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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, April 14, 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.

Quick Tip -- Three Levels of Listening
Today in rehearsal, talk to your students about the three levels of listening. Experiment with the following:

"Level One Listening" - As the ensemble plays, listen carefully to yourself.
Evaluate your own tone, expressiveness, dynamic contrast, and note accuracy. Most entry-level musicians never go beyond this level because they are simply hanging on to their own part. There is little eye contact with the director, and no effort to hear what other sections in the ensemble are performing.

"Level Two Listening" - As the ensemble plays, listen carefully to your entire section.
Work to match pitch, blend, and balance. Is each member of the section audible? Is anyone covering up "softer" players? I like to use the bed of nails analogy. A circus performer can successfully lay on a bed of nails without getting injured because all of the nails are the same height. If one nail is too high, or if random nails are too low, the results will be obvious -- BLOOD. To avoid a bloody sounding section, make sure that all members are contributing to the sound with no individuals sticking out. Kids love this bed of nails analogy and can understand the musical application.

"Level Three Listening" - As the ensemble plays, listen across to another section.
Identify a group or even an individual across the ensemble and listen carefully for other parts. Identify other sections within the ensemble that are playing a similar or identical part to your own. Work to match their style, articulation, note length, breathing, and releases. Blend and match pitch. Play "inside" each other's sounds. Groups that talk about and execute level three listening will play better in tune and with a homogenous sound. The increased awareness will get the individual musicians "out of their own stand" and into the ensemble as a whole.

Discuss these terms with your group and play through a passage with level one, then level two, then level three listening. This exercise, if repeated and reinforced regularly, will shift the focus of even your youngest musicians up from level one and two into level three listening. The results will speak for themselves. Hope this helps!

Eric Matzat

Missouri Lions Band Organizes for a "Show-Me Tour"

The Lions Clubs of Missouri is planning for the 2008 edition of their annual All-State Band to take a promotional tour of the state. The band typically travels to the Lions International Convention when held on the North American continent. This year's convention is in Bangkok, Thailand, so the state committee has chosen to tour the band across Missouri.

Membership in the group is determined by local band directors and the local sponsoring Lions Club, and each has applications for high school juniors to submit. The band is directed by the staff of Southeast Missouri State University of Cape Girardeau, led by Barry Bernhardt.

Band members participate in a three-day camp on the SEMO campus from June 26-29 and the band will tour the state from June 29 through July 4. The tour will swing through the southern part of the state before heading to the Kansas City area, then to Columbia and Jefferson City, and ending at the Fair St. Louis Parade on July 4.


Marvin Manring, Stockton

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, and Jeromy Pope
  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.