Director’s News

Doc Talk/Lesson 4/15/2020

“DOC TALK”/CLASS LESSON – Wednesday, April 15, 2020


No video link today!



Please share these video/lesson resources with your friends in the band!  It is difficult to determine who may still be “out-of-the-loop” with regards to what we are doing…  Our band email system is very good, but I am certain that there are still some gaps.  Forward these lessons to members of your section if you know their contact info!



Although every date on the calendar can probably be linked to a tragedy of some kind, two particularly well-known tragedies occurred on this date in history (4-15):

1) On April 15, 1865 president Abraham Lincoln died of a gunshot wound in the head at 7:22am.  He was shot the previous evening at Ford’s Theatre by the actor John Wilkes Booth.

2) On April 15, 1912 the ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia killing over 2,000 people.  The Titanic was 4 days into its maiden voyage from England to New York City.

If that were not enough, April 15th is traditionally the due date for paying yearly taxes.  (This year it is July 15th due to the virus.)

Yikes!  Be careful today 🙂



Quick Review:


Monday’s Lesson:  “Make something GOOD out of the existing situation!!!”

video link:

-Consider undertaking a “music project.”

-Consider making yourself a daily schedule to help you stay focused during this time.

-Remember, for every 30 minutes of music study that you undertake, you are rewarded 1 point for the week.


Tuesday’s Lesson:  “What’s the score?”

video link:

-Visit and type in the titles of some of the band pieces that we have played.  Next to the piece, click “view” and watch the score!  If you play the piece on your phone, you can watch and see EVERYTHING that is happening in the music.  It is a great way to stretch your EARS!

-Another great source is, a site that contains over 500, 000 public domain scores and recordings.  This is great to listen and view great orchestral music!  Start with a familiar piece like the Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” or Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.”




It is perhaps better stated that “practice makes permanent” or that “practice produces habits.”

Although everyone practices something to some degree, it is quite a special calling to be a musician.  A successful musician appreciates the value of focused repetition    to build consistency as well as strength and confidence.

I fully realize that while most of you find some enjoyment in playing your instrument, you really enjoy playing music WITH YOUR FRIENDS!  It is the collaborative effort that stimulates the most enjoyment!  This is the real TRAGEDY of these days—the inability to safely make music together, in real time.  I can’t wait to get back to these days!!!

In the meantime, I want you to be able to maximize the productivity and rewards of your practice sessions.  Toward this end, please allow me to suggest the following ideas:

1) Most successful musicians divide up their practice sessions into 3 parts:  warm-up, practice literature, sight reading/fun literature.


2) There are many FREE online resources for each of these 3 areas.  Just google phrases such as “free ____music (your instrument),” “_____ practice tips,” “_____warm up material,” “free sight-reading factory.”


3) Consider playing in front of a mirror—the easiest way to self-discover if your posture and embouchure looks correct.


4) Consider recording yourself—the easiest way to self-discover flaws in your rhythm, pitch, tone, etc.  It is also a great way to start shaking-off the nerves.


5) Download a tuner to your phone and make an intonation chart.  Start by tuning your main tuning pitches (these are your pitches—pitches that you see/that are written, not necessary concert pitches):


flute & oboe: A

clarinet:  open G and long C

bassoon:  middle F or A

saxophones:  F#

trumpets and baritone treble clef: third space C

horns:  third space C with and without the trigger

trombones and baritones bass clef:  top of the staff Bb

tuba: second line Bb


Next, play some of your major scales SLOWLY, one note at a time, and see if one of the pitches are particularly sharp or flat.  Make note of these notes so that you can bend the pitch with your embouchure or airstream to move it into tune.  Or for brass instruments with movable first, second, or third valve slides, you can adjust the tuning slides accordingly.  In general, the third valve slide is usually moved out the most, followed by the first valve slide.  Often you do not need to do anything with the second valve slide.

The internet is also a great source of intonation information.  Look up “intonation tendencies for _________ (your instrument)”


6) Download a metronome to your phone and practice with it!  It is probably best to use headphones so that you do not need to struggle to hear the click on the pulse.  Practice scales and arpeggios this way, as well as your music.  Remember, start at the tempo that you can play the music well (evenly), then gradually increase the tempo.


7) Keep a log (steno pad) of your practice time and content.  Record metronome markings so that you can gradually increase your tempos each day.  This is really easy to do if done correctly—and it’s so fun to experience progress.


8) Learn how to play with vibrato; learn how to double-tongue/triple tongue.


9) Brass players:  buzz that mouthpiece for tone, flexibility, and to increase range!


10) LISTEN to great players online—everyday!  You will be amazed at what you learn just spending a few minutes listening to the best players in the world!


11) There are many online ideas about how to practice including “10 easy ways to optimize your music practice (from NPR).”  Good stuff!


12) Please contact your teachers if you have any questions regarding literature!  I am certain that they will make some suggestions for you!  Please contact me if you need their texting/cell numbers.


Amy Holt (flute)

Janet Shurtleff (oboe)

Bill Coye (bassoon)

Jimmy Gilmore (clarinet)

Justin Berry (saxophone)

Lisa Burn (trumpet)

Andy Kleindienst (low brass)


A few more important things to note:

If any of you get truly “stuck” and need of a lesson, please contact one of the private teachers that I have listed on Monday’s lesson summary (4/13).

If money is an issue, please contact me.  I may be able to arrange a FREE lesson for you with one of our instructors.  I cannot over due this; however, I do not want any of you to be so discouraged that you do not want to practice, or you fear doing something very wrong.

I would be happy to listen/watch any of you play something for me.  Email me or text me a request.  We can set something up like facetime, etc. and I’ll work with you.



Enjoy it!


Dr. Jerry Markoch, Director of Bands

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