Monthly Archives: November 2016

Teaching Trombone

Trombone – Getting Started

Rationale:

In this lesson students beginning the horn will learn the basics on how to hold the instrument and play “Hot Cross Buns.”  The song and notes will not be applied to the staff (at this point) to help the student focus on technique and getting clear sounds out of the instrument, and only focus on the one task.  Each student is different, so I will check with individuals to find the best way to approach each step to keep them comfortable and engaged.

Materials:

  • Trombones

Procedure:

  1. Start with buzzing on the mouthpiece
    • Put index finger in middle of mouth, practice breathing correctly
      • Deep, ‘o’ breath in
      • Put hand out in front and practice pushing air
      • Say ‘doo’
      • Articulation practice with air
      • Like water faucet
    • Practice relaxed raspberries
      • Use same amount of air
    • Show how to put on mouth
      • Say ‘em’ for firm corners
      • In center like finger
    • Get a clear sound
      • Buzzing is constant, no starts and stops
      • No air in tone
      • Practice saying “doo” for articulation
    • Do ‘sirens’ to teach voicing
      • Start on relatively the same pitch
      • Practice bending pitch up and down
  2. Put the mouthpiece on the instrument and show how to hold
    • Sitting up straight
    • Focus on left hand position, thumb on trigger, index finger touching mouthpiece area, remaining fingers wrapped around brace of slide
    • Right hand shape, gripping slide with thumb, index, and middle fingers, remaining fingers tucked into palm
      • Pick up the instrument, bringing mouthpiece to face
      • Don’t let them move their heads to the instrument
    • Slide should be almost perpendicular to the ground
      • Make sure instruments are set up properly, slide at 90o angle to bell
    • Show what to do with the instrument when not playing
      • Lock the slide and place off to the side of the left leg, rubber stopper on slide resting on ground, instrument straight down
      • Between reps when slide is not locked, hold slide with pinky to keep from falling
      • Apply buzzing from mouthpiece onto instrument
        • Diagnose any problems producing a clear sound, don’t move on until mostly successful
          • Teacher diagnose
          • Peer diagnose (possibly)
          • Reinforce
    • Don’t move on until comfortable producing clear sound
    • Try getting a written fourth line F (concert F) established (first position)
      1. Starting note of song
    • Let them practice getting the note and articulation on their own
  1. Introduce slide positions
    • Explain how to get different notes out of the instrument
    • We are working on getting first, third, and fifth positions
    • Let them practice moving the slide
  2. Teach how to play “Hot Cross Buns”
    • Demonstrate as a whole for them
      • Explain which positions are used and get them to sing along
        • Sing pitches and positions at the same time along
      • Take one note at a time and slowly put them together
        • Get F out, practice moving to Eb (third position) below that
        • Move between notes in and out of time
      • Do the same between Eb and Db (fifth position) below that
        • Make sure they are articulating (no wa-wa’s)
    • Gradually introduce rhythms and eventually play whole song
      • Assign rhythms to notes, practice articulating where needed

 

Assessment:

Student will have successfully completed the lesson once they can hold the instrument and play the song with little-to-no instruction (except for playing along and giving tempo).

Extension:

Going into the next lesson, the song will then be taught from the staff, the fingerings and note names taught in the last lesson will be taught again in a different context to teach how to read musical notations.

Reflection:

The purpose of this teaching was to become familiar with teaching multiple students an instrument at the same time, in this instance it was French horn.  I taught Moriah (age 16) and Benji (age 12) to see how just a few years in age would affect how I should teach and how students of different ages might be able to pick up on the instrument.  Going into the lesson I decided to teach the song “Hot Cross Buns” because it was very simple and they were both familiar with the tune.  Teaching a song proved to be helpful because I was able to introduce basic technique, get them familiar with a few slide positions, and begin working on articulation in a single lesson.  The experience as a whole was very educational for me in different ways.  I got to try out different methods of teaching this instrument and some ideas on how to help students that don’t get it quite right, this being my third chance at teaching an instrument to multiple students.

I tried to take different methods that I found that worked, and didn’t work and tried my best to put them together, while also introducing some other things that I thought I should try out.  Some of these were breathing, showing them right away the way that they should be breathing and also trying to incorporate and enforce that in a lot of different ways.  I also wanted to see how singing the tune might help them with getting the style and techniques that they needed to be using.  Tying this in with the description of air as a water faucet felt to me to be the best approach so far that I have taken because it is slowly building on things that they already know rather than trying to introduce so many foreign things to them and expecting them to just be able to pick it up right away.  I noticed that I reverted back to my way of describing things and getting them to do things (“I want you to” rather than trying to get them to mimic me) but in a way I am okay with that because it made me more confident in the lesson and I think that it came across to the students, and got them to listen more and kept them engaged.  This approach might not work for everyone, but I found that it helped in this case.

