Cool Stuff to do with Your Band
Let’s make this a place where band directors can come to find the cool stuff we do with our ensembles…you know…think of one of your funniest teaching days, you were prepped, your students knew what to expect…y’all had a great time and also made some music. Check it out, if you have some stuff to add, send us your cool plans: mail@hamiltunes.org We’ll post ’em here for everybody to use and.share!
YOU.WILL.NOT.BELIEVE.HOW.QUIET.and.WELL.BEHAVED.YOUR.BAND.IS.WHEN.YOU:

Call Someone

Have an Instrument Swap

Have an Open Rehearsal Day

Make an Answering Machine Message

Play “Name that Tune”

rehearse and perform a piece from the
All Instruments Are Created Equal series or
Klezmer Series for Band (…I couldn't resist)

Say Something Funny (or at least interesting)
this will take you to a brand new page, what joy

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Call Somebody!

I got this from watching too much Letterman in the late 80’s. I loved it when Dave would call his Mom during the show, so…I started making calls with my band during rehearsals. We would play Happy Birthday to our moms, perform something for a musician we respected, or make other crazy calls. It became a tradition on Valentine’s Day, and a fund raiser as well. The schools faculty and administration would pay us small fee to send the gift of music (i.e. a junior high band rendition of I Love You Truly or Unchained Melody) to their loved ones. We would serenade them over the phone, filling up offices, homes, and voice mail with gorgeous romantic music (again, keep in mind it’s a junior high band…) The beautiful thing was the students attitudes, they always treated it like a performance and were always quiet and respectful during the inevitable positive feedback we would receive from the callee (I should have said earlier: use a speaker phone). It was always one of the funniest rehearsals of the year and always put our program in a positive light with colleagues and.administrators.

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Instrument Swap!

This comes The Instrumentalist magazine c.1989, and I would love to credit the author if anyone knows who wrote the article. It involves having a day when your students swap instruments and spend a short amount of time trying to teach their instrument to their partner…it is pure chaos, yet great fun, and your students do get a feel for the difficulty level of different instruments and how hard it was for you to teach them! Here are some notes on having a successful.swap:
Plan it in advance. The week before the big day have the students randomly pick their partners, BUT do it in such a way that saxophones cannot partner up with clarinets because of their similar fingerings (and their untrue cries of: “it’s the same embouchure”) and trumpets, baritones, tubas are also not partnered due to their same fingerings. You’ll have to make other decisions based on your class size, for example: should your baritone and trombone players be partnered since they use the same mouthpiece? and how are you going to handle the flute player that says: “…but I already know how to play the trumpet!”.? Also, know that most everyone will hope to: “get the drums”,…oy…Instruct your students to think about how they will teach a beginner (their partner) to play their.instrument.
Pick an easy 3 or 4 note tune they already know in the key of Eb major (in order to give the “flute” players a fighting.chance).
Have all the extra reeds, drum sticks, mouthpieces and/or a mouthpiece antiseptic ready to go, with plenty of paper towels and other cleaning supplies. Make sure your students know that they are not to share mouthpieces and reeds without properly cleaning them. Have in place a routine for passing out and collecting these.materials.
When your students arrive the day of the swap, have them sit in their regular seats with their regular instruments and warm them up the regular way (routines are important!). Play through the easy tune you have selected to hear what it should sound like. Then let the games begin…you will have to watch the time closely and have them switch from teacher to student after a mere 10 or 15 minutes. Yes, it’s loud and uncomfortable and not an ideal teaching environment…are there any free rooms where at least the new flutes can go to hear if they’re getting a.sound?
With about 10 minutes left in the class you’ll want to quietly have everyone take their new seats with their new instruments…now the real fun begins. Perform your unison piece again. When it doesn’t sound so good, act concerned and go around to each section of the band asking them to perform…boy, the fun and good feelings just never stop in your room…and now, if you have a free period, take a.nap.

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Have an Open Rehearsal Day

For real fun: invite a lower grade or two to come to a rehearsal. Ideally, they should sit right in between and with members of your band. You can show them what’s happening by having your band: go through their regular warm up routine; work on a piece as they regularly do; show them the role of each section. Find a cool piece (I used an easy arrangement of Wipe Out) and have each section of the band demonstrate their role by rehearsing their part alone. “…and this is what the trombones and tenor saxes sound like on the tenor part…”. For the big finale you can say: “…and this is what the band sounds like when you put it all together!”, and play your cool piece with everyone. This is a great recruiting opportunity (now would be a good time to push how fun it is to play a low brass instrument, etc.) BONUS— The teachers of these students will love you because they just got a free period…nice.goin’.

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Make an Answering Machine Message

well, you don’t have to actually use it but…
Our students love to be recorded and allowed to listen back to their work. If you treat it like a performance there is a chance for serious rehearsing. If you want to do something weirder, make it so the conclusion is: your phone rings; the caller is greeted by your wonderful band beginning one of their contest pieces; your melodious voice gently says: “we’re sorry we’re unable to answer the phone right now, we’re rehearsing for our big spring festival on May 29 at 7 pm, please leave a message at the beep...”, at this point your band has just TRAIN WRECKED (don’t worry, that will be the easy part) and you’re heard shouting in a not so gentle voice: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing! Take it again from Letter A” Band: (unison)“GROAN”, You, (gently again): “and ah 1, and ah 2, and ah”BEEEEEEPPhilarious, especially when it’s a salesperson.calling.
When you listen back to it, don’t forget to explain to your band that the reason the recording they are about to hear sounds so bad, is because of the cheap speaker inside your answering machine, not because they sound.bad!

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Play Name that Tune

you know the drill:
two even teams–like say: brass + percussion vs. woodwinds?;
play from a book of popular and/or children’s melodies; you’ll also have to play some melodies by ear, can some of your better students sight read some tunes, and not be contestants? Is it appropriate to have one person keep score and not be a.contestant?
Instruct everyone that if you hear the tune shouted out or whispered by anyone except the contestants, it is an immediate point for the other team, no questions asked. One player from each team compete head on, each using a percussion instrument as their buzzer; you play the tune…when someone buzzes in, stop immediately and ask them to name that tune? …if they name it correctly give their team a point and move on to the next two new contestants; if not, play the entire melody for the other player, giving them a chance to earn a point for their team…if they fail to name it correctly, move on to the next two new contestants and save that tune for.later,
Infuriate the students by trying to make it end in a tie, adding a lightening round at the end if one team is considerably ahead…; also, be prepared to answer the question: “What do we.win?”;
some melodies you may have forgotten: movie themes from Jaws (two notes), Pink Panther, James Bond, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars; popular TV shows, like The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, The Addams Family; Christmas tunes— and of course My Little Dreydl and Hava Nagila; melodies from past band or chorus pieces; school song; blah,.blah…

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