Tips For Band Students, Parents, Teachers by Bruce Bowring

Whole Note Music

The simplest suggestion may make a big difference! Read the suggestions below and see if there is something that you might have overlooked or forgotten. Do not be afraid to try something new!


1. Flute parallel with lips

2. Flute to head, not head to flute

3. Relaxed embouchure, slight frown

4. Flat fingers, do not over reach!

5. Open mouth and throat. Create a full tone

6. To raise pitch, adjust jaw forward, or roll flute out

7. To lower pitch, drop jaw, or roll in flute

8. Tuning problem? Double check position of head cork.


1. Head up

2. Chin down flat, corners back

3. Do not overwrap bottom lip

4. Fingers flat, angled down

5. Tongue light, quick

6. Teeth on mouthpiece

7. Embouchure firm, clarinet in center of mouth

8. Squeaks? Try less mouthpiece, check reed for chips, cracks, warped


1. Lower jaw, somewhat relaxed

2. Tongue lightly

3. Fill horn with air, practice extreme dynamics

4. Sax to mouth, not mouth to sax-adjust sax strap to bring the horn to correct position

5. Sit up straight, head up, not sideways


1. Reed placed between lips which are slightly rolled in over the teeth

2. Lips close around the reed, no leaks

3. Lips firm, do not pinch, allow the reed to vibrate

4. Tip of the tongue touches reed when tonguing


1. Lips are pushed forward, not rolled over teeth

2. Do not pinch!

3. Allow lower jaw to recede, upper teeth forward-overbite position

4. Sit upright, bring bassoon to mouth

5. Use strap that works best for you-Seat strap or neck strap


1. Head up

2. Position mouthpiece 50/50 (half upper lip, half lower)

3. Light pressure, do not pinch

4. Chin flat

5. Tongue lightly

6. Open throat, horn parallel with floor

7. Fill horn with air, do not overblow!

8. Trumpet supported by the left hand

9. Finger tips on valve buttons for best fingering technique

French Horn

1. Two thirds, upper lip, one third, lower

2. Pressure more on lower lip

3. Do not suck in lower lip

4. Head up, BLOW!

5. Sit forward in the chair, face director

6. Back of right hand against bell

7. Use right hand to help regulate pitch (intermediate/advanced level)


1. Open lips-Space between

2. Blow!

3. Trombone-relaxed wrist, quick

4. Do not puff cheeks!

5. Open throat

Excellent Suggestions for Everyone

1. Be patient! Success takes time

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

3. Due diligence-if something doesn't come right away, move on and come back to it later

4. Experiment-if something doesn't work for you, try a new technique, position, mouthpiece, reed, instrument, vocal

5. Question experts-can't figure it out? Consult a recognized professional

6. Practice dynamics regularly (softs & louds) The best musicians can play any selection at any volume with ease

7. Take lessons! One lesson is better than none. Get someone who can help you start correctly.  Bad habits will limit your success, and they are hard to break!

8. Practice all tempos. Many people can play notes quickly. A professional can also play it slowly with expression

9. Practice different styles of music. Jazz, classical, rock, pop, folk, religious. It will make you a better, well-rounded musician and improve your technique.

10. Proficiency with scales will improve your technique


Dr. Watson's Basic Rhythms Review



Rhythm refers to the lengths of the notes you play.  We will discuss rhythms in terms of their length in BEATS.

When you tap your foot repeatedly at an even rate, each tap is a BEAT.  Think of a BEAT as having two parts: DOWN (when your foot hits the floor) and UP (when your foot returns back up).

A MEASURE is a group of BEATS.  A BAR LINE ( a vertical line through the staff) marks the end of each MEASURE.  We will be discussing the very common grouping of 4 BEATS to a MEASURE.

Put on a recording of any music you like and see if you can TAP a steady BEAT to it with your FOOT.  Have your mom or dad check to see if you are keeping an even pulse.


 The plain, hollow notehead is called a WHOLE NOTE because it lasts for 4 beats, which is the WHOLE measure!  Four beats is four taps of your foot, which would be: Down-Up, Down-Up, Down-Up, Down-Up.

Normally, musicians keep count in their head so they know if they've played the correct length.  For the DOWN beats they say the beat number (such as 1, 2, 3, or 4); for the UP beats they just say the word "AND" (shown by a plus sign below).

Try counting along, saying "1-and, 2-and, 3-and, 4-and," as you tap your foot.



 The plain, hollow notehead with a stem is called a HALF NOTE because it lasts for 2 beats, which is HALF of a 4-beat measure!  Two beats is two taps of your foot, which would be: Down-Up, Down-Up.  Of course, it takes two half notes to complete a 4-beat measure.

Count saying "1-and, 2-and, 3-and, 4-and," as you tap your foot.



