These short pieces are original compositions and arrangements that were created to ensure success in the most challenging of elementary band scenarios. These include meeting the June performance expectations of a private school band program that started in January/February in addition to the challenges of a Title 1 district whose students’ reading skills were well below the national average, presenting gross deficiencies in tracking their eyes across any page and assimilating the language of symbols that is musical notation.
Each piece focuses on the first notes I teach for each instrument, and including only those instruments I include in beginner 4th or 5th grade band: Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone or Baritone Horn & Percussion.
Using only the most basic content (notes they know) I created these pieces to use only the simplest of fingering combinations to ensure success for a well-rounded band experience for each beginner level player. I threw caution to the wind and added a few highly attainable notes as needed to offer something fun and interesting. The A and Bb throat tones of the clarinet in Half Blues are examples of this as are the F#’s for both alto and trumpet, considering their proximity and “fun-factor” next to G.
Important concepts are introduced including identification and navigation of repeats, first and second endings, the sign, Fine and concept of D.S. al Fine, internal double bar lines and rehearsal numbers as landmarks, and above all, listening for cues from other timbres/sections of the band.
These works are in no way intended to replace your tried and true method books, but in the absence of a method book, or as a supplement, they offer your students a well-rounded first concert band experience in the first two years of study, whether or not their band program starts at the beginning of the year or whether you are in a Title 1 district where assimilating information from a written page is sometimes a challenge. Studies show that the ensemble experience develops reading and math skills (counting, fractions, ratio) in addition to spatial intelligence; one of the most important perks of ensemble participation.
Instead of performing unison 8-measure melodies from a method book, your students can exhibit their prowess at following a conductor while executing their integral and unique roles in their first full concert band experience, even as a first-year player. Some may even take the baton with great success!
Through these works you will provide valuable understanding of many components of musicianship, as outlined per title. If you haven’t introduced improvisation and/or conducting, you can bring those empowering components of musicianship into your curriculum. Among the citations for achievement certificates in my year-end “Band Pizza Party” were “Courage to Improvise” and “Courage to Conduct”. Your students will be so proud!
Flute: B, Bb, C; Later A, G, D, E, Eb
Clarinet: E, D, C; Later A, Bb
Alto Saxophone: B, A, G; Later C, D, F#
Trumpet: C, G; Later F#, D, E, F, Eb
Trombone: Bb, F; Later Bb (8va)*
*My low brass were few and far between and didn’t ever practice. Feel free to create walking lines for your more advanced students within these pieces. Hitting I and V at will was an accomplishment!
Percussion: Visual & Aural Rhythmic Pattern Recognition is used, along with “helping words” to ensure success. Basic rudiments such as single stroke, double strokes, flams and flam taps are incorporated. Keeping a steady quarter note is my main focus.
*Auxiliary percussion instruments cited in these arrangements are those I had in my arsenal. Band Directors should feel free to edit as per their collection of small percussion instruments.
Anita Brown is an award-winning composer, conductor, producer and NY State Certified music educator whose career in public and private school band programs began in 1983. She has implemented and developed new and failing programs from grades 4 – 12. Brown continually considers new ways to integrate her passion for music composition into teaching. She has published articles in professional journals and authored teaching materials including The Music Student’s Companion, a consumable workbook for instrumental study. As a teaching artist she has piloted and implemented Let’s Compose! and The Composer Residency Project, age-appropriate original curricula bringing elementary and secondary students, respectively, through the process of music composition. She has written works for bands of varying, often odd instrumentations, including originals and arrangements of easy pieces by master composers, in the interest of providing a well-rounded experience. As a composer she has been commissioned and premiered by several New York jazz iconic ensembles, earned two New York State Council on the Arts Composer Commissions, Project Grants from NewMusicUSA and NYFA, earned school district re-grants as a teaching artist, the recognition and respect of the New York jazz community as well as awards for her music and professional large ensemble, Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra. For more information about music lessons, clinics, projects and commissions for your ensemble please visit www.anitabrownmusic.com.
These displays will help introduce "sight reading" rhythms as reading teachers utilize "sight words". Using aural and visual pattern recognition through echo and dictation activities, your students will learn to read subdivisions of the beat with these "Summer Cookout Words". The photo offers an alternative with "Candy Words". Perhaps they will create their own theme! To display, staple a blank page to the top of each image and hang on a ribbon. Voila!