By kevin | April 10, 2010
This is a question that is actually hardly ever asked by music students, but perhaps it should be…
Why does this book say “quarter note”… when this other one says “crotchet?”
I think the fact that there are two whole systems for the naming of the rhythm notations in music can be extremely confusing to students at times.
There are those who are extremely passionate that it should be a “quarter note” and that anything calling it a “crotchet” deserves to be in a museum! Certainly in North America and Canada the European terminology is quite uncommon.
Ive been researching and writing a number of articles on the Differences between European and American terminologies and the pros and cons of teaching both systems.
I’m not passionate one way or the other, but if you read the article suggested above you may find out more about it.
In creating our music theory worksheets at the Fun Music Company this is something that we always have to be well aware of, that there are so many different people in the world, and they all have a different way of teaching, and terminology is one of those things that is different.
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By kevin | October 29, 2009
YES! Theory is important for Drums and Percussion Too!
Drummers and percussionists are often the furthest behind when it comes to music theory, as they play an instrument that has no pitch associated with it.
I’ve just been involved in helping co-ordinate the release of our latest music theory books from the Fun Music Company, and I thought that visitors on the Percussion Education Blog might also be interested.
Printable Music Theory Books contain everything you need for a fundamental theory course, and this new level two book goes right through scales and keys at a really understandable level…. even for drum students!
Check it out now!
By kevin | October 13, 2009
I just received an excellent DVD called “Guerrilla Drum Making” from John Dutra in the United States.
This video took me back – I used to play around a lot with refinishing and refitting hardware onto drum shells.. however I was never really good at it!
I did a few projects and enjoyed refinishing drums, but I couldn’t find much advice at the time, especially for a non-craftsman type person like myself.
Its not as easy as it sounds – for example drilling one hole in the wrong place in the shells for the hardware can completely ruin a drum if you don’t know what you’re doing (which I didn’t!)
This DVD made me think – “I’f only I’d had this 15 years ago I wouldn’t have ruined that drum!”
If the idea of making a custom drum set is appealing to you then I urge you to check out Guerilla Drum Making for advice. The video doesn’t show you how to make your own shells – quite rightly he suggests buying them, however it does cover everything you need to know about:
- Placing Lugs and hardware onto drums
- Spraying Drums for high gloss finishes
- Veneering drums with exotic woods
- Creating Sunburst and other effects on drums
We could debate the pros and cons for a long time on making custom drums – but if you are interesting in doing it I highly recommend checking out a resource like this DVD:
You can learn more about the DVD and purchase it at guerrilladrummaking.com
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By kevin | September 21, 2009
I just found this new website which has been launched to help Bands connect with potential tutors, arrangers and directors.
Its a really well thought out project, and I’m keen to support such a project as this getting off the ground. The more support it can get, the more useful a resource it will be for all music professionals and educators.
For Bands it provides a method of finding great professionals, and for individuals it gives them the chance to apply and connect with the jobs that are available. Even though I’m not in the US band scene I can see the usefulness of this site once it really gets going.
So check out My Band Staff when you next need to find some great people for your band or other music education job.
By kevin | July 9, 2009
This brand new text was written specifically for the college professor, classroom teacher or student, and it is a practical, easy to understand manual for effective concert band instruction.
Teaching concert band is a highly complex and involved job. It is the intent of this of the text to give the band director a straight forward, clearly written guide on how to be an effective teacher.
Part I of the manual, 15 Steps To A Better Band, addresses the content area, philosophy and strategies needed to produce a superior sounding concert band. Part II of the manual will address issues off the podium. The Baton Can Wait discusses the problems and solutions for over 43 non music related areas such as discipline, order and organization.
The author says:
“You can make a difference in the lives of your students, but you must have the tools necessary to accomplish this. Making quality music is a difficult and complicated job, and this text will help you achieve your musical goals.”
Mr. Robert Jackson has been teaching band and instrumental music for 30 years at the middle and high school levels. He has devoted his entire career to developing stratagies for maximizing teacher effectiveness and achieving high student achievement.
To find out more about the book, visit Robert’s website at www.teachingconcertband.com
By kevin | July 1, 2009
I’ve just discovered something that I WISH had been around ten years ago!
Getting started in the music business is hard enough as it is – firstly you’ve got to become brilliant on your instrument and get yourself into a great band or ensemble.
Then you’ve got the challenge of getting gigs and making yourself a success as a business.
It doesn’t matter what style of music you are into:
In order to succeed as a musician you’ve got to think like a business person.
Some might consider that statement as “selling your soul” and that music is about expression and art.. but those musicians are the ones that are likely to be poor tonight.
