Simple Music Practice Tips from Mr. Martin!

Music is a rewarding and lifelong journey that can begin at any time and place. Oftentimes the joys of music-making can be lost (for some!) by the dread of regular practicing.

I know our returning musicians are probably thinking about their private lessons for the year and (potentially) cramming in some last hours of practice time before Wednesday, September 14!

Please see below for a few simple practice tips for aspiring musicians of any age:

 

  1. Drink water and take care of bodily health. It’s good to stay active, but also make sure you feel relaxed and centered before beginning practice time. This is important to make sure no injuries occur, as well as to ensure a productive session!
  2. Warm up before practicing scales or repertoire. This could mean playing/singing long tones, taking deep breaths, or another warm-up technique given by your private instructor.
  3. Slow down! It is common for musicians to practice tricky sections of music at an inappropriately fast tempo. When learning or practicing a new/challenging section, make sure to take the tempo down to a crawl. Then work your way  up to the faster tempo.
  4. Quality over Quantity. There are a lot of varying opinions about practice time. For an adult, 1 hour of great practicing is worth 4 hours of mindless practicing. Or for a younger student, 15-30 minutes of daily practicing could do the trick. If you have more questions about developmental appropriateness and practice time, feel free to reach out.
  5. Be mindful of repetition. From an outside perspective, great practicing probably sounds like lots of repetition of various musical snippets of a piece. What the musician’s brain does, however, is practice getting one thing right (i.e. hand position or a tricky accidental note) and building on another element, in order to bring the piece closer to concert-ready.
  6. JOY. What a great privilege and opportunity to have the chance to play beautiful music! Even when playing a scale, we can bring expression and joy to that by thinking about how much we love what we do.
  7. Take time off. One mantra could be: Practice 6 days straight, and then give yourself a break on 1. Private instructors can give more specific advice on how to best take breaks and avoid burnout.

Thanks for  reading, and happy practicing to our BCD performers!

Musically Yours,

Mr. Martin

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Here’s a fun photo of me in soundcheck, preparing for a 2014 performance in Beijing, China.

(Feel free to reach out to cmartin@berkshirecountryday.org with any questions.)

 

By |2017-08-11T11:06:28+00:00August 31st, 2016|

When to start private music lessons?

This is a question asked frequently here at BCD and in my private studio.  There is no “magic age” to start and no one correct answer to this question.  Generally, brass and woodwind lessons are given to students around 4th grade. Guitar is most often taught starting in 3rd grade. Piano, violin, viola and cello are great choices for our students to begin as early as 3 years old.

I had the opportunity to begin with piano lessons at 4 years old, and that’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Having said that, there’s a dialogue between teacher, student, and parent that informs these choices. My mom says I made it abundantly clear piano was an early passion!

Begin lessons when your child is ready to take direction from an adult, take responsibility for practicing and when the family is ready to devote time, money and energy into this wonderful new adventure.

 

Feel free to reach out to me at cmartin@berkshirecountryday.org with any additional questions. Happy Summer 2016!

 

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By |2017-08-11T11:08:05+00:00July 8th, 2016|

Celebrate our Artists! Open Studios is May 31st…

Join BCD’s teaching artists and K-9 students on Tuesday, May 31st from 3:30 – 5:30PM to celebrate artworks created during the spring trimester! Open Studios is a special opportunity for parents, families, and friends to view experimental and finished works of art in each of our three atelier spaces. Students and faculty will be present to talk about projects and experiences as they pull back the curtain on their ideas and processes. This term, our distinguished teaching artists included Tom O’Neil, Maggie Mailer, Ben Evans, and Max Spitzer. Come sip lemonade, view extraordinary works of art, and hear from the artists themselves!

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By |2016-10-25T15:02:15+00:00May 26th, 2016|

Fifth Grade Book Drive!

Time for the annual Fifth Grade Book Drive!

In conjunction with Reader-to-Reader, a Springfield-based non-profit organization, the Fifth Grade is collecting books!

Reader-to-Reader serves children in rural and underserved communities in the US and around the world. We are excited to continue this community service project in 2016! Last year, Fifth Grade collected several hundred books for this important cause.

Please bring your gently used children’s books (through Grade 9) to the Fifth Grade homeroom in the next week. No textbooks, magazines, videos or reference materials, please!

Thanks for your support!

Grade Five

By |2016-05-16T20:08:32+00:00May 16th, 2016|

What a Wonderful Trip for Grade 8!

IMG_2042The 8th grade is back safe and sound from their fantastic Everglades adventure, and by all accounts it was a fantastic experience! The students visited the Everglades and Big Cypress – exploring by air boat, by kayak, by bike, and on foot. They also took some time to relax and bond at the beach. Much was learned and a great time was had by all. Check here for more photos from their adventure.

