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
Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues.
"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!
Can we assist you with anything? Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.
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