Elementary Instrumental Skills and Concepts

Elementary Instrumental Skills and Concepts

The following skills and concepts will be developed during instrumental lessons, in many cases building on what students have already learned in general music classes and experience with the recorder.

•Posture/Breathing- correct posture, playing position, hand position, correct breathing and breath control.

•Tone production- full, characteristic sound of instrument.

•Rhythm- read count and play any arrangement of whole, half, quarter, eighth notes and rests.

•Notes- 4th grade- 5 basic notes and more as possible.

5th grade- one octave chromatic scale and more as possible.

•Articulation-  tonguing, slurs, staccato, legato, accent

•Dynamics- p, mp, mf, f

•Tempo- maintain steady tempo. Variety of music in andante, moderato, allegro.

•Time signatures- 2/4, 4/4, ¾. Introduction to 6/8.

•Terms and Symbols- treble clef, bass clef, time signature, bar line, measure, double bar, ledger lines, solo, duet, breath mark, repeat sign, round, tie, key signature, variation, internal repeat, 1st and 2nd endings, slur, divisi, sharp, flat, natural, scale,  ritardando, fermata, pick-up notes, orchestration, multiple measure rest, D.S al Fine, D.C. al Fine, syncopation, crescendo, diminuendo.

•Ensemble techniques- follow conductor, understand conducting pattern, follow instructions, stay together with others, adjust tempos and dynamics, listening skills, recognize melodies versus supporting parts. Responsibility of learning part to help ensemble.


Grade 4 and 5 Guidelines

Grade 4 and 5 Instrumental Guidelines

•Practicing at home will ensure success. Recommendation is 4 or more times per week with chair and music stand. A practice routine should include warming up, working on exercises and music, and playing some favorite music. Use practice record to keep track of progress.

•Students should bring their instrument and music to school on the day of the weekly lesson and the day of the band rehearsal (if different).

•Check with classroom teacher for the time of the weekly lesson. If there is a schedule conflict, please see Mr. Napierkowski to get an alternate lesson time for that week.

•For each lesson, please bring instrument and folder with method book, pencil and other music.

•Clarinet and sax players- be sure to always have extra reeds. Swab instrument after each lesson and practice session.

•Trumpet players- keep valves oiled at home to save time at the lesson in school. Empty water keys frequently.

•Trombone players- keep slide in good working order at home. Empty water key frequently.

•Flute players- clean inside of flute with cleaning rod and cloth after each lesson and practice session.

Creating a Practice Routine

Creating a Practice Routine

The key to success on a musical instrument is practicing. By having a regular routine at home, playing your instrument will become easier and more fun. 4 or more  days a week is the standard recommendation. Have your parents help you create a schedule at home.

 This routine fits a 15-30 minute practice session.


          1. Warm-up                                              2-5 minutes

  • Should be the same each day, add or replace exercises as you improve.
  • Long tones- develops a proper sound and strengthens embouchure muscles, time yourself to see how long you can play.
  • Mouthpiece buzzing for brass, head joint for flute
  • Simple tonguing and slur exercises
  • Accent on instrument lines in book, pages 38-43
  • Warm-up exercise page, airflow and legato page, etc.
  • Concert Bb scale and chromatic scale- page 37

2. Technique                                            3-5 minutes

  • Focus on some concept you are having difficulty with- fingerings, note names, foot-tapping, tone, tonguing, high notes, speed, dynamics, etc.

3. Assignment                                           5-10 minutes

  • Focus on assigned pieces in book and band music. Work on the difficult parts, slow them down and repeat until comfortable. This will ensure progress in your next lesson and will prevent you from being “stuck” on something for too long. If your assignment is easy, feel free to move ahead in the book, learn a new note, etc.

 4. Fun                                                        5-10 minutes

  • Your choice of favorite pieces, improvising, playing by ear something you heard on TV, radio or a movie. There are a variety of songbooks available for your instrument that include recordings. Many music stores have these or can order them. The internet is also a great resource for sheetmusic and recordings.

 5. Write the number of minutes you just practiced in the front of your book                                                      5-10 seconds