Summerglen Band Blog

Fun and helpful musical info for elementary band students and their families.

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Great Start, Hortons Creek! Now, Let’s Keep Our Success Going

October 6th, 2020 · No Comments

Our first week of Hortons Creek Band is complete, and both bands are building a foundation for an excellent year of music-making. Now, our job as parents and teachers is to keep that success going. Here are 3 things you can do this week to support your child’s musical growth:

1. Find a place and time for your child to practice. When kids have a distraction-free place and a consistent time to play their instruments each day, practice becomes much easier and turns into a habit!

2. Ask your child to play for you. Even though your child won’t be able to play beautiful songs at this point in her musical development, it’s still important for her to have an appreciative audience. If you don’t understand what your child is doing, ask him to “teach” you–you may learn something about music you never knew, and you’ll give your child a big confidence boost!

3. Help your child with organization. To succeed in band, our children need to bring their music, stands, and instruments to rehearsal. With your child, create a plan to make being prepared for band rehearsal easier!

As always, if you have any questions, please e-mail Ms. Thompson. Have a fun and musical week!

→ No CommentsTags: good musicianship · helping your child succeed

Music Reading Challenges…And How Parents Can Help

August 20th, 2020 · No Comments

This week at Alston Ridge and Parkside, our band students are beginning the process of learning to read music! Reading music can be challenging for young musicians; fortunately, there are many ways that parents can help make it easier. One great way to help your children is to understand the difficulties they’re facing as they learn to read, and respond to them with encouragement and support. Here are several common troubles that young musicians may have during the early stages of music reading, and ways you can help:

1. “This is too hard! I quit!” For many students, learning to read music is a very difficult and frustrating endeavor. After all, learning to read music is a lot like learning an entirely new language. If your child becomes frustrated during practice at this stage, encourage her to take a 5-minute break and return to practice when she feels more relaxed. Also, working in smaller chunks can make learning to read music less overwhelming.

2. Trouble getting through an entire piece. One major reason that kids get frustrated with music reading is that they try to “bite off more than they can chew”–they attempt to play an entire piece without stopping, but their technique isn’t strong enough to accomplish this quite yet. If your child is annoyed because he can’t play a whole piece in the band book, encourage him to concentrate instead on one or two measures. Small steps lead to big improvements!

3. The pieces at beginning of the book are boring, but the ones later in the book are too hard. When students begin reading music, the pieces they’re able to play aren’t exactly exciting. However, these simple pieces of music help students gain important musical understanding, skills that enable them to build a strong foundation for future musical success. Even if your child doesn’t enjoy these early pieces, encourage her to practice them carefully anyway. By mastering easy tunes today, your child creates the possibility to succeed at tougher music down the road.

→ No CommentsTags: helping your child succeed · music reading · practice

Summertime is Instrument Time!

June 3rd, 2020 · No Comments

It’s summer, the perfect time for lemonade, swimming pools, and….getting ready for band in the fall! Taking a little time over the summer to find a band instrument and materials for your child can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. However, for band parents who don’t have musical backgrounds, it can be hard to know where to find a quality instrument. Here are 3 great places to start looking for your child’s instrument:

1. Marsh Woodwinds – Marsh Woodwinds is like a candy store for musicians–rows of beautiful instruments hung on the walls, the giants of jazz floating from the speakers, and knowledgeable people behind every counter. Marsh has a large inventory of used beginner instruments made by trusted brands; rest assured, you’ll come away with an instrument that your child can enjoy for years to come. They also have all the oils, greases, swabs, and other accessories your child will need in band. Check out http://www.marshwoodwinds.com or visit their store at 707 N. Person St., Raleigh NC 27604.

