5th Grade Woodwinds Practice Blog


    Posted by Nicole Smith on 1/25/2020

    Monday, February 10, Evening Winter Concert in White Hill Gym
    (all schools will play together):
    5th GRADE CLARINET, FLUTE, TRUMPET, and TROMBONE (BAND) CONCERT - Monday, February 10th, 7:00-8:00pm in the White Hill Gym
     - Students should arrive at 6:30pm in performance attire (RVSD 5th Grade Music T-shirt with nice jeans or dark pants). This concert will also feature performances by the White Hill Symphonic Band and Jazz Band.

    Please be Practicing the following songs in preparation for the concert:

    #25 Lightly Row
    # 31 Mozart Melody
    #57 Ode to Joy
    #58 Hard Rock Blues

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  • 5th Grade Music-T-Shirt Information

    Posted by Nicole Smith on 12/1/2019

    Music T-Shirt for 5th Grade Evening concert attire:
    Please click here to purchase your child's music t-shirt
    (Shirts will be delivered by the end of January, a few weeks before our evening concerts in February.)
    T-SHIRT ORDERS are due by December 6th

    5th grade student musicians are asked to wear a 5th grade music t-shirt with jeans or dark pants for our evening concerts this year. The requested donation is $10 per shirt.

    PLEASE NOTE: The shirt design is the same as previous years. If your child is going to wear a purple music t-shirt that has been handed down by an older sibling or neighbor, please email Pete Santucci to let him know you do not need to purchase one. Thanks!

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  • Practice makes Perfect..... Right....?

    Posted by Nicole Smith on 10/19/2019

    Hello Flutes and Clarinets!

    We are still working with the 5 notes at the top of page 6 in your book.  The songs we are currently playing are #14 Rolling Along, #25 Lightly Row, #27 Reaching Higher and the option of #31 Mozart Melody if all of the previous songs are being played with ease. 

    But let's focus first on your practice routine.  How DO you practice?

    1. Set aside some time specifically for practice.  No distractions, no TV or music blaring in the background.  A quiet space for you to focus on the task undisturbed.

    2. A chair and music stand.  No couchy slouching, floor sitting, or bean bag chairs, please.  If you don't have a music stand, make sure you are in an area where you can somehow prop your book up, putting in flat on the floor will NOT do, because then your chin will be towards your chest as you look down, changing the angle you are playing your instrument at and making everything about 1 million times more difficult.

    3. Assemble instrument and sit properly (feet flat on ground, no slouching!)  Hold your instrument properly. Flutes, no shoulder balancing! Hold that thing up!  Neutral chin, eyes forward, don't look down. Clarinets, watch those "lego man hands" ("c" shape, stay away from side keys, do NOT brace your right, bottom hand on the side keys, use only your thumb rest.  Left hand plays up top, and cover holes completely while staying away from that pesky top side key!

    4. ***Clarinets, start with long tones.  Get a timer and see how long you can hold each note for, try it for all 5 notes at the top of page 6.  Lots of cold, fast air, all the way through the Clarinet, think about filling the Clarinet up with air from the bottom all the way to the top.  Your sound should be constant, not "stoppy starty" when you are playing one LONG note. 10 seconds is a good beginner length, and if you can build up to play longer that is great.
    ****Flutes, bring the flute to your face, not your face to the flute (yes it makes a huge difference! Do not jut your chin and face out towards the instrument, have a neutral spine (sit straight) and bring the flute up to YOU.  Find the center of the emboucher hole by placing it over the middle of your closed lips and roll down to playing position (middle of emboucher hole under or slightly on your lower lip depending on what works for you. Start with long tones.  On flute, even 3 seconds is a great start. Remember not to over blow, and keep the space between your lips as closed as possible to let as little air escape as possible while still creating a sound. RELAX. I know flute is frustrating, but if you tense up it gets even more difficult!

    5.  After playing your long tones on EVERY NOTE, choose a piece to work on.  Work on the fingerings and rhythms. After you can play the song BY ITSELF, Use the Essential Elements interactive                                      https://www.essentialelementsinteractive.com/
    You need the code from your book (inside the front cover on the first page) and an adult to help you set up an individual student account the first time, and thereafter you will be able to access it with your username and password .

    6.  Try to practice several times a week.  The more often you repeat the practice process, the more quickly you will improve.  Playing your instrument only during music class or "cramming" one 30 minute practice session in a week will not help you progress as quickly or consistently as a repeated, structured practice routine!  

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  • Rolling Along with Hot Cross Buns and then Lightly Row

    Posted by Nicole Smith on 10/7/2019

    Sorry about that uninspiring name, I was trying to get all the song names in the title for those of you that don't read the whole post!  But I guarantee you it's worth it to read the whole thing

    This week you are working on Page 6, songs #14 Rolling Along, #17 Hot Cross Buns.  If you can comfotably play both those pieces, please start to play Lightly Row (just the first line).  Remember that we are striving for Progress, not Perfection, and play the songs as slowly as you need to switch fingerings or articulate with accuracy.  It is always easier to speed something up after learning it than it is to learn something trying to play it at the speed you want to hear it at.... Go slowly, play slowly.... Soon we will be able to speed the tempo of these pieces up.

    For fun play along tracks, access the book's website: a Simple Library of play along tracks is available at www.myeelibrary.com, while www.essentialelementsinteractive.com has different "style" (country, rock, jazz etc....) tracks to play along with and enter the "Student Activation Code" inside the front cover of your book.  . Find the song number you want to play with and make sure your speakers are on. For the "interactive website" you'll need to create a username and a password, for the Library, you will not. 
    As always, if there is something you are confused about, try looking through previous blog posts here and watching the videos posted for help with your instrument.  You can also contact me at nsmith@rossvalleyschools.org.


