Lack of Fundamentals Being Taught At School

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. Still Trying

    Still Trying Pianissimo User

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    Nov 23, 2003
    Lake Jackson, TX USA
    At least from where I attended school, things do not appear to have changed much in the last 40 or so years. I attended an elementary school way out in the sticks, as we used to say. We had two grades in a classroom, and a total of three teachers in the school. A visiting music teacher dropped by twice a week, but she only taught stringed instruments. The classroom teachers organized the students into a choir, and we sang songs a couple of times a week. I couldn't join a band until I entered the 7th grade and got bused "into town" to attend junior high and high school.

    In junior high, my band director was a French Horn player, and my high school band director had at one time played cornet. He had not touched a horn in years to actually play one. Neither of these teachers ever gave me a single pointer about how to play trumpet. They did, however, teach me a great deal about music appreciation. In high school we also had a symphony orchestra, whose conductor played both sax and violin. He taught me more than all the other teachers combined. He made us listen to ear training tapes every day. He made us sight read every day. He made us learn scales. Etc. And he not only taught orchestra, he also lead the stage band. He taught me how to improvise, such as I do. He was a great teacher. But he couldn't teach me much about trumpet per se, because he was a reed player.

    If it had not been for my self-taught Dad at home, who showed me what he could, I probably wouldn't have stayed with trumpet at all. But Dad taught me how to count, how to finger the notes, and saw to it that I practiced. Come to think of it, he taught me how to transpose also. He used to make me play out of a church hymnal all the time and transpose the music by sight. Mostly what he taught me was to practice each and every day-a valuable lesson. And he bought me a set of Mendez playing Arban single tongue exercises, which I used to play along with every day, when I was 10 or 11 years old. And he bought me a ton of Mendez solos (every time Mendez came out with a new album) to try to play by the time I was 12 or 13. At least he set some pretty high goals for me to try to reach. But my band directors just took advantage of what I was learning off campus and of my practice habits. They surely did not contribute anything to my trumpet knowledge.

    I think band directors had better discipline, and demanded more from students in band, when I was in school. We played some pretty hard music back then. But at least in my case, they didn't really teach you how to play your instrument. You had to have an outside source of instruction for that. Fortunately, when I got to college, I had an excellent instructor.
     
  2. Scottied

    Scottied New Friend

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    Dec 31, 2003
    PA
    Trumpet Fundamentals

    This is not a slam on any of you, but do you realy know what your band directors do?

    From a teacher who services two buidlings, runs the entire instrumental program for grades 4- 12. I'm at a small school, graduates 60 -80 kids a year. What do we do? 75 kids in the elementary, at the elementary we offer: group lessons: 3 - 5 in a group, Begining band - all first year players, Advanced Band (grades 5 & 6), and a new group of select students the Elementary Trumpet Ensemble. At the high school: jr. high band (7th grade band), Senior high concert band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, a jazz combo, (jr. high mets every other day and sr. band meets everyday, all others in the evening) and a music theory course 2 days a week after the school day. There are no lessons for high school kids, I offer my time away from my family on Saturday lessons for them to get prepared for Honor's band, District band, Regional band, state band and county band.


    Instead of saying the director is clueless or does not teach the fundamentals, ask if you can go and observe the director for a day. It is always great to have a parent really see what happens in elementary lessons or a band rehearsal. Even the ones who have amusical background are amazed at what I do and why I do it for their kids! I'm sure that as some of you have described, the teacher is giving her/his all, but without support from parents, administrators, and other staff memebrs, it doesnt matter what they do. Offer to do master classes for them. volunteer to work with sections of the band.

    I know I cover fundamentals in every class that I have. The kids will tell you the same thing, I preach them. But it doesn't mean that they always get them right away. The older kids have to be reminded of them all the time. The little kids, I even remind them when I pass them in the hallway!

    Keep encouraging them to practice, that is something that appears in all of the posts.....as a musician, we already know why it is important...putting that in terms that the little kids get, is often a problem...don't forget, it took some of you working with someone at home to be successful.....maybe the other kids do not have this! thats why I say to volunteer!!!!!

