Teach Cut Time – Play the Method Book in Cut Time!

Want a creative and fun way to teach cut time? Play back through the method book in cut time. This is a great activity to do with beginners in April or May!

  • Go back to the beginning of the beginner band book.
  • Teach them what cut time is using some of the earliest lines in the book.
  • Have the students play the entire beginning book in cut time!
    (Or at least the first part of it.)
  • Put 4 beats between each line and just play. Keep talking/instruction to a minimum.

Here are some reasons it’s great:

  • It will go really quickly – lots of momentum and playing time.
  • Great review.
  • The kids will love it!
  • They will get to see how much they have improved since September.
  • It improves their technique/speed.
  • The students that struggle on the more advanced things you’re doing now will be able to do this review successfully and they will realize that they have also improved.
  • When they get to 3/4 lines, have them play them in compound time. Great practice for compound foot tap – Down Press Up. If you haven’t yet taught compound foot tap, this is a great chance to do it. (See post here on teaching compound foot tap)
  • When they get to eighth note lines, they’ll be practicing 16th note counting in cut time. Since it’s on lines they are familiar with they should have an easier time than if it was on new music.
  • When they get to 3/4 lines with 8th notes, they can practice counting compound time with 16ths which is great! Lots of fun!

Be sure to give them a ‘talk’ similar to this when you get to a good line that this applies to:

Hey guys, look at line 25. Do you remember in October when we played that line? Man – I remember!  We spent a ton of time learning that line. You thought it was really really hard. Most of you had to go home and practice it a lot and we worked on it one measure at a time. We had to get your fingers to do what we wanted. We had to get your tongue to do what we wanted. You had to really concentrate on embouchure and hand position. Some of you didn’t really know those note names. It was a really challenging line back then.

How many of you think it’s really really hard now?

No, it’s really easy now! And guess what. We’re going twice as fast! So it should be twice as hard now, but it’s not. Why is that?

See what they say – then follow up with this:

  • You’re better players. Much better players. Did that happen in a day? No. It happens over time. It’s all your hard work paying off. You took you a few days to learn that line back in October and now you can play it after a couple minutes – in cut time! What made it easy is all the work you’ve done every day since October.
  • You know how to read music so much better. You’re not struggling with trying to figure out what the symbols are. You know your note names and you know the fingerings.
  • You have good habits. You don’t have to constantly think about your embouchure and your tonguing. You don’t feel awkward holding your instrument. You have the basics down.
  • You have more technique. You are used to playing tons more notes than this. You know your scales. You have played so much more difficult lines. That makes this easy. The more technique you have, the easier it is to play lines like this.

So when I ask you now if you think line 25 is hard you say no. Most of you back in October would have said yes. What’s different? Many hours of practice.

Usually when you think things are hard, they really aren’t hard. They are just new. Once they aren’t new anymore they won’t be hard anymore. And the way you make things NOT new is by practicing. A lot. Over time.  And eventually it will be easy. What seems hard to you now (give an example – full chromatic scale, line 120 etc.) will not seem hard to you this time next year. Depending how much you practice, it won’t seem hard to you in 3 weeks. It’s all about making it NOT new. It’s all about practice and consistent hard work.

You should all be really, really proud of yourselves for how much you have improved. It is remarkable.

Related Reading:
Band Dice Games – Beginning Band Games
Demystifying Double Reeds
What is Google Classroom?

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