Students should have:

September, 2017

A reminder; students should have:
Essential Elements 2000 Book 1 method book for your child’s instrument
a 1″ three-ring binder or folder with pockets is ideal.  All the music your child will be getting over the year is much easier to organize if it’s in a 1″ binder or folder; the key signatures and some notes on the left side of the page get covered when using a Duotang.
– WITH VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS, MUSIC SHOULD NOT BE KEPT INSIDE THE INSTRUMENT CASE.  Cases seldom have room for music as well as the instrument and jamming music into the case can result in bent keys, etc.
– (optional, but recommended) a folding music stand for home (and school in some cases)

Practice schedule

Like all subjects, students will require different amounts of time to learn the assigned skills and assignments.

10 minutes of practicing per day, three days per week is a good start (of course, more is better!) toward achieving a reasonable standard of performance and will make a huge difference in your child’s progress and the quality of the experience.   Band builds upon previous skills and it’s very difficult to catch up once a student falls behind.

Please set up a regular practice time with your son/daughter.


Method Book

When you are renting an instrument, please buy a copy for your child’s instrument of Book 1 of Essential Elements 2000.  If you can find a used copy, that’s fine with me; it doesn’t have to be a new book.

Buying an instrument

I recommend renting an instrument for the year.  However, for those who prefer to purchase an instrument for their child’s use, I highly recommend making a purchase from a reputable music store that can repair the instrument.  Although some instruments can be bought for a price that seems too good to be true, they are often more difficult to play and can be expensive or even impossible to repair.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding recommended brands to either purchase or rent.


All clarinet and saxophone players should have FOUR #2 REEDS in a reed guard.  A reed guard is made of hard plastic and is designed to store reeds flat and keep them from warping and being damaged in the case.  It does not have a rubber band holding the reeds in place.  (Good reeds should not be stored on the mouthpiece.  However, you can use an old or damaged reed on the mouthpiece to keep the ligature from bending).  I usually have reeds on hand for emergency use that I will sell at the beginning of class for close to cost ($2 for clarinet reeds, $3 for alto sax, and $4 for tenor sax).  For the best in sound and embouchure development, most clarinetists will be using #2½ early in the term.  If you want to buy a box of reeds for clarinet, please buy #2½ along with four #2 reeds to start.  For saxophones, please buy a box of #2 reeds.

Folding music stand

If possible, please buy a folding music stand for your child’s use at home and school.  It simplifies practicing at home and helps promote good posture and playing habits.

Band, like any other subject in school, requires effort.  A band is a team and its success depends upon the active participation and co-operation of everyone in the class.  Should a student fail to follow through with the expectations outline below he or she may be transferred to an alternate music program.  Parents/guardians, please discuss with your child the following rules/expectations which are essential in creating an enjoyable experience for all.


  1. I will bring my instrument, music (sheet music in a three ring binder or folder with pockets), and pencil to all classes.
  2. I will neatly put away my own music stand and chair at the end of every class.
  3. I will participate in a manner which promotes learning.
  4. When the teacher stops conducting, I will stop playing and wait for instruction without talking.  If I have a question, I will raise my hand and wait to be asked before speaking.
  5. I will listen while the teacher is talking.  This means “eyes on the teacher” with my instrument in rest position.
  6. I will play my instrument in a respectful manner.  This means I will never aim my instrument at someone and make a loud sound.
  7. I will respect my and others’ instruments.  This means I am the only person to touch or play my instrument and I do not touch or play other people’s instruments.
  8. After permission is given to go to the bathroom or to get a drink of water (one student at a time), I will put my instrument flat on the floor or in its case.  I will not rest it on my chair or music stand.

OUT OF CLASS (not a rule, but a clear expectation)

  1. I will practice my instrument until my assigned music is learned or a minimum of 30 minutes per week.
  • Music is a subject where working with others is desirable – and can be a lot of FUN! I give bonus marks to students who practice in groups of two or more for a minimum of fifteen minutes and record what they have accomplished.  I will hand out the sheet to students who ask for it.If you have any questions, please contact me through the school or at

Musically yours,

Mr. D



Practicing at home

My wife’s violin teacher, Raphael Spiro, told her the definition of practice is “correct repetition”.  Here is how to make the best use of your time!

– having regular practice times is best
– 100 minutes per week is the goal (unless you can play the assigned music correctly and with a beautiful sound in less time 😉 )
– When you are playing and make a mistake (EVERYBODY DOES!!!), don’t go back to the beginning.  Go back a few notes and play through the notes you had difficulty with until you can play the passage correctly
– Don’t always start at the beginning.  Start by playing the last two measures, then the last four, then the last eight, . . .

(with help from violinist extraordinaire and master teacher, my wife Nancy DiNovo)

The goal of this practice method is to create mastery and confidence in your playing.  At any point, if you move on from one step to the next and find you’re not ready, repeat the previous step before moving forward.

  1. Name the notes – say the letter name of the note out loud
  2. Name the notes in rhythm
  3. Name the notes in rhythm while fingering the notes (even better if you can sing the correct pitches at the same time!)
  4. Play the passage very slowly three times.  Pay attention to what your muscles have to do to make the passage work smoothly and efficiently.  Include all accents and articulations.
  5. Then, play the same passage four times under tempo with full musicality: dynamics and markings as well as musical expression while paying attention to the connections between notes where appropriate.  Strive to improve each one making each repetition more fluent and tonally beautiful than the previous one.
  6. Perform the passage perfectly ten times in tempo.  You will probably notice that after five or six repetitions the passage will start to sound even more fluent.

FYI – apparently the magic number for you to have mastered ANY skill is to do it 17 times in a row without making a mistake.  Yes, numbers 4 through 6 add up to 17!


And, two quotes from Carrie Brownstein, musician, actor, and author
“I found community and belonging through creativity and music”.
And, on being able to do both comedy and music, “I think I wouldn’t have come to comedy and been able to do a lot of improvisation if it weren’t for music.  I think that helped me gain a lot of confidence.  It gave me faith in the spontaneous moment, in the unknown, about going somewhere that could be unexpected where you might fail.”

Keep practicing – you never know where it will lead!