Weeks 4 and 5

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Photos from Burradon Community Primary School.

Week 4 was a consolidation week, where we started learning “Get on Up, Get on Down” using just C, E and G.

Some children (and adults) find it easier to play lower notes (e.g. C instead of G or A instead of E) and one or two can play higher notes more easily. We’re not too concerned about getting the right note at this stage as the control required to do this will develop with practice. The important thing is that the children listen, take a good breath, try to copy  and produce a nice sound!

In week 5 we moved things on a bit and learnt 2 new notes F and D. This is a big help to those learning the cornet because moving up from C, D, E, F to G is easier than jumping from C to G directly. However, for the young trombone players D is not yet playable as it is in 6th position and their arms are not long enough! We had quite a few brave attempts to reach that far and still play the instrument but it involved twisting the face to try and play sideways – a bit comical and not to be encouraged otherwise we’ll have stiff necks and bad habits! Not to worry though because we have alternative notes for the trombone players, and their arms will grow soon enough.

We’ve also introduced tonguing with a “te” or “de” (or “ta” or “da”) and this helped note production. We now have 3 things to think about: listening, breathing and tonguing – it’s getting more complicated but practice makes it easier again!

During the listening break, we played Freres Jacques, starting in unison then twice as a round and finally in unison again, and we talked about harmony. Then everyone started to learn the first 2 phrases – C, D, E, C and E, F, G, except that the trombones will play F instead of D i.e. C, F, E, C.

We must mention Steve’s brilliant performance of an arrangement of “My Grandfather’s Clock” at all the schools in week 4. Could anyone see his fingers move as the valves went up and down at phenomenal speed? A real wow factor, and hopefully some inspiration for the children. Steve started playing cornet at age 13, moved onto tenor horn and now plays euphonium. He’s 21 now, but he could play that well by age 18, so that’s only 5 years progress.

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