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Practicing and Practice Sheets

Practice !!!!!!! - Click here to get a generic practice sheet!

One way that grades are earned in the CMS Band is through practice sheets. Practice sheets count as 25% of your band grade. When school is in session, there is almost always a practice sheet available in the band room. But first let's talk about practice and how important it is in the development of a musician.

Practice makes perfect! That's an old expression that often rings true, but not always. Here are some hints to make your practice time more productive.

  1. Try to set a pattern of regular practice like, "I am going to practice every night from 6:00 to 6:30". A half hour a day would be close to an optimal amount of practice for a middle schooler. Strive to practice every day, or every other day, maybe Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. But it is good to set a pattern and try to stick to it! When you play your instrument, you build fine motor muscle control. Regular practice builds the muscles and nerve endings.

  2. Your home practice should be specific to your instrument, at least part of the time. Concentrate on learning your band pieces, but also work on exercises in the book that are for your instrument. Some examples are; going over the break for clarinets, lip slurs for brass, or rudiments for percussion.

  3. Master your scales. Scales are the building blocks of music. As I introduce a scale to you, write it on your scale sheet, and practice it. Once you can play the scales assigned, start learning them in two octaves. By the end of 8th Grade Band you will know all your major scales! You will have a huge advantage over young musicians that never learned scales. Play simple songs in all the different keys - you will be a transposing machine.

  4. Use a music stand! Use a chair! Sit with proper posture! Hold your instrument correctly! You will tend to perform the way you practice.

  5. If you get bored practicing, try some of these ideas............

- Invite a friend over and learn duets! There are some duets in the band books. I have some I can lend you, or you can purchase books specific to your instrument, interest, and level. Finish your fun practice sessions with pizza, yum!

- Play along with a CD. You can purchase various styles of music with example/accompaniment CDs, and written parts.

- Learn about http://www.smartmusic.com/ , smartmusic.

- Start practicing a solo and or ensemble for contest time.

Keep track of your practice times and write it on your practice sheet. When you reach the A+ level of practice (3 hours), have your parent sign your practice sheet, and bring it to me!

Parent note - I have had parents in the past who were concerned about 3 hours of practice being too short an amount of time for earning an A+. Quite frankly three hours a month is really not enough practice time. I set three hours as an attainable minimum standard. Musicians who really get into their instruments should and will practice much more.