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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Category: Music Education

Article: Director’s Toolbox – Lead from the Bottom by Patrick Sheridan

Andrew Hitz

Pat Sheridan.jpg

Here is a fantastic read by my good friend Patrick Sheridan on engaging and challenging the tuba players in your band. This is must-read!

From the article:

Children want to be given responsibility! There are three responsibilities (opportunities) that belong to the lowest voice of an ensemble. The laws of acoustics dictate this scientifically.

They include:

1. Sound foundation of an ensemble
2. Intonation
3. Time

Patrick expands on all three of these points. Read the full article here.

You can also click on the logo below to hear my interview (along with Lance LaDuke) with Patrick from Episode 35 of The Brass Junkies.

Article: "Stop 'Defending' Music Education"

Andrew Hitz

Here is a thought-provoking article by Peter Greene titled "Stop 'Defending' Music Education". He makes some really great points that should be read by everyone.

Today I ran across one more xeroxed handout touting the test-taking benefits of music education, defending music as a great tool for raising test scores and making students smarter. It was just one more example among many of the “keep music because it helps with other things” pieces out there.

I really wish people would stop “defending” music education like this.

I get that music programs are under intense pressure, that all across America they are sitting hunched over with one nervous eye on a hooded figure stalking the halls with a big budgetary ax. Music programs are watching administrators race by, frantically chasing test scores and ignoring music in schools. So it may seem like a natural step to go running after the testing crowd hollering, “Hey, I can help with that, too.”

Don’t. Just don’t.

You can find the article here.

The Meters: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

The Meters are a funk band from New Orleans. Their music is stripped down, not flashy, and just oozing with groove and character.

If you or a student of yours are looking for a way to work on groove, you can use this album as a tool.

Three Ways to Work on Groove:

  1. You can have them sing along with any of these tracks. Have them start with just one note and encourage them to make it "fit into the song." Be sure to point out that fewer notes are better than a lot of notes when starting out.
  2. Next have them play along with any of the tracks on just one note. It is pretty incredible how quickly even a young player will start to feel the concept of groove when they play along with an album like this.
  3. Finally, have them play some very basic hand percussion along with it. A shaker, claves, anything laying around the band room. You can also have them march around the band room in time with the music to feel the groove.

I've seen this kind of thing work wonders with students of all ages and ability levels.

Happy grooving!

Why a Double Major in Music Ed as a "Fall Back" Option is a Bad Idea

Andrew Hitz

Below is a post I made to my Facebook page a few days ago that resonated with enough people (300 likes and almost 40 shares) that I thought I would post it here as well.

For anyone planning on adding a double major in music education as a "fall back" option: My wife was at school this morning at 9:00 am setting up her band room before the start of school this week.

That would be 9:00 am on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.

If you don't have a burning desire to be a music educator, you are insane to do this for a living. Best case scenario you end up a mediocre band director. Worst case scenario you end up complaining all day every day to anyone and everyone about being over worked and under paid and make the entire profession look bad.

For those of you who do have that burning desire, our hats are off to each one of you. Society could never say thank you enough times.


(The comments on the original post are quite good.)

Two Quotes to Help You Get to the Next Level

Andrew Hitz

"Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a strength."
-Ranaan Meyer
"You need to be brutally honest with yourself about what you can and can't do on the horn."
-Joe Alessi

Honest appraisal of one's abilities is the first step in improving any skill.  The key is constantly practicing both the things you can do and the things you can't do so your assessment of your own abilities is not out of date.

Do you have an accurate assessment of your strengths and weaknesses today?

Weeding Out the Unnecessary

Andrew Hitz

This is a good thing for me to remember in the new year.  It is hard to weed out what is unnecessary or distracting for a student when I am using a lot of words.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to say more with fewer words when I'm teaching.

Collection of Diaphragm Control Exercises

Andrew Hitz

We all want to improve our breathing, both on and off the horn.  After seeing a vocal coach on television tell a singer to "expand your diaphragm out", I decided to do some research.  I have scoured the internet and believe that I have compiled an exhaustive list of every available exercise that will help with controlling the diaphragm.

Here is the complete list of exercises I found:

Which one is your favorite?

Photo  by National Cancer Institute is in the Public Domain

Photo by National Cancer Institute is in the Public Domain

Free Copy of Lance LaDuke's Music Practice Coach

Andrew Hitz

For a limited time, my partner at Pedal Note Media, Lance LaDuke, is giving away free copies of his book Music Practice Coach.  All you have to do is go to his website and sign up for his email list.  It's that simple.

Music Practice Coach is a book that I require all of my college students to purchase and use regularly.  It is a fantastic practice method that is written in a simple, straightforward way.  Even tuba players have no problem understanding it!

The entire book is about goal-oriented practice and is a truly marvelous method.  ALL MUSIC EDUCATORS should get this book and encourage all of their students to do so as well.

This book is well worth double its usual price but since that price is currently nothing you really should pick one up today.  He might come to his senses tomorrow.

Click Here for a Free Copy of Lance LaDuke's Music Practice Coach


Five Steps to Mastering a Piece of Music

Andrew Hitz

Here are five steps to mastering any piece of music.  If done correctly, it will work every single time.

  1. Record yourself.
  2. Listen to it.
  3. Analyze it.
  4. Change something.
  5. Repeat.

How do you know when the tomato sauce you're making from scratch has the right amount of salt? You taste it.  If it needs more you do two things: add a little salt and then taste it again.  Too often as musicians we record something, hear something that needs changing, change it, and then we're done with it.

Always taste the musical sauce before it is served.

With painters here at the house, if you need the score to Rite of Spring, it is in the shower. © 2014 Andrew Hitz