The Importance of the Recorder

There are very few instruments that are as annoying as the recorder. Its squeaky, airy, whistling sound can be distracting and irritating, and it has even become the center of various memes — people laugh at its quavering tone, especially when it is being used to play Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” However, despite its modern infamy and tendency to be ridiculed, it can play a large and beneficial role in the development of a child’s music education. Continue reading “The Importance of the Recorder”

SJSU Wind Ensemble

I just got back from an absolutely wonderful concert from San Jose State’s Wind Ensemble; there was a beautiful balance between all the different sections, and there was a clear passion in the musicians’ performance as they subtly swayed back and forth with the music, fading into it. Directed by Dr. Edward Harris, the ensemble performed Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F, Viet Cuong’s Diamond Tide, Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major for Piccolo, and John Mackey’s Aurora Awakes. The Vivaldi piece featured soloist Catherine Payne, who guides the San Jose State flute studio. Continue reading “SJSU Wind Ensemble”

Choosing the Right Reed

When playing instruments such as clarinet, saxophone, oboe, and bassoon, the reed can make all the difference. This thin little piece of bamboo can determine the control one has over his instrument, or even the kind of sound and style he wants to make. Without a reed, these instruments will not make any sort of sound — it is of the utmost importance that students select reeds that are appropriate for their skill level and targeted sound. Continue reading “Choosing the Right Reed”

March Fourth!

cropped-15037271_10210226988778537_1216626721793742348_n.jpgOn March 4th, band members everywhere took to social media with the hashtag “#marchfourth” (a play on the phrase “march forth”) to celebrate the magic that is marching band. DCI (Drum Corps International) has pushed for the holiday to be nationally recognized for several years now in order to promote and garner mass support for marching bands. In marching bands, students learn how to memorize music, work as a team, pay attention to detail, play with strength and confidence, and walk with an 8-to-5 swagger. Continue reading “March Fourth!”

Challenging for the Chair

There is always a battle for first chair, even at the tender age of eleven. At that age, it is quite validating to be considered the best — this is what the students at my middle school would brag about. However, when I was in eighth grade all the music teachers at my school decided to eliminate the “chair” system in which the students would compete for the seat in which the supposedly best instrumentalist would sit and get to play all the solos. The question is: are chair competitions effective and optimal for middle and high school ensembles? Continue reading “Challenging for the Chair”

How to Support

There are so many benefits to music education, and there are so many wonderful programs across the country creating safe havens for students of all backgrounds. However, many of these programs are underfunded and in danger of collapsing. On top of this, rumors have been circulating in the media since President Trump’s inauguration that he is considering cutting the small 0.003% of the federal budget that is dedicated to the National Endowment for the Arts and instead redirecting it towards military spending. It is of utmost importance to protect these programs, but the question is: how? Continue reading “How to Support”

Students: Be Prepared

reeds-and-cork-greaseMusic classes are often stimulating and fun, but if one is not prepared, they can be hard to get through. I cannot begin to tell you how many times — from fourth grade up until college marching band last semester — I have been approached by a peer in complete and utter distress: “Do you have an extra reed? I’ll pay you back tomorrow, I promise!” Sometimes people forget valve oil, and sometimes they forget their instruments entirely, so here we will cover what students need for class and how to prevent oneself from forgetting these items. Continue reading “Students: Be Prepared”

Incorporating Pop Culture

Josh Dun Playing Trumpet at SAP CenterOver the weekend I attended a Twenty One Pilots concert. How does an eclectic and wildly popular alternative band relate to music education? Well, while playing their song, “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV,” drummer Josh Dun put down his drum sticks and pulled a trumpet out from behind his kit, and then stood up and played the chorus. It was not any sort of amazing trumpet solo, and for most concertgoers it was just another cool example of how versatile this band is. However, for kids in their school bands, this could have been some sort of a monumental moment. Continue reading “Incorporating Pop Culture”

Band at Simonds Elementary School

Outside the LibraryIt was a dark and stormy night, but this isn’t some dark and cliche horror story: it is one of laughter and learning. Once a week at 6:45 pm at Simonds Elementary School, students of various ages meet up and hold band classes. High schoolers lead these classes of fourth and fifth graders, teaching them how to play specific instruments and read sheet music. Despite the downpour on this one night, all these kids could be seen happily bounding to their designated classrooms, their giggling echoing through the hallways and competing with the sound of the pounding rain. Continue reading “Band at Simonds Elementary School”

Give the Kids Your Trust

It all starts with a single instrument. Some people start taking piano lessons because their parents forced them to when they were five years old, other people pick up a guitar when they discover Green Day in middle school, and still others fall in love with singing. There are a multitude of ways in which people are introduced to music, but they often remember that introduction forever, as it influences the role music plays in their lives. Because this can be such a pivotal moment for a person, one must go about this introduction very carefully.
Continue reading “Give the Kids Your Trust”