2. 2112 Percussion – This is the candy store for musicians who like to hit stuff! If you plan to play percussion in the Wiley Band, 2112 is your best bet for getting a nice instrument and meeting some awesome pro percussionists. When you visit 2112, make sure to tell the person at the counter that you’re starting beginning band, and need a beginning percussion kit. 2112 usually stocks these toward the end of the summer, but they will be happy to order one especially for you. I recommend getting a percussion kit with a practice pad, not a snare drum, for beginning band students.

3. Craigslist - Smart shoppers can find great instruments on Craigslist, as long as they know what they’re looking for. If you find an instrument on Craigslist, send Ms. Thompson the listing, and she’ll be glad to give you guidance on whether or not to buy. If she’s able, she’ll even come out and look at the instrument with you!

Remember, the earlier you shop, the better! People who find instruments in the summer beat the fall rush, and are assured of having an instrument for Band Camp on August 16th. Happy shopping!

→ No CommentsTags: getting an instrument · summer preparation

Summer: A HOT Time to Grow Musically!

May 30th, 2020 · No Comments

After a long year of playing in band class, many kids are tempted to stuff their instruments in the closet on the last day of school and leave them there until fall. Unfortunately, forgetting about one’s instrument over the summer can lead to needless frustration down the road. In this article, you’ll learn why summer is one of the best times to play music, and discover easy ways to grow as a musician when the weather’s hot.

Why play over the summer?
Musicians are athletes and strategic thinkers. We train our muscles to perform precise actions, and use our brains to do the detective work involved in fixing musical problems. When we use our musical skills, we make them stronger, sharper, and better. On the other hand, when we stop practicing, we become out-of-shape. Just like having to go on a diet after overeating on Thanksgiving is no fun, returning to music at the end of a practice-less summer is very frustrating! When you keep playing, you prevent yourself from growing a musical potbelly, and you build musical muscle with every note you play.

Practicing over the summer doesn’t just help you grow musically; it keeps your thinking skills polished as well. Playing music presents us with a variety of problems to solve, like “Why did I miss that note?” and “How is this supposed to go?” When you practice thoughtfully, you’re building valuable problem solving skills that can help you in many subjects besides music. By practicing, you’re actually preparing yourself to do well in school next year–no textbooks required!

Another reason to keep practicing is practical–to keep your instrument in good working order. Regular use keeps instruments healthy; when you don’t play your instrument for months on end, problems develop that can result in costly repairs. If the valves on a trumpet aren’t moved regularly, the oil dries up and the valves get stuck. Likewise, stashing a clarinet in the garage all summer can cause its pads to pop off, making it unplayable. Every fall, repair shops are flooded with instruments that are broken due to a summer of neglect. If you play all summer, though, you can save that repair money to buy something you’ll really enjoy.

Instruments aren’t the only things that suffer when left unused. Imagine your first day of band class after summer break. You take out your instrument just like you did last year, but something’s different. That pretty tone you developed last year is gone, and you’ve forgotten half your fingerings. The instrument that you once played easily now feels awkward in your hands. Discouraging, huh? Fortunately, this story doesn’t have to come true. If you choose to play over the summer, odds are you’ll return to school sounding GREAT!

How Parents Can Help
The first step to helping your child to practice over the summer is developing a positive outlook on summer practice, and communicating it to your child. Practicing over the summer doesn’t mean your child won’t be able to relax and enjoy the vacation; it just means he’ll spend a few minutes each day playing music. While practicing an instrument requires effort, it’s also a fun activity that doesn’t need to take up much time. If you present practice as a drudgery that will take all the fun out of summer, it’s likely that your child will put her instrument down. However, if you frame practice as a fun and creative activity, your child will be more likely to excitedly continue playing.

You may also want to talk to your child about the benefits of continuing to play music over the summer. Ask your child about her experiences this year in band class. Does she enjoy how she plays? Has he learned a lot? Then, introduce the summer as a great time to become even better at music, inviting your child to imagine how great she’ll sound after 3 more months of practice. If your child has a competitive streak, have him imagine what might happen on the first day of school if he practices and no one else does. What will the teacher’s face look like when she hears that wonderful sound? What will the other students say? Imagining positive outcomes can help motivate your child to keep practicing.