    If I can help anyone in any way, please let me know!

    Scott DiTullio
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Scott, I didn't mean to offend anyone by my little rant that I started, but yeah, I do know what goes on in that school and in that band program and for a couple of reasons. For one, I have been in that school on a regular basis for about 12 years because my wife is a 3rd grade teacher there. I've seen the directors come and I have seen them go and I knew what they were about long before my son started taking an instrument.

    I do know how overwhelmed and overworked they are and the school system is as much to blame as the director themselves. When I was a beginning band student, I had band at least 3 times a week and some years I had it every day. This poor soul schleps her way around to at least 3 different schools and is always having her time cut into by other teachers that don't want to release their students to her in a timely manner. Then there is the doubly frustrating aspect that the first years are dumped in with the second years, which holds everyone back. On top of all of this is the fact that the band, next to the strings, is treated like the red-headed step child. At the concerts, thanks to the fact that the strings director pounds the piano into oblivion, obscuring the most offensive of the strings noise, the band sounds clunky by comparisson. She has the parents buffaloed into thinking that the strings are better than the band, so when the time comes for the kids to choose, they are usually pressed into playing strings by their parents.

    I'm just frustrated because when I think back to what I knew and what I could do by the time I had played for a year or so, I was quite a ways further than my son is and I think that it has less to do with our respective abilities than with the amount of instruction that we received. Like I said, in just a few days time I have him doing things that I feel he should have already known.
     
  4. Scottied

    Scottied New Friend

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    Dec 31, 2003
    PA
    Patrick,

    I do understand...it is obvious that your child has progressed because of your support! Something that is missing from most families these days. If you have seen the turn around so many times, what can be done about it? If you can volunteer a few hours a week, just think what progress some of the other students could make also....it could be really cool for you to sit in on a reahearsal and play with the entire band. My experiences show that the little kids love this....look, there's Johny's dad...he is so cool, he even knows how to play the trumpet. I have found that this motivates the kids so much....sometimes, it is all it takes to get them all to practice!

    It would be great to have you as a parent at my school. I get great support from them, but they do not always have a musical background. They all understand the conflicts that happen,but are lost as to how to help.

    Scott
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    I wish that I had the time for that sort of thing. Unfortunately, like many others, I'm chained to a desk, dealing with the "American Dream".

    But, last night my son went for a play date with a 4th grader who coincidentally is a first year trumpet player, and after they came to my place and we had dinner, I took both boys down to my little workshop/studio for a lesson. Obviously, he's quite a bit more raw than my son, but the potential is there and I gave him three things to work on:

    1. Long tones - I told him to pick any note and work on holding it for as long as he can, concentrating on holding the tone steady and even and playing with a clear sound.

    2. Articulation - I told him to again, just pick any note and single tongue the heck out of it.

    3. I have him working on the first half of a Bb concert scale (C, D, E, F, G) both ascending and descending so that his fingers start to learn the pattern.

    For him, that's enough right now. If he works on those 3 things consistently for two weeks, it will take him quite a ways toward being able to actually play something.
     
  6. Scottied

    Scottied New Friend

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    Dec 31, 2003
    PA
    Congrats! as a teacher, I'll predict that your son is going to becoe prety popular becasue of his cool Dad. My guess is that you will see new friends arriving, when everyone starts to hear what your sonand his friend are doing on the trumpet.

    I understand busy schedules! Maybe there would be a way for the kids to stay after school....or maybe a Satuday morning, that you could give a master class for all of them.

    As much as I know you don't want to hear this, make sure to compliment the music teacher for her/his work with the kids, that you are hearing such a big improvement in your son! As you have stated previously, he/she isprobably going in many directions. This might give him/her a wake-up call to realize that they are missing something in the Lessons with the kids! Even if it is you who the credit is due to!

    I see the important thing in the big picture......two kis are improving on their instruments, and as they improve, so does the entire music program!

    Scott
     

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