Summerglen Band Blog

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

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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

Common Practice Mistakes – Part 3

February 16th, 2020 · No Comments

Welcome to Part 3 of our series about things NOT to do in your practice! Last time, we talked about two big practice pitfalls–lack of focus and ignoring our problems. Today, we finish out our series with two very common practice troubles: one-way practicing and always starting at the beginning.

6. One Way Practicing
One way practicing means what it says; we use only one approach in our practice, like playing a piece over and over. Sometimes the best practice we can do isn’t necessarily playing–it may be counting, fingering, or drilling ourselves on note names. If we’re having trouble with rhythm, counting may be the best solution. If we get lost in our music, going through and saying our note names may help us find our way. One Way practicing is a one-way ticket to frustration, but using different approaches in our practice gives us extra freedom and makes practice more productive.

7. Always Starting at the Beginning

This is a trap that is extremely easy to fall into. When we start at the beginning of a piece every time, we end up knowing the first few bars very well, but barely touching the rest of the piece. This approach also keeps us from fixing trouble spots, because always starting at the beginning keeps us from isolating problems in other parts of the piece. Fixing this problem is as easy as starting in a different place. We can start in a random place and see if we can play it, or start right on a troublesome spot. When we start in different places, we get to know the piece from different angles. And the more we know, the better we play!

Are these problems plaguing your practice? Try doing the exact opposite of these troubles this week, and see what happens! If you need help making your practice more effective, be sure to talk to Ms. T; she’s happy to help.

→ No CommentsTags: practice

Common Practice Mistakes – Part 2

February 9th, 2020 · No Comments

Welcome to Part 2 of our series about things NOT to do in your practice! Last time, we talked about the dangers of practicing too little and not practicing consistently. Today, we tackle two big problems–lack of focus and ignoring our problems.

4. Unfocused Practice

One step above pseudo-practice is unfocused practice. This is like practicing on autopilot–we don’t think about what we’re doing or keep track of where we are in our music. As a result, we miss chances to fix trouble spots, and end up not knowing our instrument very well. When we focus on our notes, keep track of how our hands are moving, and make the effort to subdivide, it’s possible to practice half as long and accomplish twice as much. (And, we can use the time we save to do other things we enjoy!)

5. Ignoring Your Weak Spots
It’s no big deal to have weak spots as a musician–we all do! But when we ignore these weak areas, we can severely cripple our playing. If we have trouble with reading music, playing along with a CD won’t help us very much. If scales are tough, not practicing them will only make them harder. We become great players not just because we practice, but because we work on every aspect of our playing, even the stuff we’re not good at.

Are either of these blunders showing up in your practice room? If so, what are you going to do this week to practice in a more healthy way?

→ No CommentsTags: practice