Music Mastery Practice Tips Newsletter, Issue 14

August 2010

EXPLOSIVE is the best way to describe the growth of activity on %site% in the past 30 days! In the last week of July, I made it my goal to post something on my blog daily. For me, this meant narrowing the focus of articles to one specific, simple topic. I haven't always been successful at keeping it short, but the results are obvious. In the past thirty days, the number of visitors to the site has increased 170%! Visitors coming in from Twitter is up 133%! Visitors coming in from Facebook and the MENC forums are up 450%!! Much of this increase is due to the fact that I am able to post content regularly in two different Facebook groups, several targeted online forums, and many of my colleagues are sharing the content.

This surge in traffic has also led to a 100% increase in subscribers to the website and this newsletter, the second consecutive month that membership has doubled. If you joined in the last 30 days, I welcome you warmly and hope that you will find these newsletters to provide you with some interesting content that you won't find on the website.

In addition to all the good news on my website, I also received my first-ever royalty check from TRN Music for the first year of sales on my elementary band piece entitled Robot Dance. It's been a good month!

There are so many great projects in the works right now behind the scenes. More guest authors, an interview with Janet Horvath of Playing Less Hurt, a product review, new private lesson and webcam students, judging for Cavalcade of Bands, two opportunities to teach an electronic music class for the first time ever, and potentially an opportunity to present clinics at a state music education convention in February! As I begin year 12 of my public school teaching career, I feel more energized and excited than ever, and much of that is due to the amazing music educators I have met since joining Twitter last August.

product picture

A Teacher's Guide To Music Media And Copyright Law by Dr. James Frankel is an indispensible go-to source of information for every music educator! In this modern age where people are posting an entire year's worth of video footage to YouTube daily and anyone can copy and send music recordings to anyone else, music educators have a civic responsibility to understand copyright law and how it affects what they do in the classroom. Pick up a copy here.

July-August Blog Highlights

Now that I am posting daily, these are only the most widely read articles from the last 30 days.

High School Marching Band: Why Bother?: The most popular article ever hosted on my website by a landslide was a guest post! Read what some of the research has to say about the benefits of marching band. Read more

How To Memorize Music For A Performance: Memorizing music for a performance is a skill that requires just as much practice and any other music performance skill. There are many occasions that call for memorization of the music, because memorization means mastery of the material and leaves room left over in the performers consciousness for adding more expressive elements to the performance or in many cases adding movement, such as choreography. Read more

10 Quick Tips For A Successful Band Camp: Band camp is a great time to build community, establish operating procedures, and set the tone for the entire marching band season. A successful band camp is crucial because in many cases, band students spend as many hours rehearsing at camp as they do rehearsing for the entire fall season. Every aspect of a band program needs some time and attention during camp. Here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness of your pre-season preparations. Read more

The Challenge of Assessing Music Performance: Music, along with the other creative arts, exist as fundamental forms of human expression and need no justification. They should be studied because they are an integral part of the human experience found in every culture on the planet in every era of history. In an ideal world, music education and music as an art form is not accountable to anyone for any reason. But, American society says otherwise. How do we objectively assess a subjective activity such as musical performance? Read more

Teaching Jazz Improvistation To The Absolute Beginner: Back in 2004, I had several students attending a Junior High County Band Festival in Williamsport, PA. The festival occured over two days with an evening concert the second day. Also in town that weekend was the Eastman Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Bill Dobbins. Eastman did a pro bono clinic onstage with the concert band for an hour on a simple way to introduce students to jazz improvisation. Read more

This Month's Practice Tip: Everything Comes From The Generation of Tone

When it comes to performing music, once all the basics of learning to operate the instrument are done, there is no topic more important to address than tone production. Maximizing your ability to produce beautiful tone on your instrument is a simple concept that takes a long time to put into practice. One of the issues with it is that "beautiful tone" is a subjective term, especially in terms of the singing voice. Here are some tips for developing good tone on a variety of instruments:

These observations come from my own experience with these family of instruments, which varies. It is a subjective list, so if you find something I have stated here to be less than accurate in your experience, I would love to hear from you. Send a message via my contact page.

Until next time,


This newsletter (c) 2010 Thomas J. West. All content on ThomasJWestMusic dot com is licensed under a Creative Contributions Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. If you wish to reprint this article on another website or offline, please contact the copyright holder before using.

If you find this website helpful, please make a donation.

If this newsletter is not readable on your email, you can see read the online copy.