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A light hearted guide to.....being a conductor!

What on earth do conductors actually do?

If they’re there to keep time, why not build a 6ft metronome and be done with it?

I guess they must be important after all all band’s, choirs and orchestra’s have them – but then again we all have an appendix and they’re pretty useless.

Plus your appendix isn’t a pompous bully shouting at the young girls on the 2nd and 3rd cornet section – and you don’t have to call your appendix ‘maestro’ (unless you’re really weird).
When you think about it, we’re all conductors at times.

We like to jig around to music using our hands and fingers to indicate rising crescendos or flag up important musical moments (hands up who plays air piano to the three descending chords in Dancing Queen?)

Still, imagine getting paid to do it, with a stick? Yes some conductors do get paid!

“I could do that, no problem” I hear you say!
“And i’ve got a dinner jacket”, but I bet you couldn’t – not really.

You see, conducting is a bit like witchcraft: you can’t teach it, it’s shrouded in mystery and you sometimes wear black.

Let’s get some advice on this conducting – Richard Evans is quoted as saying “Man Management, Motivation and Music in that order!”

My cousin Dan, has been a conductor for ten years, he told me how tiring it was, especially as you’re on your feet all day and how people can be so rude. I asked him what the hardest part of his job was. “When people don’t have the right fare,’ he said. ‘Oh, I thought you were a musical conductor.’
‘Nah’, said Dan. ‘I gave that up years ago.’

Do you get nervous! Principal Cornet, James Whitaker, gives advice on handling nerves.

If you’ve performed live, you’ve probably experienced anything from butterflies in the stomach to absolute fear! I’ve been performing for many years now, but there are certain shows, guest artists, and audiences that can stun you or knock you off of your game.

Here are some tips to try to help with those nerves

1) Make sure you practice and prepare the piece(s) that you are going to play.

2) Always think positive – NEVER negative.
Why do people get nervous? Everyone, no matter what standard they are, encounter nerves at some point, usually when performing in front of people whether it be a band concert, contest, solo, grade examination, etc.
So why do we get nervous…?
We don’t like to let ourselves down, we don’t want to let our band, family or friends down, we worry about not being able to play a piece to a good standard, and there are numerous reason for this.

3) Don’t worry about ‘What happens if.’ Sometimes we get nervous about things that have not even happened ie What happens if I don’t get my high note; what happens if my lip goes; what happens if my valve sticks!!! Why worry about them – they may not even happen!!!

4) Always concentrate on breathing when performing, especially under pressure. This will help sound, stamina, phrasing, etc.

5) Enjoy your playing!!!

Caring for your instrument! Senior Band Musical Director, Andrew Whitaker, gives advice on caring for your instrument.

Valved Instrument Care

It is neccesary that players should keep their instrument clean and in good repair, not only in the interest of maintenance but also for general hygiene.
Some of theunneccesary repairwork can be attributed to the following:
1. Moisture, causing oxidation and corrosion on metals.
2. Perspiration from hands and saliva, both caustic and detrimental.
3. Lack of lubrication.
4. Foreign matter inside the instrument.
5. Wrong handling of the instrument.

When cleaning the instrument…REMEMBER
1. Do not drop or dent the valves
2. Valves are not interchangable, take out one at a time for oiling, but during major cleaning of the instrument place them in such a way that they can be returned to the correct casing.
3. Do not force valves into casings, locate the guide on the side of the valve and find the guide slot inside the valve casing, line them up and put in the valve (if the valve does not go “home” seek advice).
4. Wipe clean valves with a soft cloth, add water or valve oil – sparingly.
5. The inside of the valve casing can be cleaned with a bottle brush or cotton bud. Use a little liguid detergent and water to clean. Rinse out well.
6. Remove the bottom cap. If it is stiff, spray it with a freeing agent such as WD40. Wash the bottom cap as this collects dirt that drops from the valve. Dry thoroughly and oil the thread with some valve oil before replacing the cap.
7. When removing slides, depress the corresponding valve.
8. Clean the old grease with paper towel soaked in lighter fluid. Clean inside the slides with water and detergent (a slide brush can be purchased from music shops to help with this). Reapply grease and replace tuning slides.
9. Most student trumpets are coated with lacquer so don’t be tempted to clean it with metal polish, as this will wear the lacquer away. Just wipe it over with an impregnated cloth specifically designed for the job.
10. Always keep the shank of the mouthpeice and its receiver clean, as it is more lilely to get stuck if dirty. If the mouthpiece does get stuck don’t try too hard to remove it as you can easily damage the stays that support the lead pipe. The band has an extractor which can be used to remove the mouthpiece. 11. Always drain water from the instrument after use.
12. Please note that some oils are toxic. Keep out of childrens reach.

