The Instrumentalist

Articles September 2011

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Literature:
Music We Love, Top Composers Reflect on Overlooked Gems
An all-star cast of composers joined us on a treasure hunt for the overlooked gems of the band repertoire. We asked participants to identify one memorable composition by another composer and one from their own work that holds special meaning. Works by Fisher Tull, Peter Mennin, and Vincent Persichetti were among those highlighted as deserving wider concert programming.
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Instrumentalist Classic:
Mennin’s Canzona
This work was the one most mentioned by the composers surveyed. Mennin’s “free-spirited approach fell into no particular school of compositional style; he allowed the basic materials of his craft to dictate direction, rather than forcing ideas into a predetermined form.” (This analysis was originally published in 1989.)
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Advice for New Teachers:
Tales From First Year Teachers
“Three weeks into the school year I had to take my middle school band to a parade; they didn’t know how to march. We only knew two songs, and I had maybe ten kids. The principal insisted that I do it for public relations reasons and said the parents would be very upset if we didn’t march – but they didn’t read music.”
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Teaching:
Taking Care of Tuning
“Twice a year students should survey every note on their instrument with a tuner to see where the natural center of each pitch is. Every note on an instrument has a center, a pitch where the note is naturally most resonant. Ideally this is at zero on a tuner, but that is not always the case.”
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Teaching:
Beginning Composition Lessons
“One requirement for student compositions is that the whole band should be able to play what they write. This can be tricky because the best three or four players write pieces that most students cannot play.”
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Brass Clinic:
The Ins and Outs of Buying Tubas
Tubas come in a dizzying array of sizes and shapes, making decisions on what to purchase difficult for directors. Because most will have to buy several during their career, here are some tips for sorting through the options.
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Woodwind Clinic:
A Guide to Better Flute Intonation
“Band directors often tune young flutists by eyeing a tuner and instructing them to pull out until the tuner looks right. That works, but only if they play nothing but the tuning note, and the student and director can live with a breathy, airy sound, completely lacking in focus.”
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Percussion Clinic:
Picking Timpanists
Young percussionists are sometimes daunted by the difficulties of tuning and playing timpani well. A thorough evaluation by the director can help find those students best suited to play timpani.
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Notes from Northfield:
Happy New Year
The start of the school year.
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One Quick Question:
From Average to Outstanding
From a judge’s perspective, what is the difference between an average marching performance and an exceptional one?
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Life of Reely:
Understanding Band Directors
“The band director is the only person in the school district who knows what a European professional extended propylene double contra fipple flute is and shows great frustration when the school district does not see the need for it and will not buy it.”
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