By |2019-01-10T12:38:35+00:00March 11th, 2016|

OPEN STUDIOS is next Tuesday!

Our K-9 students have been as busy as ever in the Art Studios this winter! Grades 5 and 6 have been hand building with Mr. Evans in the Ceramics Studio while Mr. Spitzer has Kindergarten through Fourth grade students working on a variety of collaborative drawing and painting projects next door. Upper School students are sculpting in clay with Mr. Evans and painting with this trimester’s teaching artists Tom O’Neil and Maggie Mailer. We can’t wait to show parents, friends, and the BCD community what we’ve been up to on TUESDAY, MARCH 1st at our Winter Open Studios Event! Everyone is invited to swing by the studios between 4:30 – 6:30PM to see finished artworks, works-in-progress, and a few surprises. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa and join us in celebrating the students’ hard work this trimester!

WINTER OS Poster

By |2016-10-25T15:02:20+00:00January 22nd, 2016|

Reminder about our Winter Music Concert

Winter Music Concert

December 11th, 1:30 p.m.

Furey Hall

This concert will feature the LS Chorus, MS Chorus, US Vocal Ensemble, MS Band, US Band, and the Guitar Ensemble.

The doors to Furey Hall will open at 1:00.

Concert attire for Lower and Middle School Choruses

We have chorus t-shirts for the children which they can wear over their own shirts or can wear alone.  They will be given out on the day of the concert.  

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

By |2015-12-03T15:23:42+00:00December 3rd, 2015|

Where there’s smoke there’s POTTERY, the Evans/Spitzer takeover, and Westward HO HO HO!

NEWSFLASH from the Art Studios!

To cap off the end of the first trimester, Upper School ceramics students completed an ambitious pottery project involving  traditional decorating and firing techniques inspired by the work of Magdalene Odundo. Clay pieces were burnished with terra sigillata and given an iron wash before being fired in saggars in an outdoor pit firing kiln which the students built by hand. Using bricks, wood pieces, and sawdust students assembled the pit, inserted their pieces, and lit the interior on fire before covering the top to preserve the high temperature and to produce smoke. The kiln burned for 24 hours before the final artworks were removed.

In other Arts Block news, Mr. Knoll’s Drawing students received a special visit from artist Valaire Van Slyck last week. The Detroit native paints urban scenes using auto-motive paints, acrylic, confetti, and glitter among other mixed media. Students were treated to individual conversations and critiques from Valaire as they worked on their graphic novel projects.

Teaching artists Ben Evans and Max Spitzer have stepped in to offer new media and experiences for our K-6 students! Kindergarten through Fourth Grade students are working with Mr. Evans this winter for an in-depth trimester of pinching, pounding, and hand-building with clay in the Ceramics Studio. Meanwhile, Mr. Spitzer takes charge of the Fifth and Sixth Grade classes as they delve into a term packed with drawing and painting projects. Great things are bound to emerge with this dynamic duo at the helm!

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Students become cowboys and cowgirls as part of BCD’s contribution to the Berkshire Museum’s 2015 Festival of Trees. Fully embracing the theme “Westward Ho, Ho, Ho” in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibits, “Greatest Photographs of the American West” and “Go West“, Lower and Middle School students posed for photos which were then cut and pasted into authentic images of old west characters. Real and fictional, from Annie Oakley to Clint Eastwood, students embodied sharp shooters, outlaws, deputies, and lawmen. The images were printed in sepia tone, mounted on burlap, and hung on the tree with handwritten quotes from these characters along with other rustic, copper decorations. Click HERE to read more about BCD’s tree and the Festival of Trees in the Berkshire Eagle!

 

By |2016-10-25T15:02:23+00:00November 18th, 2015|

5th Grade Visits Mass MoCA

Last week, 5th Grade students had an opportunity to get up close and personal with artworks by world-renown artists at Mass MoCA. In conjunction with our study of installation art, a guided tour focused on site-specific works by Francesco Clemente, Jim Shaw, and Clifford Ross. From Indian tents to failing superheros, to a 100 foot photograph, students participated in an active viewing experience that called for critical thinking, aesthetic interpretation, and personal reflection. Following the tour, the class had an art-making session in the museum’s Kidspace studio where visual prompts from the Jim Shaw exhibition allowed students to create their own narrative comic strips. Special thanks to Dr. Lederman and Debbie Jaferian for joining us on the adventure!

Back at BCD, the class is working on a collaborative installation of their own. Students wrapped over 200 paper cups in plaster strips that, when dried, yielded cup-like forms which were then dipped in purple, green, and blue paint. This week, the 5th Grade will work together to install the pieces in a space in the school. Stay tuned to see the final installation!

 

 

By |2016-10-25T15:02:28+00:00November 1st, 2015|