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  • Slow and steady is the key!

    Posted by Nicole Smith on 9/18/2019

    Hello Woodwinds-
    We are starting to work together now, slowly but surely! 

    This week you should be playing and memorizing the notes at the top of page 6 in Essential Elements.  They are in the rectangular orange box at the top of the page called "Notes in Review". Play them from high to low (left to right) and low to high (right to left).  Skip around! The more familiar you are with these notes and fingerings, the more successful you will be in class and in your at home practice. 

    Clarinets, remember tonguing/articulation ("thu thu thu") we practiced this in class and
    Click here for a video to help you with the 5 notes.

    Click here for a video to help you with the clarinet embouchure if you're having trouble making a sound or making the right sound.

    Click here for a video on articulating (using your tongue against the reed to start and stop notes). This is a very good exercise and it will hopefully clear up what to do.

    ​Flutes, bring your flute to you, not your face to the flute.  Start your sound with a "phh" or "tuu" depending on what works well for you.  By far the hardest switch with fingerings is from D to C. HERE is a video to help you with that. PLEASE Practice this all important D C challenge!!!

    Click here for some helpful videos of the first five notes and tips on how not to drop your flute and how to switch between the notes.

    Keep up the tough, good work up, and be gentle with yourselves, you're doing something SUPER HARD !

    See you next week!

    -Ms Smith



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  • Welcome oh Welcome!

    Posted by Nicole Smith on 9/8/2019

    Hello Fifth grade Woodwind students!  If you're reading this, you are doing one of your homework assignments (I did say to check the blog, didn't I? ) here is the information you'll need in order to practice.  Scroll down and read the blub I wrote for your instrument and don't forget to look at the very bottom of the post for the funny picture. 

    Hello Clarinettists!  The following is a series of videos going over what we learned in class this past week: Assembling your instrument, hand position (aka how to hold the instrument), and how to produce a tone.  Diligent attention to details at the beginning of your clarinet journey will assure good habits, and since repetition is the mother of learning, repeating the steps correctly every time you go to put your instrument together and practice will instill good habits from the very beginning!  enjoy. Oh, and this guy, Anthony McGill has some pretty awesome credentials-- he is the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic- that means he's the big cheese as far as clarinetists are concerned! He played at the 2008 inauguration of President Obama too! Wow!

    And here's one of Anthony playing-- absorb this sound-- this is the sound we all strive to get on the Clarinet!  It's a bit of an advertisement, but ignore that part and listen to him play :)

    Hello Flautists!
    Here are some videos to watch to support you in your first flutey steps of the year.  I find the guy in the video very clear and easy to understand, and I like his hair gel hair.  I like how he shows the wrong way and also the right way, but really, he won my "this is the video I am posting" contest because of his cool hairdo and his uncanny resemblance to Jack Black.   Enjoy!


    Need a Practice Log?
    If you need the Wednesday Music Practice log for Manor and Wade Thomas students, click here!

    If you need the Thursday Music Practice log for Brookside and Hidden Valley students, click here!

    Music Grading Rubric:
    Also please make sure you have read your Music Grading Rubric with your parents so that you know what you are being graded on during music class this year.



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  • Welcome to Woodwinds!

    Posted by Nicole Smith on 8/30/2019

    Welcome to our Woodwinds Blog!

    I am so happy to be your instructor for Flute and Clarinet this year!  I am looking forward to a year of challenges, triumphs, practice, performances, and always, fun!

    Your assignment for this week is to get your parent or guardian's signature on the grading rubric we handed out in class, and turn it in to me next music class.

    Please bring your instrument and method book (Essential Elements for band vol. 1) to class next week.  If you still need to obtain and instrument, you can rent one through a music store, or you can borrow one from the school district.
    For Rentals, two local sources are:

    The Magic Flute      
    182 Northgate One
    San Rafael CA 94903
    (415) 479-3112

    Marin Music Center
    1559 South Novato Blvd
    ​Novato, Ca 94947
    (415) 897-4131       

    The school district owns a small number of instruments that can be loaned to students for the year. If you are interested in using a district-owned instrument, please contact Music Department Co-Lead Teacher, Pete Santucci (psantucci@rossvalleyschools.org). The YES Foundation pays to have each school instrument cleaned and repaired each year. A suggested $50 donation is requested for each loaned instrument to help with its maintenance, but any amount will help with this effort. This donation is completely voluntary and is not required. All discussions will be kept confidential.

    Here is the list of supplies you will need for each instrument.  This information and the information above was already sent out in an email in June, so if you already obtained your instrument and supplies, do not worry, the list has not changed.

    Flutes need:
    Flute, case labeled with student’s name
    Cleaning rod and cloth or rag
    Essential Elements for Band, Flute Book 1, Hal Leonard Publications
    Pencil (required for every class)

    Clarinets need:
    Clarinet, case labeled with student’s name
    ​#2 clarinet reeds (qty: 2)
    #2 ½ clarinet reeds (qty: 5)
    Cork grease
    Cleaning swab
    Essential Elements for Band, Clarinet Book 1, Hal Leonard Publications
    Pencil (required for every class)

    Please have your parents email me at nsmith@rossvalleyschools.org if you have any questions about instruments, the class, or supplies!

    See you next week!

    ​-Ms Smith

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