Each week…
1. Run cold water through the instrument, depress the valves. This should clean out dust and food particles etc.
2. Remove all slides and drain off water from the instrument. Dry the slides, add a little vaseline to them before replacing.
3. Dry the outside of the instrument throughly.

Every 6 to 8 weeks…
1. Remove all valves and slides and soak everything including the mouthpiece in a luke warm solution of water and liquid detergent.
2. Wash, rinse and wipe dry the insides of the valve casings…be careful not to scratch it.
3. Rinse and dry the valves with a soft cloth.
4. Oil the valves or use water and replace them in their casings.
5. Clean the slides as suggested.
6. Apply vaseline to the slides and replace into the instrument. Wipe off excess vaseline with a cloth.
7. Clean the mouthpiece throughly, rinse and dry it. A special mouthpiece brush can be bought to help with this.
8. Dry the instrument throughly.

If you have any doubts please ask for advice instruments cost a lot of money.

Learning to play can boost your IQ!

Playing a musical instrument could make you brainier, it is claimed.

Research suggest that practising scales and chords and mastering complex patterns of notes changes the shape of the brain.

It can even boost IQ by as much as seven points. And it is never too old to learn, with pensioners benefiting too.

Swiss experts say there is growing evidence musicians’ brains look and work differently from those of others.

The parts of the brain that control motor skills, hearing and memory become larger and more active when a person learns how to play an instrument. Alertness, planning and the ability to read emotions also improve.

Lutz Jancke, of the University of Zurich, said “We found that even in people over the age of 65 after four or five months of playing for an hour a week there were strong changes in the brain. The parts of the brain that control hearing, memory, and the part that controls hands, among others, all become more active. Essentially the architecture of the brain changes. For children especially we found that learning to play teaches them to be more attentive and better at planning.”

Learning a musical instrumenht can also make it easier to pick up languages and interpret emotions.

When you play a musical instrument you have to learn about tone and about scores and your ability to store audio information becomes better.

Not only does this make it easier to pick up other languages, musicians are able to pick out exactly what others are feeling just by the tone of their voices.

Top Ten Tips for Parents

1. In a 2000 survey, 73 percent of respondents agree that teens who play an instrument are less likely to have discipline problems.

2. Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills

3. A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background.

4. A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased.

5. First-grade students who had daily music instruction scored higher on creativity tests than a control group without music instruction.

6. In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change.

7. According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculums reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group.

8. Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives.

9. In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.

10. College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open-mindedness.
Don’t let the price of equipment hire hold you back from letting your child play music. There are many resources available to rent an instrument and some schools or bands even have instruments available for loan. You can also purchase secondhand equipment from a variety of sources, although it’s important to have someone knowledgeable thoroughly inspect the instrument to be sure there are no defects or flaws in it before you decide to purchase it.

12 Benefits of Music

1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.

2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.

3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.

4. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.

5. A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a “me first” attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other races at an early age.

6. Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These standards, when applied to a student’s own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.

7. In music, a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.

8. Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.

9. Music provides children with a means of self-expression. Now that there is relative security in the basics of existence, the challenge is to make life meaningful and to reach for a higher stage of development. Everyone needs to be in touch at some time in his life with his core, with what he is and what he feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.

10. Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on “doing,” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create as described above. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.

11. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential. Music contributes to mental health and can help prevent risky behavior such as teenage drug abuse, which often leads to institutionalization in a teen rehab.

12. An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.