 The solid (black) notehead with a stem is called a QUARTER NOTE because it lasts for 1 beats, which is ONE QUARTER of a 4-beat measure!  One beat is tone complete tap of your foot, which would be: Down-Up.  It takes four quarter notes to complete a 4-beat measure.

Count saying "1-and, 2-and, 3-and, 4-and," as you tap your foot.

Look for songs using quarter notes in your lesson book.  When you find a song you like, write the counts in above a measure or two with a pencil and bring it in for your band director to check.


 Like quarter notes, EIGHTH NOTES have a solid (black) notehead with a stem; however, they usually occur in groups of two or four and are joined by thick, black horizontal beams.  A single EIGHTH NOTE lasts just half a beat (either just the DOWN or just the UP), which is ONE EIGHTH of a 4-beat measure!  It takes eight eighth notes to complete a 4-beat measure.

Click on the measure below to hear a measure of eighth notes played (you'll hear four clicks before the measure starts).  Count along, saying "1-and, 2-and, 3-and, 4-and," as you tap your foot.

Look for songs using eighth notes in your lesson book.  When you find a song you like, write the counts in above a measure or two with a pencil and bring it in for your band director to check.


 Here's a measure with both quarter notes and eighth notes.  See if you can figure out the counts first, then click on the measure to hear it played.  Count and tap along.

Look for songs using quarter notes and eighth notes in your lesson book.  When you find a song you like, write the counts in above a measure or two with a pencil and bring it in for your band director to check.


 A DOTTED QUARTER NOTE is 1 1/2 beats long.  1 1/2 beats is 1 1/2 taps of your foot, which is: Down-Up, Down.  To count a DOTTED QUARTER NOTE at the start of a measure, you would say, "1-and, Two."  (A lot of young players think that "1-and, Two" sounds like TWO beats, but it's NOT!  TWO BEATS would be "1-and, Two-AND.")

As discussed above, an EIGHTH NOTE is a 1/2 beat long.  However, the eighth notes above were connected by beams to OTHER eighth notes in pairs.  Here, we see a SINGLE EIGHTH NOTE with a FLAG instead of a beam.  Since it follows a DOTTED QUARTER NOTE, it occurs on the UP part of the 2nd beat (and then again on the UP part of the 4th beat).

This rhythm is tricky.  Click on the measure below and first try to tap a steady beat while the rhythm is being played.  Then try to clap the rhythm while tapping your foot.

Look for songs using the dotted quarter and single eighth notes in your lesson book.  When you find a song you like, write the counts in above a measure or two with a pencil and bring it in for your band director to check.




Interesting Music Links/ Information for Students & Parent(s)/Guardian(s)

Instrument Sites


Middle School

High School




 Service Bands

Drum and Bugle Corps


  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • New York Symphony Orchestra
  • Clevland Symphony Orchestra
  • Altanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Orlando Symphony Orchestra
  • Florida Orchestra
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra


Music Organizations and Topics



  • Jazz - Jazz Central Station
  • Jazz - The Jazz Web
  • John Coltrane  Students can learn about one of the greatest jazz saxophonists of all-time.    
  • Jazz - a Film by Ken Burns   Companion material with audio samples, photographs, and jazz history. Very informative!    
  • Red Hot Jazz Archive  Offers information, history, discographies, and pictures from Jazz history prior to 1930. Information on Jazz history and the make-up of a jazz band specifically geared towards kids.    
  • Duke Ellington's Washington  Companion site from PBS based on Duke Ellington and African-Americans that were prominent in the arts and politics. For our purposes, check out "The Music Scene" for information on different musicians.    
  • NPR's Jazz Profiles  A site put together by National Public Radio that includes profiles on many jazz musicians. Each profile includes audio clips of the musician.    
  • PBS KIDS - Jazz
  • Jazz Diaspora  An online, commercial free, multimedia webcasting website that showcases Jazz music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 



 Practice - Tips - History


Basic Rhythms Review - A great place to practice your rhythm skills. I STRONGLY recommend this page.

Posture and Practice - Here you will find a listing, by instrument, of tips for troubleshooting any problems you might have while practicing at home. Very useful!

Metronome Online - Here you will have a metronome anytime so you can practice at the correct tempo. 

Music Dictionary  - Do not know what that word means...then check here.

Keyboard Trainer - Want to lean about the piano keyboard.   This site will train you on the notes and keys.

Brass Trainer - This is for you brass players.

Note Trainer - Having a hard time learning the notes on the staff?  This site will prepare you to be a staff wizard.

Standard of Excellence Recordings -  OUR BOOK  Tired of practicing by yourself.  This site will accompany you while you play.  Enjoy!

The Scale Cruncher -Allows users to build different types of musical scales starting on any note. 

Practice Spot - NEW This allows you to practice many different things.

Music Tech Teacher - Over 130 different ways to learn music

Teoria - Music Theory Web


Instrument Tips

Texas School Music Project - Tips on  playing their instrument and how to play within an ensemble.

