The Best $3 Beginner Band Supply Ever

What’s the best $3 beginner band supply students can have the first months of school?

A mirror!

Mirror edit

Photo courtesy of CrossingTheBreak.com

You’ve probably heard the saying “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” If that’s true, then having students see a picture of what you are critiquing with their embouchure saves you 1,000 words. Talk about a time saver!

Imagine that I’m trying to explain something visual to you – maybe a picture of what I see out my window. I can spend a long time describing everything and maybe communicate 50% of what is actually there. Or I can just show you a picture.

That’s what a mirror can do for you with student’s embouchures. Instead of trying to describe foreign concepts to them and trying to fix problems using words, they can see for themselves in the mirror. They will understand much more quickly and clearly what you are talking about. Then, once they are getting it right, they can memorize what it feels like so they don’t need the mirror forever.

Students can also give themselves feedback by checking the mirror when you are trying to watch one of the other 30 students in the class. They take more responsibility in their own learning and improvement.

Students can hold the mirror in their hand when playing on part of the instrument (mouthpiece, barrel, etc.). When playing on the entire instrument they can put it on a stand and raise the stand up extra high. (You will need to walk around the room to see over the stands.) Once they start reading music, they will not be able to look in the mirror anymore, so they should have the muscle memory solid before progressing to reading music.

Percussionists can practice in front of a full-length mirror at home (or even in class).

Here is an example of the type of mirror I prefer. 

(Click on image to get more information and sample pricing.)

If possible, try to get the kind of mirrors that show a clear reflection but are not actually made out of glass. That way they won’t break (as easily) when they fall off stands. You may be able to find them cheaper at stores, but it’s tricky to find enough for a class set. Consider buying extras with the understanding that some will still break from normal use.

If you don’t have funds to provide class sets for use at school, you can ask students to bring a mirror from home to keep in their locker/instrument case. Or if you’re desperate, use the hack of letting kids use their phones on “selfie” mode!

Hope this quick tip helps dramatically improve your first few months of beginning band.

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Related Articles:
Using Student Assistants in Beginning Band
Teaching Students Proper Instrument Care
Proactive Classroom Management – Beginning of the Year

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