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Directors’ Toolbox

Directors' Toolbox

8 Tips for Teaching Orchestra for the Non-String Player

May 7, 2019

Perhaps you’re a long-time band director asked to start a string program at your school. Or you’re a first-year teacher looking at limited job options that may include any combination of band, chorus, or strings. However you find yourself in this situation, the lack of a string playing background shouldn’t deter you from taking on the position of orchestra director. Being prepared and willing to learn can lead to an extremely rewarding teaching experience. Here are a few tips and resources to get you started:
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Directors' Toolbox

Summer Resources for Young Pianists

April 30, 2019

Believe it or not, summer vacation is not far off. Students are undoubtedly excited about that, and for piano teachers and the parents of young piano players, summer provides hidden opportunities for growth. Learning the piano is a fun experience for everyone involved, but it also takes a real commitment. For those unable to continue lessons during the summer, it can be a challenge to keep up.

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Directors' Toolbox

How to Plan Visuals for Your Marching Band

April 18, 2019

The pressure to create visually spectacular marching band shows can be high in the age of short attention spans, reality TV competition shows, and social media. Some large universities have met the challenge by creating exciting performances featuring drill sets with detailed picture formations and transitions. Many high schools have responded by incorporating creative and challenging shows. Regardless of the level of complexity, some basics need to be in place to help students entertain the crowds. Here are some ideas on how to help your students have the best marching experience possible.

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Directors' Toolbox

Helping Students Select a Summer Music Program

March 28, 2019

It may not feel like it, but the academic year is coming to an end. When the doors to the school building close for the summer, instrument cases all too often close with them. Rather than let a year’s hard work be erased by three months without music, consider a summer music program to keep your students’ minds sharp. We spoke to Dr. Jenny Neff, Associate Professor of Music Education and Director of Summer Music Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia about finding the right program for young musicians and making sure they get the most out of it. She offers unique perspectives, having been a former camper, counselor, and director at the New England Music Camp.

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Directors' Toolbox

Avoiding a Sheet Music Emergency

January 22, 2019

To those of us in the sheet music biz, contest and festival season is also known as “score season.” Contests and festivals are great opportunities to showcase your performing groups outside of school and get feedback from judges. It also leaves a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong – you’ve selected your pieces and rehearsed your group, but did you remember to get your required scores for the judges? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before entering score season.

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Directors' Toolbox

How to Help Students with Special Needs in Music Class

January 15, 2019

Dr. Alice Hammel remembers when Vinnie started school. He had frequent outbursts and struggled throughout most of his elementary school years; eventually, he was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Dr. Hammel, who is a nationally recognized expert on teaching music to children of all ages with special needs, said Vinnie was unusual in that he could not match pitch – at all.

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Directors' Toolbox

Preparing Students for Auditions

December 4, 2018

It never failed. Late November into December, when my performing groups were approaching the final stages of concert preparation, one or more students would ask me, “Can you help me prepare a piece for my audition?” Most of the time it was for an early college audition, or an audition for a musical. “When is your audition, and what are you planning to sing?” were my first questions. The answer was predictable: “I’m not sure when it is, and I was hoping you could help me choose a song!”

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Directors' Toolbox

Vocal Health: How Choral Directors Can Help Students

October 2, 2018

One of the most important but sometimes overlooked jobs of a choral director is to help their students take care of their voices. With the stress of repertoire preparation and the other time-consuming aspects of our job, it can be something that we cognitively recognize but don’t necessarily have the time or energy to pursue. Our students, no matter the age, are going through critical times in their vocal development. We ask a lot of them vocally – range, projection, volume, facial expression, blend, tone, and many other skills – and we need to help them protect their voices and learn to care for them in a healthy way.

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