Another great way to motivate your child to practice over the summer is to augment your regular music lessons with fun musical camps. Many local music schools offer mini-camps that focus on different kinds of music. Camps like these give kids the opportunity to learn about new musical topics and styles in a fun atmosphere, and provide plenty of chances to make new friends. Also, universities like UNC-Greensboro offer weeklong band camps designed for young musicians. These camps are especially exciting for kids, because they allow them to meet new friends, play challenging music, and stay at a real college campus.

If you’re short on cash, just being there for your child can help. Encourage her to find a special time and place to practice, and make sure that you show your support of your child’s musical endeavors regularly. Consider having “concerts” at your house, where your child gets a chance to play for family and friends. If you have a recording device, try making recordings of your child playing a piece of music at the beginning of the summer. Then, at the end of the summer, help your child make another recording of the same piece. Make a point to watch or listen to both recordings side by side, and celebrate the progress your child has made by practicing over the summer.

→ No CommentsTags: helping your child succeed · practice

Great Flute Performances – Sir James & Lady Jeanne Galway

March 29th, 2020 · No Comments

Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway are two of the leading flute players of our time. Both musicians perform all over the world, and devote a great deal of time to helping young flute players through workshops and masterclasses. To learn more about them, please visit their websites:

Lady Jeanne

Sir James

→ No CommentsTags: Live Music

Great Percussion Performances – Evelyn Glennie

March 22nd, 2020 · No Comments

Evelyn Glennie is a virtuoso percussionist from Scotland. Dame Glennie is the first full-time solo percussion artist in modern Western history, giving over 100 performances each year. One interesting fact about Dame Glennie is that she has been profoundly deaf from age 12–but this hasn’t stopped her from reaching the highest levels of musical performance. She has discovered ways to use different parts of her body, like her feet, to hear the music.

To learn more about Dame Glennie, please visit her website.

→ No CommentsTags: great performances · videos

Great Trumpet Performances – Maurice Andre

March 18th, 2020 · No Comments

Maurice André was a French trumpet master who lived from 1933-2012. Mr. André began studying trumpet with a family friend, and then joined a military band so he could attend conservatory for free. After only six months at the conservatory, he won a prize for his playing. He went on to perform thousands of concerts and create over 300 recordings as a trumpet soloist, and his work helped establish the trumpet as a solo instrument.

Here is a website with more info about Mr. André.

→ No CommentsTags: great performances · videos

Great Trombone Performances – Christian Lindberg

March 15th, 2020 · No Comments

Christian Lindberg is a trombonist, conductor, and composer from Sweden. Mr. Lindberg began his professional career at age 19–only two years after he started playing trombone! As his career progressed, Mr. Lindberg became well-known as a virtuoso trombone soloist. He has recorded over 60 albums, and continues to make major contributions to the musical world.

To learn more about Mr. Lindberg, please visit his website.

→ No CommentsTags: great performances · videos

Great Saxophone Performances – Marcel Mule

March 1st, 2020 · No Comments

Marcel Mule was a French classical saxophonist who lived from 1901-2001. Throughout his career, Mr. Mule was well-known as a masterful performer and an extraordinary teacher. In addition, he composed, arranged, and premiered many compositions for saxophone, greatly expanding the number of pieces available for future saxophonists to play.

To learn more about Mr. Mule, click here.

→ No CommentsTags: great performances · videos

Great Clarinet Performances – Sabine Meyer

February 22nd, 2020 · No Comments

Sabine Meyer is a renowned clarinet soloist from Germany. She began taking clarinet lessons as a young child, and made her solo debut at age 16. Since then, Ms. Meyer has performed with symphony orchestras and chamber groups all over the world.

To learn more about Ms. Meyer, please visit her website.

→ No CommentsTags: great performances · videos