That being said, I know that talking can take up a lot of time, but getting an image into their heads was really important in getting them to really get a handle on what it was that they were supposed to do and helped me to establish “buzz words” with them (words that will trigger something instantly rather than having to stop and explain) and kept me from stopping and restarting.  In the long run I think that it even helped save time because I only had to say things once or twice rather than showing them something and them not understanding it and having to eventually go back and explain when they are already confused.  This whole thing seemed to make everything flow  a little better than things have in the past, except for a few things on my part that made the lesson seem a little disorganized.  Trying new things while also trying to keep things as in order as possible did throw me off course for a little bit.  Teaching an instrument that is fairly new to me was already hard, and in changing little things I started to lose focus and it took me some time to really thing about the steps I had laid out and recompose myself.  This whole thing can be solved by me just taking some time and practicing it more in my head to be more prepared going into the lesson.

I need to find the best way to sequence things within my steps, especially regarding breathing and buzzing, and again it will just take some more practice.  Showing them how to hold the instrument was also a little bit of an issue for me, because on reflecting I am seeing how they didn’t grasp it right away and were holding it wrong before I noticed too late.  This caused me to backtrack and explain to both of them where their right hands were supposed to go, and not emphasizing staying relaxed was also something that caused a lot of issues.  When they began to tense up everything began to suffer (embouchure, breathing, tone, posture, slide positions) and I wasn’t able to catch and correct it in time.  I also noticed that in our singing the slide positions, we were all a little choppy and that what we had established in the beginning in terms of breathing and articulation was not longer being applied.  I was a little more comfortable in this lesson because I had taught other instruments than my own, but every instrument presents different challenges and it will just take a while to get more comfortable with catching everything, being more aware of what is going on with individual students.

This lesson was one of my most successful, because I was really trying to focus on developing my own approach to it.  I do need to be more confident in my sequencing of it, and making sure that when I demonstrate it it actually correct (mostly with tone and articulation), the way that I want them to do it.  I tried to get them to listen (start on Bb and move up to F), experiment with getting the slide positions correct (sing-slide-play), get used to a conductor and that helped to a certain extent, but because the lesson was so short it would have to be something covered in the next lesson.  The actual space we were in was a little awkward (why I ended up standing) and moving for each note was a little weird with the instrument, so going forward I will try to limit how much I play.  Standing did help me catch some things that I would likely not have noticed, but I did miss a lot of things like both of their right hands and the way that they were tensing up and making their tone suffer because of this.

 

Teaching French Horn

Horn – Getting Started

Rationale:

In this lesson students beginning the horn will learn the basics on how to hold the instrument and play “Hot Cross Buns.”  The song and notes will not be applied to the staff (at this point) to help the student focus on technique and getting clear sounds out of the instrument, and only focus on the one task.  Each student is different, so I will check with individuals to find the best way to approach each step to keep them comfortable and engaged.

Materials:

  • Horns

Procedure:

  1. Start with buzzing on the mouthpiece
    1. Show how to put on mouth and blow a raspberry
      1. 2/3 on top lip, 1/3 on bottom lip
      2. Get sound like an angry bee
    2. Get a clear sound
      1. Buzzing is constant, no starts and stops
      2. No air in tone
  2. Practice saying “doo” for articulation
  3. Practice succession of tonguing on same pitch roughly
  4. Do ‘sirens’ to teach voicing
    1. Start on relatively the same pitch
    2. Practice bending pitch up and down
  5. Put the mouthpiece on the instrument and show how to hold
    1. Sitting up straight
    2. Focus on left fingers over valves, thumb on trigger, pinky in hook
    3. Right hand shape, like catching rain drop, angle correctly, insert in bell
      1. Not completely covering bell, outside of the inside
    4. Rest bell on lap
      1. If there is a height problem hold slightly off to the side
      2. Holding off lap will cause fatigue
    5. Bring lead pipe to face, mouthpiece like buzzing exercise
      1. Slightly angled down
    6. Apply buzzing from mouthpiece onto instrument
      1. Diagnose any problems producing a clear sound, don’t move on until mostly successful
        1. Teacher diagnose
        2. Peer diagnose
  6. Don’t move on until comfortable producing clear sound
  7. Try getting a written E (concert A) established
    1. Starting note of song
  8. Teach how to play “Hot Cross Buns”
    1. Take one note at a time and slowly put them together
      1. Get E out, practice moving to D below that
      2. Move between notes in and out of time
      3. Do the same between D and C below that
  9. Gradually introduce rhythms and eventually play whole song
  10. Assign rhythms to notes, practice articulating where needed

Assessment:

Student will have successfully completed the lesson once they can hold the instrument and play the song with little-to-no instruction (except for playing along and giving tempo).

