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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Students as Teachers: Teach Your Family to pPlay with pBone!

With instrumental students at home, they really do have an opportunity to expand their musical prowess.  One way is to teach their siblings, parents or even grandparents how to play an instrument.


True, it’s not the same as having a qualified music teacher providing guidance (but it could lead to that).  The most important reason for encouraging your students to teach is that so music remains as strong and vibrant activity that the entire family enjoys regularly.

Warwick Music Groups makes high quality plastic instruments because they are ideal for beginners of all ages. Much less expensive than “real” brass instruments, pBone, pTrumpet and the like are designed to be musical, durable and affordable.  Plus each of these instruments comes with two mouthpieces, making it even easier to share the experience.

The first lessons are about moving air and making a buzz.  We’ve got a good video on how simple this can be.  Next, students can teach the positions (or fingerings) by using our slide and fingering charts, or by just following the leader. For brass instruments, moving air, creating the buzz, learning fingerings or slide position can be easily taught by someone who already knows how instruments generally work.

Partials (harmonics) can be identified as low, medium, high (and extra high) and practiced together.

The most difficult part of basic instrument learning, arguably, is learning standard notation.  For informal teaching, student can do what horn groups in pop/rock bands generally do.  They don’t necessarily write out every part using regular notation. Instead, they understand the rhythm and line by listening to each other.  Using non-traditional notation, such as Brass Tabs, makes it easier.  Think about guitar tabs.  There’s no rhythm indicated just fret and finger positions.   We’ve got some simple pep and cheer tunes, as well as pop/rock tunes.  Students can even write their own.

Learning on pBuzz, pBone, pTrumpet,  pCornet or for smaller children, pBuzz and pBoneMini makes the adventure fun, accessible and affordable!

Students can be the teachers at home with these example resources:

  1. A pBone (each has two mouthpieces!), or pBuzz, pTrumpet, pCornet
  2.  How to Buzz  - an instruction video for all pInstruments
  3.  Learn the positions or fingerings by following the leader.  Brass Tab Slide Chart
  4.  Learn the partials together (Low, Medium, High, Extra High)
  5. Use songs formatted in Brass Tabs, then write your own.
  6. Practice together.  Record and post for your friends.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

pBone Places in Outdoor Spaces

What’s your next move?

With the recent federal announcement of the three phases to opening up the American economy, all of us in the music community are eager to get ensembles performing again, and to help new music learners as well.  It might be time to think outside the box – or maybe just OUTSIDE.

As your state or community moves through the gating criteria set forth this week. social group size and social distancing are two of the specific criteria to consider.

pInstruments are an ideal way to make things happen.  Current musicians "who stay at home" can keep up on their musical prowess with a second or third affordable instrument.  Trumpet players would love to try a pCornet.  Trombone players of course want pBone too.  Younger siblings can learn to buzz with pBuzz.  Woodwind players already know how to move air, learning a  pInstrument would be easy for them. 
Many band students have had their instrument locked away at school,
 and won't have access to them until school starts in the fall.  This is potentially catastrophic for some school programs!  pBone and pTrumpet 2.0 at home is a great fix for this.

Consider those who have always wanted to learn to play.  pBone is a great choice and our informal notation (brass tabs) makes it even easier.  Even those who “used to play” in high school can re-learn simple tunes.  They may even want to take some online lessons. 

That’s why we suggest “pBone Places in Outdoor Spaces”.

pBone Circles (or pTrumpet circles) are a great learning tool that can easily be taken outside and played by amateurs.  Social distancing is essential for both good health and great for trombone learning.  In Phase One of the Gating Criteria, limitations to ten people in a gathering tells us small ensembles are permissible. Every pBone, pTrumpet and pCornet comes with two mouthpieces so cleanliness is easier between sessions.  

First demonstrated at the NAMM show in 2014, the pBone circle program takes about an hour and works well with both children and adults.  The complete program includes warm-up activities, call and response and other preparatory steps.  Of course, you will have your own comfort level and teaching style.

As your area enters Phase Two, social settings of up to fifty people and non-essential travel are permitted. Invite groups to come together (as long as they are feeling well and healthy).  Your smaller pBone programs are a great feeder for this larger feel-good event. Schools and organized youth actives can resume, so resume!

One of our favorite “final performance” pieces is I Feel Good with its own backing track.  We’ve got other popular short pieces as well on our Cheer and Pep Song Sheet.

Be your community's music leader! Start just outside your school, move to a park and then to other public spots.  Promote getting out with a nod to social distancing. Bring a few “ringers” to get things started.  Invite the press to show how music strengthens community even under current guidelines. Your music store can help as well. More importantly, you’ll be encouraging more people to take the next step on their great musical journeys.

Be sure to follow your local guidance in all cases, but be ready to lead your community back to music!