Saturday, August 26, 2006

And Away WE Go!

Happy New Year!

No, it's not January but in the academic world everything is beginning so this may as well be the new year.

I've caught grief from some of my students for not keeping active with this blog over the summer. Sorry. Summer is a time not only to recharge my batteries a bit but to work on those projects that end up gobbling up a lot of time.

The two big projects: continuing to transcribe and edit my own collection of selected etudes ( currently 200 - 300 pages of material), and working on another book, Pattern Building, to accompany my book of Lip Slurs.

Ultimately I plan for these books to be a 3-part (or possibly 4-part) collection of books. Here's the plan:

Underlying everything are the fundamentals (Bone Basics): warm-up patterns, simple tunes, basic articulation exercises, maybe some specialized exercises (like building the high register).
These are exercises which are not progressive. They will be basic "bread and butter" stuff. Many sketches for this book are already done.

The Lip Slurs are pretty much self-explanatory. I'm mostly happy with the book and other people seem to like them. If you're curious, here's a link.

Pattern Building is the latest (and hopefully the final) incarnation in my search for a way to teach scales and arpeggios (Ouch, so many previous tries that just haven't worked). Yes, I know a lot these kinds books are already available but I haven't seen anything that really does what I'm looking for. This book is basically the mixture of scale/arp patterns and rhythm patterns. Any given section of the book, for example, presents a melodic pattern (scale or arp based) to be played from memory in all keys and a collection of related rhythms (almost like flashcards). What follows are 24 "mini etudes," most 8-12 measures long , which are connected to the given melodic and rhythmic patterns.

Why do we learn scales? Not only to develop general technique but to develop instincts that let us rapidly read/learn music. Thus, a complete scale/arp plan needs to have both memory work and reading work. Rhythm patterns aren't really different, the goal is a kind of "instant recognition" ... see the rhythm and instinctively know what it is supposed to sound like.

All this is very similar to learning to read words. One starts sounding out words and eventually moves on to instant recognition.

If the book succeeds, I hope my students will develop much stronger reading skills.

We'll see how it goes.