine.

Me? A band booster?

Your child is in the band, so he or she is a joiner. Why not you?

Behind nearly every successful school band program is an active group of band or orchestra parents. These groups go by many names, but in the end, they’re all “band boosters.” If your child’s school has such a group, you should consider joining.

Yes, it’s a great excuse to get together with other like-minded parents and enjoy their company, united in a common cause, but the point of the organization is its service to the school band program. No matter what your talents, the band boosters need you—because the band program needs you. What, exactly, do band boosters do?

They lend moral support. Attending practices, performances and contests, they often sit together so they can cheer for the band, on and off the field.

They raise money for the band program by running various sales, raffles and subscription drives. You name it—the ideas for fund-raising are virtually endless.

They help with road trips by transporting students, instruments and equipment. They may also act as chaperones for such trips.

They help publicize the band’s activities and concerts by printing flyers, publishing newsletters, issuing press releases and making phone calls to other band or orchestra parents.

They help marching bands by raising funds to purchase new uniforms or by repairing and maintaining existing uniforms.

They build the props used in competitions or help purchase such equipment as risers or sound amplification.

They organize and host annual recognition banquets.

And in communities where school band programs are threatened by budget cuts, they spearhead advocacy campaigns that promote music education in general.

In short, band boosters work with the band director to lend the muscle and support necessary to ensure that the school’s music program continues to thrive. It’s a rewarding activity, and many band boosters remain involved long after their own children have left the school.

Other helpful links from Conn-Selmer:

1. Knowing and working with the band director
2. Buying or renting an instrument
3. Helping your child learn
4. Some common misconceptions
5. Glossary of Terms in Instrumental Music
6. Do's and Don'ts of Instrument Care
7. Choosing a Music Store
8. Consider Private Lessons
9. What Else Can I Do?

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center

Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


(417) 882-7000
Bob Hopkins, Mike Brown, Jeromy Pope, and Jim Wilson
  Springfield North (417) 862-2700 Burl Williams
  Columbia (573) 256-5555 Robert Pitts
  Joplin (417) 781-3100 Wayne Blades and Zach Houser
  Liberty (816) 792-8301 Ken Crisp and Dick Murdock
  Broken Arrow (918) 770-6827 Mackey Amos and Mark VanVranken
If you would like to submit material, make changes or corrections, give comments, or wish to be removed from this mailing list, please contact Eric Matzat.