Your Role as Parents - Notes from the conductor


The most important thing you can do for the developing musician in your household is to encourage them.  I realize it is not always easy listening to them play on their own without the rest of the band, but take a moment to tell them that they sounded better than they did last week.

Attend the concerts!!  All the concert dates are given to the students in September.  I know this seems obvious, after all, what could make a child happier and more excited to know that mom, dad, grandma or grandpa are out there in the audience cheering them on.  But it breaks my heart when a student says, "Oh, my parents don't want to come to the concert." or "They are going out for dinner."  I understand the music does not always sound as good as the Vancouver Symphony, but these are only students and they need your support.  All professional musicians started out as beginners at some point.

Piano lessons and private lessons.  This is a big thank you to all those parents that sent your children to piano lessons or private instrument.  Piano lessons help students develop music reading and listening skills that advance their band playing.  Lessons also introduce students to quality repertoire at a variety of levels.  Well done parents!!


Private Teachers


    Nothing improves a musicians playing as much as practicing and taking lessons with a private teacher.  A private teacher can work to improve a student's sound, technique, tuning, articulation and style.  A private teacher can inspire a student with wonderful musicianship in a specialized way that a regular band teacher cannot.  For those parents whose children are struggling with beginning band instruments or those who would like to advance their current level of playing, feel free to contact us for a list of private teacher recommendations.


Home Practice


If you do not hear your child practicing at home at least twice a week, you should ask them why they are not.  A musicians needs to practice at least twice a week in order to improve their skills.  As you may know, the top concert band, called the Wind Ensemble, is an auditioned group.  The group is auditioned based on the ideal instrumentation for a band of approximately 60 students and on playing and social skills.  While a younger student may pass band by only attending class, they will probably not receive an A or ever develop the skills needed to play in the Wind Ensemble.

How to help your developing musician - what to buy

Wire music stand.  No musician should have to play with their music on their bed or on a chair.  The use of a wire music stand helps develop good posture and in turn good tone.


Metronome.  Musicians need to learn how to play rhythms correctly in time.  A "must-have" for percussionists.  A metronome is a small investment ($25) that keeps a beat for musicians to practice scales, technique etudes and repertoire.  You can even use one online here.  The electronic ones (as in the link) with a light are the best buy.

Tuner.  A tuner helps musicians play in tune.  Instruments, even very good ones, do not automatically play every note in tune; musicians need to adjust many notes with their lips or air to bend them into tune.  A tuner ($25) has a small microphone that picks up the sound and a level tells the player if he/she is sharp or flat.  Students should practice scales with a tuner as well as music that has very high passages.

The Korg
TM-50 combines a tuner and a metronome.  It also includes a clip-on mic, an earphone and batteries.  All for around $35.00!!   Available at most music stores or sometimes I sell them at school; have your child come and see me.

Other upgrades - a better mouthpiece for any brass or wind instrument and good quality reeds such as Rico Royal or Vandoren.  You may even want to reward your child with a new instrument or as I mentioned, private lessons.  If you would like advice on any of these items, email me at



Try to buy your child recordings of good musicians playing on the instrument your child plays.  In their Magee Band Manuals, the students have a list of recommended players for each instrument in classical and jazz categories.
Young musicians need to hear how their instrument is supposed to sound when played by a professional.  Go to the Vancouver Public Library website and order them online to be delivered to your local library. Go to a good music store such as Sikora's or HMV for quality classical recordings.  Downloading music legally from iTunes is also and option. Students can listen online to great recording through the Naxos online music library.  They can access the Naxos library by going to this Vancouver Library page, clicking on Naxos Music Library, and logging into the library with their library card number and password.



Music Education is Basic


"Advocacy is an attempt to communicate between those who support the Arts and those who make decisions regarding the Arts." - Houston, Dunn 1985

Education in Music can Open Doors for Children

The Conference Board of Canada lists many of these academic, personal management and teamwork skills as the foundation. Music education helps develop:


 Problem solving skills


 Goal setting


 Hand-eye co-ordination

 Memory skills

 Self-confidence and esteem



 Time management skills

 Understanding across cultures


 Technological awareness

 Quality of life

 Standards of excellence

And much, much more

Music Does Make the Difference

 When a child studies music, significant elements of his or her education find focus and expression

 developing the ability to understand and use symbols in new contexts

 finding and directing the power of personal creativity and self-expression

 exercising the diverse skills of problem solving

participating in the deeply human satisfaction of shared work and meeting new challenges

Education without music short-changes our children and their futures. Education with music provides students with a competitive edge.

Musical Intelligence:

Research on intelligence and cognitive function points to the possibility that music may be a form of intelligence.

Development Gain:

Music education, especially at an early age, can help open the door to important benefits. Involvement in music powerfully reinforces such crucial characteristics as self-esteem, self-discipline, creativity, and self-expression. It helps develop problem-solving skills, integrates subject matter across the curriculum, and has a high correlation with overall academic achievement.

 Study in Music is Preparation for the Future

Did you know that:

 Students with course work or experience in music scored 50-60 points higher in the SAT verbal portion and 36-50 points higher in the math portion in 1996. -The College Board

 Japan, a world leader both economically and technologically, is extensively revising entire education program, with a major focus on the arts and creative thinking. - Dennis Tupman, Saskatchewan Music Educators Conference Major industries are hiring new computer systems employees on the basis of their creative potential. - Time, June 11, 1990

 The arts are Canada's 11th largest industry, representing fully 4% of the Gross National Product, yet they receive only 0.8% of the total Federal expenditures. - Statistics Canada

 Arts jobs are expected to increase 130% more than non-arts jobs in the 90's. -Statistics Canada

An education in the Arts provides people with a competitive advantage when it comes to getting a job. - Ian Scott, Chief

Hiring Officer, William M. Mercer Limited


"Whether by voice or by instrument, musical performance requires physical control and precision of a high order. A child working at mathematics or languages can sit back and mentally contemplate for minutes before facing difficulty. The same child singing or playing a musical part must both obey exactly and artistically the present behests of the music and at the same time think ahead to prepare herself or himself to deal equally faithfully with what is coming in the music. In no other subject is a child called upon to make four or five decisions a second and act on them continuously for such stretches of time. This combination of constant vigilance and forethought with ever changing physical responses constitutes an educational experience of unique value. Moreover by its nature and traditions the art lends itself more than most activities to the pursuit of excellence to which there is no nobler aim in education".

A quotation of an English music instructor found in a speech by Dr. Frances Rauscher.


More information is available at the Coalition for Music Education website.

Information for Parents