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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, March 11, 2013


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. 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!

The First Ten Minutes The most vital time you have .
by AAron Bryan

Get to group sound ASAP!

  • I think this is extremely important. It sets the tone of the rehearsal and prioritizes music over everything else.

  • If you can, wait to deliver announcements until the end of class.

Start with long, soft sounds. With nothing else to think about, this is the perfect time to…

  • Develop their Pitch Awareness.

    • Ask them to listen and adjust to the group. You’ll be surprised at what they’re capable of.

    • Many days, I did not have to stop everything and “tune.” Some students will need a little extra guidance, but only step in when they absolutely need you to.

  • Develop their Balance / Texture understanding. Help them understand their “role” in the ensemble.

    • Ask them to “find the group” with their volume – to mix their sound evenly with what they hear around them.

      • Now, find the “distractions” in the sound. Some students may think they’re mixing their sounds within the texture of the group…. but some will need your help with that.

    • Help them understand when it is appropriate to “lean” out of the group with their volume, and when they need to find the group again.

      • Give specific examples from the music you’re preparing.

    • Help individuals and/or sections understand when they need to “find a place to hide.” I commonly asked my 1st clarinets to “hide behind the flutes” during stratospheric moments… or the alto saxophones to “hide behind the horns” on unison moments.

Use the same material, with a different daily approach

  • I used Ray Cramer’s “Lip Benders” on a daily basis. It contains a variety of 11 simple exercises that can easily be manipulated to fit your rehearsal goals for the day.

  • I did not want my students to read anything new during this time so they could focus on the concept(s) of the day. (note length, articulation, release points, vertical alignment, etc.)

Focus on listening

  • This time is for their ears, not their fingers.

Directed listening

  • Help them understand what section(s)/color/melody you want them to listen to at every given moment.

Be Consistent

  • Start on time!

    • This sends a clear message to everyone… one way or the other.

Be careful, they may be watching you…

  • Develop your conducting technique until it is invisible – that it becomes a part of your musical “you.” Your baton is your primary instrument for this group. You cannot be a novice on your instrument as the leader of the group.

    • Invisible technique is a commonality between great Actors and great Conductors.

The Next 5 Minutes… Technique Development. Article Coming Soon!

AAron Bryan, Vice-President
Palen Music Center, Inc.
[email protected]

AAron taught band for 13 years, the last 8 at Broken Arrow High School, home of the nationally acclaimed Pride of Broken Arrow Marching Band - the 2006 Bands of America Grand National Champion. AAron holds Master of Arts degrees from Truman State University in Conducting and Trumpet Performance and a Bachelors Degree in Education from Missouri State University.

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