Extension:

Going into the next lesson, the song will then be taught from the staff, the fingerings and note names taught in the last lesson will be taught again in a different context to teach how to read musical notations.

Reflection:

The purpose of this teaching was to become familiar with teaching multiple students an instrument at the same time, in this instance it was French horn.  I taught Abby (age 15) and Fernando (age 13) to see how just a few years in age would affect how I should teach and how students of different ages might be able to pick up on the instrument.  Going into the lesson I decided to teach the song “Hot Cross Buns” because it was very simple and they were both familiar with the tune.  Teaching a song proved to be helpful because I was able to introduce basic technique, get them familiar with a few fingerings, and begin working on articulation in a single lesson.  The experience as a whole was very educational for me in different ways.  I got to try out different methods of teaching this instrument and some ideas on how to help students that don’t get it quite right, this being my second chance at teaching an instrument to multiple students.

Not being completely comfortable with brass instruments definitely puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to teaching them, especially horn because it probably the hardest one in terms of developing technique, like having control over all of the little muscles in your lips, having to use a lot of air, and having to have a good ear.  In structuring this lesson, I did not take into account just how hard it might be for students to start on this instrument and how difficult it might be to teach even a simple song as “Hot Cross Buns.”  I even had trouble playing some of it correctly and in not being a good model for the students (sometimes I slurred and sometimes I tongued, not consistent) I may have caused some problems in how they were approaching the instrument and what they were trying to replicate.  Looking back, I think that I should not have said “copy me” or “do what I’m doing” so often because they began to think more about what I was doing rather than what they were doing.  Overall I think that I need to watch my language a little more, and not use negatives, things like “try,” and terms that they may use incorrectly.  When Abby was trying to help Fernando she was using words like squeeze, and that can cause them to tense up, which did actually happen as the lesson progressed.  Also, I found that I was saying things like “you’re doing it wrong” and I know from experience that it is not helpful to hear that, especially when you’re still trying to figure out what it is exactly that you’re supposed to be doing.

They caught onto some things fairly easy, and other things took them a lot longer. Because of this I think that I need to find more than one way to explain things, because spending so much time on one thing and not approaching it differently takes up too much time and doesn’t really work.  There were a lot of instances where I spent way too much time on one little thing when I should have just taken a moment and tried something different.  Having a back-up plan the next time I teach will definitely help me, and offer a chance at differentiated instruction.  This will help me to have more structure when I teach, and keep me conscious of what I am doing.  When I was introducing the tonguing sections I tried indicating to them using my finger, and I didn’t take into account that when we moved on I wouldn’t be able to do that, and it was just confusing to them in general.  Some other things that I noticed confusion in were the tempo and counting structure that I never really established.  With beginners I realize that I need to lay everything out for them and not just expect them to catch on because some of them may not.  I need to be more aware about the directions that I give because not everyone understands thing the same way.  Giving them clear and concise directions might also to help them keep kind of a serious attitude and tone throughout, and stay paying attention.  I noticed that as we got further into the lesson they both “checked out” at times, and this is understandable because it was their first time and the whole experience was both mentally and physically taxing.

I should have been more aware of them in general, watching a little more closely to catch any bad habits, and making sure that they were actually getting it and remained engaged.  There were some times where I was being a little too picky for beginners, and times where I was just glossing over things and only watching for a little improvement rather than addressing an actual problem.  In a sense I started to “check out” myself and I need to try harder to not let that happen.  Too many times I just moved on because I honestly didn’t know how to help them, and getting comfortable with that is something that I will have to really work on for the future.  That might mean not spend so much time on one individual, or at least don’t single them out all of the time because they may be embarrassed or get frustrated.  This teaching was the most educational for me because it shows me just how much I need to take into account when teaching, and how aware I need to be, because in the future I will be teaching more than just two students and I most likely won’t have that much time with more students.