Brian Kay - Private Brass Instructor   - Tips/  instruction on how to play Trombone and other brass instruments. 

*Beginning Trombone players should check out the Trombone Flashcards at the bottom of the page.    



Classical Music Navigator   - Listing of composers and their works by genre and/or composition type.          
Library of Congress
- I Hear America Singing
Great site with images and historical information about Patriotic music of the United States. Check out the Library of Congress March, written by John Philip Sousa, transcribed by Stephen Bulla. Cool stuff!    
This cool site offers ways to search for favorite musicians and what other musicians they would be closely associated with in terms of style or genre.    

George and Ira Gershwin

Offers information about these famous American songwriters and composers.    

Music in Our World

An on-line version of this college textbook that highlights the elements of music and music history. 

- Music Genome Project
A great website that allows the user to learn about and listen to new music related to musicians you are interested in.    

On-line Music Stores for Instruments, Supplies, or Music

For more music go to FREE from Music to Software.


FREE from Music to Software



  • Finale Note Pad -  Music Notation Software
    Are you composing music and your hand is getting tired?  Then Finale Note Pad is for you.  You can make professional compositions made by using downloading this free program.
  • Noteflight - NEW This is a cool music writing program that is FREE and online. No downloading.
  • Audicaty

 Colleges and Universities  


Music Stores

Most Stores close at 6pm and are closed on Sunday! (plan ahead)

Hoggtowne Music *
1730 NW 53rd Ave
Gainesville, Fl. 32653

Great Southern Music *

Oaks Mall Plaza
6787 West Newberry Road
Gainesville, Fl. 32605

 *Delivers to HSCS



Studio Percussion

519 –E NW 10th Ave
Gainesville, Fl.




 Stores are not arranged in any particular order.  They are listed for informational purposes for the students and parents of HSCS students.




Games and Things


Here are some games and activities from the Web.

Musical Tic-Tac-Toe
- Looking for something to fill time. How 'bout an ole game of Tic-Tac-Toe!    

The Time Machine


Beethoven's Baseball


Music Match

Play Music Match

Word Scramble


Orchestration Station


Music Match-Instruments




Music Quizzes

Conductor Game

Arts Alive

Activities & Games

Classics for Kids


Match the Phrases


Music Match-Music & Composers

Kids Domain

Music Games


Yahoo Kids: Music

The Crazy Frog

Shark Tale: Mixmaster


New York Philharmonic



Peer Gynt-In the Hall of the Mountain King

by Edvard Grieg

Thumb Piano Songs to Play

BBC Making Tracks 



Extra Credit Question

How many beats does a whole note get in 4/4 meter?

Email me your answer with your name and I will give you a free pass-off of your choice.  Thank you for visiting!


Play The Armonica Invented by Benjamin Franklin

Mighty Books

Improve your note reading skills

by using

 the Note Trainer at

Music Theory. net


  Music K-8 Downloads

Now you can legally and safely download MP3 files of your favorite Music K-8 songs for only 99¢ per song.  You can listen to these songs on the computer, burn a CD for personal use, or play the files on an iPod or MP3 player.  You and your parents can click on the link above to find out how to get started.


Virtual Orchestra

Try the Brass Quiz!





The History of Jazz

Check out the listening examples and narration by Wynton Marsalis.


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band


Music Sites for Children

Here are some great music web sites. There are games, listening adventures, sing-a-longs, and much, much more.  You can spend hours exploring! 



Arts Alive! Music Activities

MusicTheory. net - note reading games

BSO Kids Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Music by Leroy Anderson

Carnegie Hall-Listening Adventures

 The New York City Ballet-

Children's Music Web

read the story of the Nutcracker with a virtual book

Classics for Kids

The New YorkPhilharmonic Kidzone!

Creating Music

NIEHS Kids'Pages

Click'n Play Virtual Instruments

Once Upon a Sleigh Ride

DSOKids-Dallas Symphony Orchestra

PBS Kids

From the Top-a radio show that features

The Piano Player - read the notes game

young musicians between the ages of 10 to 18.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Poetry & Music of the Civil War

Hop Pop Town

Recorder Karate

Interactive Alto Recorder Fingering Chart

Scholastic Kids Playground

Jazz at PBS Kids

SFSKids - Fun With Music

KIDiddles - MoJo's Musical Mouseum

Sphinx Kids - games and more

Kids Domain - Music Games

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Kids Space 2000

Think Quest Music Quizzes

Kidtastic-Music Center

This Day in Music History

Land of Nursery Rhymes

Virtual Museum Canada - virtual instruments

Mozart's Magical Musical Life

Virtual Xylophone -play and record

Music Maker

Yahooligans-music videos

The Music Room  Capistrano Elementary


Modesto, CA  Great Site!