Middle school can be a critical time when it comes to musical programs for many students. At this stage, they must often decide whether they wish to continue in bands, choirs, or string ensembles.
Schools must do everything possible to promote musical participation and maintain an effective feeder program, such as offering enrichment classes and reducing scheduling conflicts.
1. Practice daily
Musicians of any kind – be it piano, guitar, or flute – need to practice daily to stay on top. Sticking to a regular schedule of taking up their instruments will allow for faster and more profound learning experiences. Young students often start off playing more straightforward songs before progressing onto more challenging pieces that require more excellent skill – this helps give a sense of achievement each time a song is mastered, which encourages further practice sessions and music learning!
As students progress into older grades, it is essential that they set realistic goals regarding how much practice they can complete each day. Breaking up routine into shorter sessions may prove more effective – this will allow them to make gradual improvements without becoming overwhelmed.
Noting the fact that not every musician pursues professional music can also help students realize it is okay to have fun while taking music lessons – music lessons provide a fantastic way to become part of a community of musicians, which can be both enriching and satisfying for people of any age.
Repetition is vital when it comes to a successful band class! An excellent resource for developing fundamentals, tone, and technical facility is the Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician method book; it contains sequenced exercises such as warm-ups, chorales, sight-reading etudes, and more!
2. Listen to music
Musicians tend to listen to music for various purposes, from hearing what their performance might sound like to seeking inspiration and trying out a new piece they don’t yet know how to play. Either way, listening is an essential part of becoming a successful musician.
Music can have profound psychological effects, from inspiring and entertaining to soothing and relaxing. Research has shown that it can improve focus, boost mood, and lower cortisol levels – as well as increase cognitive performance and strengthen social relations.
Studies conducted without musically trained subjects found that untrained musicians performed better on learning tests when listening to music than in silence or while studying alone. Researchers suggested that music stimulated motor-related regions of their brain and reinforced learned movements more effectively than sitting quietly or looking alone. Other research indicates listening to music may aid the memory of tasks learned as well.
Learning music is also an invaluable way to build social connections and enhance self-esteem, with studies showing those with musical training have higher GPAs and test scores than those without any formal musical education. Students should be encouraged to attend concerts of all kinds and explore what speaks to them musically – this will allow them to become more immersed in musical culture while finding their place either as performers or audience members.
3. Study the score
As students advance in their musical study and performance, they will want more control of their practice and performance. To achieve this goal, they will need to explore music extensively – this means learning its notes and rhythms as well as understanding its interconnections.
Students benefit greatly from taking time to explain these concepts to themselves and work on putting the pieces together independently. Dalcroze exercises designed for musically relevant use may prove especially helpful, especially with younger learners. These exercises emulate how musicians learn their instruments, including preparation before movement, a movement that incorporates all beats and returns to pre-preparation status at some point during practice sessions.
As part of studying a score, internalizing rhythms by breaking them down and practicing them measure by measure is another essential element to consider when looking it. This method helps students feel more secure about performing music, giving them a sense of achievement as well as reinforcing meter in rhythm.
Middle school can be a challenging period for many students, so we must do all we can to keep them motivated through any challenges that may arise. At such an impressionable age, when young people are exploring themselves for the first time, building genuine relationships with other students and engaging them with activities they find hiring is vital in keeping their interest up. When considering discontinuing music programs, for instance, schools should insist on consulting both parents and teachers before making such decisions and insisting upon having conversations between teacher and parent regarding any potential decisions made regarding quitting programs such as this if any desire exists among them – this way everyone involved makes informed decisions regarding what decision will best serve their child’s wellbeing.
4. Practice technique
Students need to spend time practicing their instruments to become better players; otherwise, it can quickly become difficult for them to pick up new music. Failing to practice properly could make learning an instrument even harder!
To address this problem, students should practice technique during practice sessions. This means engaging in scales and arpeggios (short rhythms that involve repeating one pitch), long tones (where students hold notes for an extended amount of time, typically across each register – high/middle/low), as well as other strategies designed to build a solid foundation on their instrument.
Middle school students may find practicing musical skills tedious, so educators must find ways to make their experience more engaging. One approach would be giving kids choices and more autonomy in their work, perhaps by voting on which song will come next or leaving time for musical improvisation at the end of lessons.
Orff Schulwerk’s method offers another excellent approach, tapping into children’s natural behaviors of playing, experimenting, and improvising as ways of accessing their innate musicality. Orff uses small-scale musical patterns like ostinatos and drones – something familiar to students – in order to develop musical understanding hands-on through experience and play. Furthermore, this resource also develops the sight reading, choral skills, and rhythm vocabulary of its participants.
5. Practice rhythm
Reading and playing rhythms are among the most essential skills a musician must have, yet many students find rhythm challenging to master, and taking time and dedication to learn is often necessary for improvement.
Rhythm can be found everywhere: rocking is used to soothe babies, drums are played for group dances, and cadence calls have long been used as unifying elements within societies. Musical rhythm is at the core of all pieces ranging from folk songs to complex concert works; students should take advantage of every opportunity they have during their musical education to develop reading this rhythmic language.
Students of music may find reading rhythms easy or difficult; all musicians can improve with practice. One effective tool to enhance rhythm reading is the metronome – this small, inexpensive device provides a steady beat and develops an inner sense of timing; using one will quickly boost rhythm. Students should incorporate metronomes into warmups, routines, scale work sessions, solo performances, and ensemble performances to help their rhythm.
An effective tool for practicing rhythm is rhythm flashcards. These flashcards make an engaging small group lesson or individual activity; students take turns putting the rhythms into order before clapping them – which may help those struggling with reading rhythm as well as understanding counting better.
6. Practice sight-reading
Sight-reading is a challenging yet essential skill for musicians, enabling them to absorb information in pieces of music quickly and accurately, which in turn makes playing easier while creating expressive sounds on an instrument. Furthermore, sight-reading opens doors into other areas of music, such as accompanying vocal lessons.
Students wanting to enhance their sight-reading should focus on mastering the fundamentals first, including reading note names on a five-line staff and comprehending their relationships (start, skip up/down, etc). Once this step has been mastered, they can move on to interval sight reading. Students should practice pointing at intervals as they read notes while emphasizing that it’s more about reading relationships between notes rather than letters on the staff that guide them.
As students become adept at sight-reading, they should strive to play with an engaging rhythm. Different genres can also help expand students’ knowledge of rhythm, as each style has specific requirements for rhythm.
Though sight-reading can be challenging for musicians, it can be improved through consistent daily practice, the right musical tools, and expert tuition from a quality teacher. Tonara Connect’s marketplace allows you to quickly locate one who fits your instrument level, language needs, price, or anything else you require! Get started for free now.