You know the old joke don’t you….
Q. “What’s the first thing a professional musician says to you at work?”
A. “Would you like fries with that”
Of course, thats only a joke… but deep inside we know that we deserve more money and success from our music than we have achieved so far.
Now.. how to succeed in business.
You need access to the best tools, the best resources and the experience of hundreds of other musicians.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it!
I’ve just discovered the Music Business Entrepreneurs Package – which is the most complete package of business tools for musicians I’ve found.
The Record Label Business plan
A step by step guide for starting your own record label – how to write a business plan that will show financiers and banks that you mean business!
Music Business Contracts & Entertainment Agreements
Every Contract you’ll ever need. Never get burned again by doing a gig without the proper contractual agreement in place!
The Musicians Upload Directory
Having a great song is just the start. Knowing where to upload it so that it gets heard is another thing! This list will give you an awesome starting point to get your music out there
Samples, Background Music and Sound Effects
If you’re recording, producing, composing, or doing anything with music all these samples and resources will be invaluable! Don’t miss the chance to grab this all together!
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To get more details simply check out the Music Business Entrepreneurs Pack today
By kevin | June 5, 2009
Today I’ve got a guest contribution for you – an interesting article on the benefits of teaching reading in drum lessons. I agree with david’s philosophy.. how about you? Leave a comment on the end of the article.
By kevin | January 1, 2009
Here is an interesting question I received via email this afternoon:
“I have a question for an expert. I am a elementary music teacher looking to purchase a good set of glockenspiels for my K-3 classroom. I have talked to two different store experts and received two different perspectives about what is the best product out there. One of them says that the Studio 49 2000 series is the best that ever was with excellent tuning of the bars including the overtone sequence. He says Sonor has been trying to catch up with Studio 49 (which in the past has stolen the competition hands down by creating a better product) and seemed to imply that Sonor did not tune their instruments as well although he didn’t see overly knowledgeable about their newest product because it is so new. The other store seems to be pushing Sonor’s newest soprano and alto glocks–GAM and GSM–with the wider bars and handy storage of the extra bars. She says that Sonor also has excellent tuning but doesn’t seem to know quite as much about tuning. I am confused. I want to buy something really good that will last. I don’t know any experts to ask and I found your website. Do you know anything about these instruments or have an idea about where I might get some good unbiased information?”
Thanks for your question – I think its very relevant topic for discussion on this blog.
I don’t really have personal first hand knowledge with the instruments you are talking about, but I’ll try my best to give some help. I’d be grateful for anyone else who does have experience with these instruments leaving their comments on this post.
The first thing that struck me when I read your question was:
“What a lot of baloney is talked by sales people!”
I hear stories like this all the time from students who go to one store and get one story, and then go to a different store and get a completely different story about what suppliers are doing and the supposed “strengths” and “weaknesses” of different brands against each other.
Firstly its important to realize that each shop usually has agreements in place with wholesalers that require (or at least encourage financially) that supplier to promote one brand over another. Its even possible that certain stores cannot even get supplied with particular brands. I’ve certainly heard of this happening with Drum Kits and Pianos – and it may be the same with mallet percussion. Therefore the salespeople are just doing their job – trying to convince you that purchasing their product ahead of the other store’s product is the right thing to do.
The issue with tuning makes me laugh – its clearly one of the areas that salespeople like to pretend that one brand is going to be better than another because its something that all music teachers are sensitive to of course!
Glockenspiels are very high pitched instruments, so even on concert quality instruments rarely ever are a great many overtones tuned, and certainly not in these classroom style instruments. On the lower notes they sometimes tune the first harmonic, but really most of them just have the Fundamental tuned. Think about it…… at the pitch of a glockenspiel most of the harmonics are so far above audible range that it is really insignificant anyway if they are going to tune harmonics.
Therefore does it really matter?… With tuning you should be able to use your ears to determine if the fundamentals have been tuned well, and that really is all that matters. Let’s leave harmonics for another discussion where they are more relevant!
Play a scale, see if it sounds tuneful, and then if you want to test it take a chromatic tuner along and make sure that each bar is tuned well, and that should be all you need in this area. I’ve never really known any brands of glockenspiel to have any tuning issues.
I’m not going to say that the thicker wider bars are not necessarily better, as they may be, as I can’t personally test these instruments side by side. Bar wideness and thickness is also not really a big issue – metal bars will last for years anyway… and thicker wider bars are not going to do much other than make the instrument heavier to lift!
The only thing you can really trust is common sense. You need to ask yourself these two questions:
1) What is important in the instruments that I want to buy?
