Home School Clarinet Program
Why A Special Program?
Band instruments are not meant to be played alone, and are less user-friendly than the piano and guitar. Reinforcement is needed during that long week between lessons. Students who are in school band programs have this benefit. Many home-schooled children do not. Over the years, I've seen students who studied privately on band instruments give up or fail because they didn't have the extra reinforcement that they needed, or a group playing experience to reward them for their work. This program combines a weekly private lesson with an ensemble class on a different day to provide the necessary reinforcement and reward.
The program also provides a high tech advantage. Course materials are selected so that students use play-along CDs and computer music files to aid them in preparation and rehearsal for their activities. We combine the instructional value of private lessons with example material that can be analyzed and imitated according to the student's individual needs.
For all of the great opportunities that school band programs provide, only a miniscule percentage of the musicians keep playing after graduation. This is because they are dependent on their well-supervised band environment. Most have never had private lessons, studied music theory, or even listened to a commercial recording that involved their instrument. Despite seven years of credit classes, most adult players do not understand how to transpose music for their own instrument, or how to function with musicians who don't read written music.
This program introduces students to playing by ear, teaches them music theory in small increments, and--through the small size of its ensemble classes--teaches students to be responsible for their individual parts. Good habits are better learned and reinforced because there are private lessons. Individual responsibility is reinforced because there is group rehearsal in classes of eight or less. The play-along CDs and computer support give students the chance to check and correct much of the work on their own. They also help to demonstrate rhythm and melody issues that can be difficult to verbally explain and retain.
Because all students in the classes are playing the clarinet, there is a common frame of reference for discussion and understanding. Class instruction stays focused on one instrument and the world that it lives in. Unlike beginning bands, one section of instruments doesn't sit idle while the instructor rehearses other sections. There are no other instruments, so all the students are working as a team in their clarinet section. Students who learn as a team will hopefully continue their teamwork together in groups like Young Christian Musicians, and the Richmond Honor Band.
Good clarinetists are in demand for amateur groups in the Richmond area. Clarinets are the most numerous instrument in any concert band, and their parts are among the most difficult to play. Quality players are needed, because a weak clarinet section can force a band to play a lower grade of music than many of the other musicians are ready for. Good clarinet players have a significant effect on the quality of the band experience for other players. It is my hope that this program will generate some team players, and help them to form some important friendships early on. The professional world has a demand for saxophonists with excellent clarinet skills and many of these players started on clarinet. We need good players who will bolster the quality of community, school and church groups for all concerned.
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