Daily Warm-Up & Development – Part 2
What is normally referred to as the warm-up is really two parts – Warm-up and Development of individual and ensemble skills. My previous Blog dealt with the Warm-up portion and here we will address skill development as part of a daily routine. Most of this material is equally appropriate for concert and jazz band rehearsals.
Most high school band programs have a good number of the students who are in need of stronger musical skills (to put it diplomatically.) This is especially true of the rookies and other younger members. Young band members do not walk into the band room on the first day with highly accomplished skills in most situations. Therefore it is the duty of the band director and staff toactually teach the skills that are required.
How can this be accomplished in the typical limited amount of rehearsal time? The Daily Warm-up at the beginning of every rehearsal is the ideal opportunity to achieve this without taking an undue amount of rehearsal time away from learning music and movement.
What if I don’t have enough time required for skill development? With a limited rehearsal schedule (in the academic world, everyone has a limited schedule) you don’t have enough rehearsal time to skipskill development. Otherwise you are spinning your wheels trying to get the students to play music that they are not ready for. Further, there is little retention as one encounters similar techniques in the various sections of music or from piece to piece. Skill training creates a foundation that makes the music performance easier and more consistent.
What skills need to be covered? Whatever skills are required in the music to be performed! That is what needs to be worked on every rehearsal. Make sure you “cover all the bases!” Let’s group the various musical skills into three areas.
- Sound – Tone, Intonation, Balance and Blend
- Technique – Notes, Rhythms, Articulations and Range
- Musicianship – Dynamics, Phrasing, Style and Expression.
These skills obviously overlap but thinking in these three areas will keep the rehearsal organized and help you cover all areas and skills required.
How much time should I spend on each aspect within a limited amount of time? You need to balance the time spent on each skill area. A band that spends most of its time working on Sound development usually has a good sound but is deficient in Technique and Musicianship. A band that spends most of its time working on Technique development usually has a good technique but is not as strong in the other areas. Which area usually gets “put on the back burner” or not developed at all? Musicianship!
Have a good understanding of the Spiral Learning Theory and the Law of Diminishing Returns. The spiral curriculum uses sequential learning and emphasizes the add-on effect of skill and concept development. The student keeps coming back to the same ideas but at a higher level, in a circular or spiral manner. (For a more in-depth study see Chapter 1 of The Dynamic Marching Band.) The Law of Diminishing Returns states that 1. things will improve, 2. the improvement will level off and 3. things will start to regress. The key to success and efficiency is knowing when to move on the the next skill when improvement levels off and is not getting better. In a nutshell: don’t spend too much time on any one skill or exercise. It is a waste of valuable time! Understand that skills will not be perfected today, but will be better the next rehearsal when you work on the next layer of the spiral. e.g. After 3-5 minutes of long tone study, it is not going to get any better (today.) Move next to slurred scales as this is still long tone (air flow) based and you start working on individual technique and ensemble timing as well.
There are many good warm-up routines available and they can also be created by the band director to match their preferences and philosophy. DAILY WARM-UP by Wayne Markworth (available from www.msconcepts.com) was written with these concepts in mind – cover all the necessary skills – individual and ensemble – in a short amount of time. (To preview the Trumpet part, see Chapter 2: The Wind Section in The Dynamic Marching Band by Wayne Markworth.)
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