Director’s News

Doc’s Lesson 4/14/2020

Video Link:



1) Please consider purchasing a BAND YEARBOOK!  Dead line to order is Saturday, April 25th.  Please see emailed letter or website for more information.  Mrs. Uy (and her band of merry photographers) has done an exceptional job of capturing some of our finest moments of the year!



“The Splendid and the Vile” Erik Larson

The story about London during the German bombing campaign (the blitz) during WWII.  Take-away:  Despite the incredible hard/odd times, the British people remained calm and fearless and went on with their lives as best they can.  Humans are very resilient!



Quick Review:


Yesterday’s Lesson:  (video link:

-Make something GOOD out of the existing situation!!!

-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.


Today’s Lesson:  WHAT’S THE SCORE???

Almost every piece of music that has more than one part has a SCORE.   The score is like an architectural blueprint where one can see the different parts as they appear together.  One can study each of the individual lines as well as how they interact with each other.  Simple scores are for works for solo instruments/voices with piano accompaniment.  The most advanced scores are for full orchestras (woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings and sometimes chorus).

Most music scores share the following commonalities:

1) All of the instruments involved in the composition are listed on the first page (title page) to the left of their respective staff line.

2) Reading the staff lines from top to bottom, the instruments are grouped into families and are shown in this order:

Woodwinds:  piccolo, flutes, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones

Brass:  trumpets, horns, trombones, baritones, tuba

Percussion:  mallet parts, including piano/harp; battery/accessory parts (snare drum, cymbal, triangle, bass drum); timpani

Strings:  violin, viola, cello, bass

Chorus:  soprano, alto, tenor bass

3) When instruments rest in band scores, their parts are still shown with the rests.  When instruments rest for extended periods of time in orchestral scores, their lines are omitted from the score saving space.  Their lines reappear when they enter the texture.

4) Reading scores while listening to music can be tricky because there is so much in front of you.  The easiest way to read scores is to allow your eye to FOLLOW THE MOVING PARTS!  Usually this is the principal or melodic line; sometimes it is an active accompaniment.  Just stay with the pulse (time signature) and use your ear.  Sometimes you’ll need to listen to a work many times in order to realize all that is going on—that’s the fun part!  The more you listen, the more you hear…and the more you will enjoy!  In this way, you do not need to worry about clefs or transpositions, you can see the activity listed in each instrument.

5) Another way that you can learn to follow a score is just to follow one line at a time.  Find YOUR PART and trace it as you listen through the score.  Then select another part and so on….  Eventually you’ll be able to let you eye/ear move around more to realize many parts.



6) In scores featuring different wind instruments (like most band scores), the instruments are written as you would see their parts.  However, what you SEE is not always how those instruments SOUND.  This is the tricky part as many wind instruments sound LOWER than the note that appears on the staff.

7) Here’s the important phrase to remember:  “The key of an instrument is that note which sounds when the instrument plays their written C.”

-When a clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, trumpet, and baritone treble clef plays their written C, they actually sound a Bb (a whole step lower).  These instruments are usually referred to as “Bb instruments.”  Every note they see in their part actually sounds a whole step lower.

-When an alto sax or baritone sax plays their written C, they actually sound an Eb (a major 6th below the written pitch).  Every note they see in their part sounds a major 6th lower.

-When a French horn plays their written C, they actually sound an F (a perfect 5th below the written pitch).  Every note they see in their part sounds a perfect 5th lower.

8) Reading treble and bass clef just take some practice.

Lines on the treble clef from bottom to top:  E, G, B, D, F (every good boy does fine); spaces on the treble clef from bottom to top:  F, A, C, E (face).

Lines on the bass clef from bottom to top:  G, B, D, F, A (good boys do fine always); spaces on the bass clef from bottom to top:  A, C, E, G (all cows eat grass).

9) And if you want to go into more depth, look up the alto clef (used by the violas) and the tenor clef (sometimes used by the upper trombones and bassoons).  These are movable clefs…



1.Visit and search for the name of some of the band music that we have played.  When the piece appears, you will generally find 3 options on the left side of the page:  listen, view (score), watch (score and listen).  For most pieces, you can view the score.  You can pull up the piece on your phone and then watch the score.  Some pieces allow you to watch the score while listening to the piece—that’s a nice plus, but it is a bit rare on this site.

Concert Band:  “West Highland Sojourn” by Robert Sheldon; “Excel” by Pasternak; “Four:  On a Remix of Beethoven” by Randall Standridge

Symphonic Band:  “Carnival of Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens, arr. Del Borgo; “Hounds of Spring” by Alfred Reed, arr. Longfield

Wind Ensemble:  “Watchman Tell Us of the Night” by Mark Camphouse; “Esprit De Corps” by Robert Jager; “Four Scottish Dances” by Malcolm Arnold is a site that contains hundreds of thousands of mainly orchestral scores and recordings (in the “public domain”—hence, usually written over 75 years ago).  Do some exploration and look through some of these incredible scores…try the finale of the Tchaikovsky “1812 Overture,” Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” the first movement of Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” or Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40.”


Have fun exploring.  Your EARS will grow!!!

Dr. Jerry Markoch, Director of Bands

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