Instrumental Music

Strings

Brass

Woodwinds

Percussion

Jazz

Upgrading Your Instrument

New String Teacher Information

Useful Links

String Resources


This page is a references for Mr. Blostein's orchestra students. The links and information below should serve as a reference for purchases, ideas, and technique.

Throughout the year, we will be working on scale knowledge, shifting ability, bow control, and overall technique. To that end, students will work on lesson materials designed to help them improve in each of these areas, at an ability level appropriate to each student.

It is expected that each student will have an instrument in good working order. To that end, I've listed below specific items students should own (specific brands are not required, but are provided as examples of what students will need):

Lesson Books and Materials

Each lesson will focus on book material, not orchestra music, with very few exceptions. 9th Grade Students should be prepared with the Essential Elements 2000 Book 2, and we will work towards the Strictly Strings Book 3.

Older students will work initially from the Suzuki 3 and Suzuki 4 books (no CD necessary) on their respective instruments. Other materials will be assigned.

(please note - items can be purchased at any local music store - links are simply so you can see materials prior to purchase. Often items are bundled in the links.)

Violin:

A good shoulder rest - I recommend a molded style. There are many of these on the market.
Good rosin
An extra set of strings, and preferably an additional E string. I highly recommend D'Addario Helicore strings, although Preludes are a less-expensive alternative if necessary
A music stand for use at home - I recommend a portable stand for times when these are necessary
A metronome - a smartphone app or computer program may be used
A tuner - a smartphone app or computer program may be used

Violin 2-Octave Scales with Fingerings

Viola:

A good shoulder rest - I recommend a molded style. There are many of these on the market.
Good rosin
An extra set of strings, and preferably an additional A string. I highly recommend D'Addario Helicore strings, although Preludes are a less-expensive alternative if necessary
A music stand for use at home - I recommend a portable stand for times when these are necessary
A metronome - a smartphone app or computer program may be used
A tuner - a smartphone app or computer program may be used

Viola 2-Octave Major Scales with Fingerings

'Cello:

A good endpin strap. You may certainly use a hockey-puck style, but these tend to not work well..
Good rosin
An extra set of strings, and preferably an additional A string. I highly recommend Larsen or Jargar strings, although Prims are a less-expensive alternative if necessary.
A music stand for use at home - I recommend a portable stand for times when these are necessary
A metronome - a smartphone app or computer program may be used
A tuner - a smartphone app or computer program may be used

'Cello 2-Octave Major Scales with Fingerings

Double Bass:

A good endpin strap. You may certainly use a hockey-puck style, but these tend to not work well..
Good rosin - this must be Bass rosin, not violin, viola, oe cello rosin. Many Bass players have two cakes of Rosin - one winter, and one summer.
A music stand for use at home - I recommend a portable stand for times when these are necessary
A metronome - a smartphone app or computer program may be used
A tuner - a smartphone app or computer program may be used

Bass 2-Octave Major Scales with Fingerings


Borrowing instruments:
Cellists and bass players are provided instruments, bows, and endpin rests to use at school. Based upon availability, there may be instruments available for home use. These will be distributed on a need basis, and will require completion of an instrument use form. Students are responsible for all aspects of instrument care, minus normal wear and tear.

Violin and viola players are expected to bring their instrument to school for each rehearsal and lesson. Lockers are provided for storage of instruments and cases when not in use. The school has limited instruments available for students who forget their own very seldom (once or twice a year at most).

Lesson Materials:
All string players in Grade 9 will use the Strictly Strings Volume 3 book. For students in grade 10 and beyond, lesson materials will be worked out in individual lessons.

For Violin and Viola players in Grades 10-12: We're working primarily out of the Suzuki 3 and Suzuki 4 books. Students should purchase these resources.

For Cello players in Grades 10-12: We're working primarily out of the Schroeder 170 Foundation Studies. Students should purchase this resource.


Some useful (and some fun) string related links:
Francis Morris, Violin Maker - (413) 528-0165
John Keal Music - 482-4405
Northeast Music - 783-1658
Deborah Segel Violins - 266-9732
Shar Music
Southwest Strings
Cellos2Go
Johnson String Instrument Company
Bond
Apocalyptica
The Dave Matthews Band (Boyd Tinsley!)

F.A.Q. (Frequently asked Questions)

Question: How much time should students practice?

The true answer to this question will depend upon the student. For most students, and average of about 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week should be a minimum amount of time spent practicing. This means time spent working on the music (be it ensemble, solo, lessons, etc...), NOT the time it takes to set up, take down, or warm-up. The time doesn't include small little breaks. This should be true, intense, focused practice time. However, the student doesn't necessarily need to be playing their instrument during that entire time. Mental practice, as long as it is focused, can be just as or, in some instances, more effective that constantly trying to play through a problem.

Of course, this 20 min/5 day minimum is a minimum, and more is always recommended...

Question: What should students be practicing?

Students should be spending their practice time focused primarily on assignments given them during their weekly lesson. This includes rhythms, pitches, dynamics, articulations, bowings, and all other musical aspects. Students usually have an assignment in their book they use in their lessons - almost all will also get some additional music.

Ensemble music should be practiced, but the primary focus should be on the lesson materials.

During the summer, students should play whatever they find most enjoyable and motivating.

Question: My student never brings their instrument home, but tells me they are practicing. How can this be true?

It could be that the student is spending practice time reviewing rhythms, fingerings, and/or bowings without their instrument. While this is a valid argument, it won't fly all the time. Students do need to be practicing with their instrument a majority of their practice time. We do have limited facilities at school that students can use to practice their instruments.

Question: How often should I have my (student's) instrument professionally cleaned?

It is essential to keep every instrument clean and in proper working order. In order to do this, instruments must be maintained by the student, and then probably once every year or two by a professional repair person. In this area,  John Keal Music Co. (in Albany), Francis Morris (in Great Barrington), Segel Violins (in Troy) or The Violin Shop (in Schenectady) are wonderful resources for strings. We can give you more information at school if you would like.

Question: How often are school lessons, and how much time do students miss from other classes?

School lessons take place once a cycle (roughly once per week), and rotate through the school day so that students end up missing the same class only once every four weeks. This allows for minimal disruption to class time, while maintaining a regular schedule which will hopefully be relatively easy for students to remember.

Question: What can I do to help my student succeed?

First of all, be supportive. Some students like to perform for an audience, some prefer their privacy. Students should always have the small maintenance supplies they will always use, such as rosin, extra strings, etc. Also, a metronome and tuner are highly recommended, and can be extremely useful items for any musician. In general, just try to do what seems best.

If you are interested in the New York State Standards, as well as the National Standards for Arts Education, please check the link below. These outline the basic materials and information which will be covered in music classes.

http://www.nyssma.org/standards.cfm

I hope these help - if you have more, please feel free to ask!

Guidelines for successful practice:
  • Pay Careful attention to a good warm-up. This is the most essential part of a good practice session. Make sure you are listening as well as playing.
  • Set realistic, small, and specific goals, and achieve them.
  • Practice slowly, methodically, and in very small sections - note by note, measure by measure.
  • Focus on the parts that need the most work - make sure these parts are no longer what need the most work.
  • Write in things with a pencil. Mark your music a lot!
  • Use a tuner and metronome to help you stay in pitch and on time!
  • Verbalize (actually speak) challenging rhythms and pitch sections - can you hear them?
  • Take many breaks, and practice in short spurts. We tend to do better in small portions of time than larger ones.

 

Custom apparel, and we get back 12% of every order! Items are affordable, and you can customize! Let them know you are a music student!