Sunday, August 22, 2010

Everyone Seems To Hate Scale Study...

As you may have noticed. I have moved out of my comfort zone in good, old Illinois. I'm here in the SW part of Ohio living the dream. I work/study at Wright State where I have a sweet assistantship. I work with one of the best HS marching bands in the country. Yep, I'm pretty thrilled.

So far my experiences primarily with the CJB and I have determined that even though I was once thought the kids in this band must be super heroes, they're just normal high school kids. How did I find this out, you ask? They don't know all their major scales. Not only do they not know them, but *gasp* they hate practicing them. I know I was amazed too. I also had a little pat myself on the back moment(my little band at El Paso, IL was going to town on some scale studies!!)

One of the directors and I set a check off goal for the brasses. Yes, the woodwinds checked off major scales in mid-July. They always seem to be ahead of the brasses, anyone know why? I have my theories, but I digress. The other director also discussed the fact that if a F# concert scale appeared in their show music, they'd memorize it. Yet, the scale sheet in their binders goes unlearned.

I'm glad their making a push for scales, because it's something I always pushed for with my ensembles. As I was browsing around on (which you should check out) I found a great blog post about Lisk and scales by Thomas J. West. Check it out by clicking...HERE! 

Now go practice your scales. I played my Circle of 4ths today, did you?

1 comment:

Thomas J. West said...

Kids as a general rule don't practice scales because:
1. If you just play them up and down, it IS boring.
2. No one ever explained to them why they are important and how they make everything about your playing easier once you know them.
3. Scales are not part of their regular routine when they meet as an ensemble (except for the traditional concert Bb scale as a "warm up")

Brass players lag behind because woodwinds think about scales much more linearly than they do due to the nature of their instruments. It's easier for woodwind players to visualize and feel the patterns of the scales than it is for the brass players with only three buttons to push.

You are right on target when you say that if it were in their show, they'd learn it. This is one of the major drawbacks of a performance-only program - when every moment of your time with the students is spent perfecting performance repertoire, students tend to become experts on the "third trumpet part" of a piece rather than becoming independent, well-rounded musicians. That's not to criticize the program you're working for, because they do create amazing performances that have a profound effect on their students.

One of the high school bands I worked with that could compete against a band of your caliber were against scales as well. Kids are kids, no matter what kind of amazing things they've been nurtured into.

Thanks for the link to the article.