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What To Expect From Practice Time from Your Beginning Band Student

Beginning band student practice tips

First you want to set up a practice space for your child. Preferably this is in the child’s bedroom with a door that will close. You should provide a solid chair, like a metal folding chair or wooden chair, not an upholstered chair. The child should be able to sit forward on the chair with his feet solidly on the floor. A music stand is simply a must. You can buy a new one or an old one from a garage sale. Make sure it’s adjusted properly for your child to see the music. If you buy an old stand from a garage sale, use some WD40 on the hinges so it can be adjusted. Make sure the child’s music book will sit straight on the stand and at a good eye level for them. A music stand is important for your beginning drummer as well.

Even though flutes, clarinets, and oboes seem to fit so nicely when laid on the lip of the music stand, DON’T do that!. The usual at home practice stand is just too flimsy to hold the instrument and before your very eyes, the instrument will tumble to the floor. These instruments should be laid across a desk or table when not being played. For some reason, students like to lay these across their beds also. Flutes and clarinets are quite commonly laid on the bed, forgotten and then the child sits on the bed and on the instrument. This can be fixed but it’s a costly repair.

If you see your child playing the instrument with their arms resting on their legs, remind them this isn’t correct playing posture and that they will get the best sound if they sit up when playing. Do NOT allow them to play while sitting on the side of the bed! It really doesn’t take a lot of space for the chair and stand; fold the chair away under the bed when not in use. Fold the stand top up and let it stand in the corner when not in use. If there is any place in your house where the chair, stand, and instrument would remain undisturbed, you can leave the area set up so it’s inviting to your child.

No TV watching while practicing! It’s amazing how students will want to combine these two activities. No marching around the room either.

Don’t get panicky if your child won’t do a full 30 minutes every time they sit down. Three bursts of 10 minutes or two bursts of 15 minutes will work just fine to start with. As they develop, they will have more endurance power plus more things to do doing a practice time. Whatever you do, do not make practice time a battleground right at the start. As they begin playing a few songs, they will start to practice longer because what they are doing will be more interesting.

At the beginning, a child is developing new muscles to support the embouchere. The embouchere is the formation of teeth, lips, chin, facial muscles required to properly play the chosen instrument. These are tiny little muscles which get stronger with use. However, at first, these muscles tire easily and there’s not much point in pushing the child to play beyond the point where those muscles start to be achy.

If properly instructed, your child will be spending several days or even weeks playing only the mouthpiece of the instrument. So you will hear lots of “duck call” type of sounds emerging from practice. This is a very important formative time so be patient. It’s better to have the child focused only on producing that duck call than trying to balance the instrument and hold it properly AND settle those facial muscles into place.

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