 

 

Teaching Trumpet

Trumpet – Getting Started

Rationale:

In this lesson students beginning the trumpet will learn the basics on how to hold the instrument and play “Hot Cross Buns.”  The song and notes will not be applied to the staff (at this point) to help the student focus on getting clear sounds out of the instrument, and only focus on the one task.  Each student is different, so I will check with individuals to find the best way to approach each step to keep them comfortable and engaged.

 Materials:

  • Trumpet

Procedure:

  1. Start with buzzing on the mouthpiece
    1. Show how to put on mouth and blow a raspberry
    2. Get a clear sound
    3. Do ‘sirens’ to teach voicing
  2. Put the mouthpiece on the instrument and show how to hold
    1. Sitting up straight, holding with both hands
    2. Focus on right hands over valves, instruct the fingerings
  3. Apply buzzing from mouthpiece onto instrument
    1. Diagnose any problems producing a clear sound, don’t move on until mostly successful
    2. Don’t move on until comfortable producing sound
  4. Teach how to play “Hot Cross Buns”
    1. Take one note at a time and slowly put them together
    2. Gradually introduce rhythms and eventually play whole song

 Assessment:

Student will have successfully completed the lesson once they can hold the instrument and play the song with little-to-no instruction (except for playing along).

Extension:

Going into the next lesson, the song will then be taught from the staff, the fingerings and note names taught in the last lesson will be taught again in a different context to teach how to read musical notations.

 Reflection:

The purpose of this teaching was to become familiar with teaching multiple students an instrument at the same time, in this instance it was trumpet.  I taught Zoe (age 10) and Ethan (age 14) to see how just a few years in age would affect how I should teach and how students of different ages might be able to pick up on the instrument.  Going into the lesson I decided to teach the song “Hot Cross Buns” because it was very simple and they were both familiar with the tune.  Teaching a song proved to be helpful because I was able to introduce basic technique, get them familiar with fingerings, and begin working on articulation in a single lesson.  The experience as a whole was very educational for me in different ways.  I got to try out different methods of teaching this instrument and some ideas on how to help students that don’t get it quite right on the first try.

Ethan was able to pick up on some of the concepts easier and quicker than Zoe was, and this might be due to the age difference, but nonetheless they both presented challenges for me and it was difficult to be able to deal with both of their issues at the same time.  When I noticed that Ethan was doing well in an area and Zoe was not, I tried to get him to help her as much as possible because I felt that he was getting to the level of being able to understand what was going on and I also felt that she might understand advice coming from a peer better than a teacher.  Zoe did not participate so much in helping to address Ethan’s issues, and this might have been due to the age difference, she might have felt like because he was older she wouldn’t have anything to say that might help him.  It also might have been that she wasn’t understanding everything in the way that Ethan was, and this is completely fine in the context of this lesson.  She did have more difficulty in getting to play the song, but as the lesson progressed she seemed to be getting used to it and began to make progress.  She was not able to play the whole song completely right, but she was on the way there and came very far in just one short lesson.

There were times in this lesson that I felt like I was pushing them too hard, or at least Zoe; expecting too much of them for the level that they were starting at.  There were moments that I realized she was getting overwhelmed with how fast everything was going and I tried to slow things down because of it.  I actually became overwhelmed over time because they were both progressing at different levels and I wasn’t sure how to be able to continue with Zoe and at the same time keep Ethan moving to keep him from getting bored.  It was at these times that I looked to him for help with Zoe.  By getting him to help me diagnose Zoe it kept him engaged and also helped him improve things that he was already doing right and also understand things on a different level.  This was also beneficial to Zoe because she was getting input from someone that was figuring it out with her, instead of someone that knew what was going on already and might not be able to explain things in the way that she needed.

I tried to reinforce everything, to make sure that they were getting it and wouldn’t forget as we went on, but I feel that in the beginning I did that a little too much.  I was trying to get them to get used to playing the part, in the hopes that they would be able to figure things out on their own, but sometimes that created frustration.  They would get frustrated when they couldn’t do the exact same thing multiple times in a row and sometimes that set them back.  This was my fault; I was trying too hard to get them perfect too soon when I should have just been looking for other ways to help them.  Towards the end I think that I pushed them too hard to keep going, when I should have just stopped because they knew how to play it and did successfully complete it.  Going forward I think that I need to find more of a balance with teaching but also reinforcing, and maybe adapt the way that I talk or give instructions to help them better understand me.