2) Which instruments give me the features I need at the best price?
If you can answer these questions about any instrument purchase for a school you’ll be on the right track, and you can go to the store knowing exactly what you want, or just ring around the suppliers in your home town until you get the best prices.
If I was to purchase glockenspiels for K-3 classroom use my importance criteria would be:
1) Will this instrument LAST in a school?
2) Is this instrument going to be easy to manage and use for the students?
3) Is this instrument going to be too LOUD in the hands of a class of K-3 students?
Making the instrument LAST is the critical thing. How many times have you been into a music classroom with instruments where notes have fallen off, where the rubber mounting posts have broken or been removed or where design flaws in the instrument have rendered it useless after a while? These things happen all the time, and its very important to get it right if you’re going to be investing in an entire class set of instruments.
What would I do in this situation?
I would test them all for myself. If possible BUY one of each of the brands, and then try it for an entire year before committing to a classroom set. That’s really the only way that you can know for sure which instrument is going to be the most useful and practical for you and your teaching situation.
If that’s not possible, because you need the entire class set now what I would do is at least borrow the two instruments from each respective store (they should let you do this), Take them into your classroom, put them side by side and then think about how they will be used in your music classes. How easily do they fit into your storage shelves? How easily will they be carried? What parts look weak and might easily break? How do they sound when played by a young student?
Anyway, that is my thoughts on this topic – if you’d like to add to this discussion feel free to add a comment on this post
By kevin | December 6, 2008
This is in response to a question I had recently from a parent who was helping their daughter prepare for a high school band audition on percussion. This is just a few ideas to help anyone in this situation.
Firstly, what is sight reading?
Sight reading is the ability to perform a passage of music from the written notes without having a chance to practice it. It is commonly a part of auditions at all levels, wether it be for high school band or professional orchestra, and it is also commonly part of grade examinations for most instruments.
Usually what happens is that the examiner or band director will put the sheet of music in front of the applicant, and ask him or her to play it.
On percussion in Band auditions usually sight reading is required on both Tuned Percussion (commonly bells) and Untuned percussion (often snare drum).
Sight reading on Bells (or any tuned percussion instrument) is quite a bit more challenging than Untuned Percussion, because of having to read the pitches and the rhythms.
Tips to help make sight reading easier:
1) Regular Practice
You can make sight reading part of your regular practice routine by sightreading anything and everything you can get your hands on. If you’ve got old tutor books for flute, clarinet or other instruments at a basic level these make excellent sight reading practice material for bells.
2) Take your time before you start
Remember that although it is “sight reading” and you can’t practice it first, you can discipline yourself to run through a “mental checklist” before you play that will help you to get it right. This is perhaps the most important thing about getting sight reading correct, and not doing this is commonly where students fall down with sight reading.
Before you start, you need to run through the following things in your mind:
- What’s the Key signature?
- What’s the Time Signature?
- How fast does it go?
- What note does it start on?
- What’s the dynamics? (volume)
- sing through the first few bars in your head.
Although the examiners and audition panel are waiting for you to play, give yourself those few seconds that it takes to run through that list in your head – they won’t mind waiting a few seconds, and it can make the difference between a pass and a fail.
3) Notice all the elements and play musically
Remember that sight reading is still music, and you need to perform it like music to get the best result from the audition. Take notice all all the elements – the tempo (speed) and the dynamics are very important to make it sound musical.
4) Stay Calm & don’t stress about it!
Sight Reading is usually not a major part of most auditions or exams – it is just something which is done to test your level of experience playing and reading music. The band director or audition panel will be looking at your overall musicianship and not necessarily whether you can sight read a particular passage. If you make a complete mess of it, don’t worry! You probably did better than you think you did!
By kevin | November 16, 2008
A Special offer from the Fun Music Company
Do you know someone who was given, or bought in a strange moment of weakness a Djembe, pair of bongos or congas, but has never got around to having lessons?
Possibly everyone knows someone like that – I know I do!
Thats why we’ve put together a very special offer from the Fun Music Company this holiday season on our Djembe Secrets and Percussion Secrets training programs, from percussion pro Tim Irrgang.
Tim’s programs are quite unique, because he has a really relaxed teaching style, which allows you to absorb the information at your own pace.
What we are doing this holiday season is offering a package of BOTH the Djembe Secrets AND the Percussion secrets online training programs, at a heavily reduced price.
We’re also mailing out laminated online access cards, so that you can give the gift of percussion tuition on Christmas day.
If you think about it this form of tuition is even better than DVDs – as your gift recipient can access it anywhere, and at any time, and can quickly find the information they need.