Beginning Band: The “FIRST WEEKEND” With Your Instruments

We use “solfege” in band every day. This is so the students can sing the pitches that we expect them to play on their instruments. Solfege will help us stay on neutral syllables, because we are dealing with two “key groups”. In short, flutes/trombones/mallets are pitched in the key of C. Trumpets/clarinets are pitched in the key of B-flat. When the flutes play a B-flat, a clarinet will need to play a C in order to produce the same pitch that the ear hears. This is called transposition.

The students should be used to singing in band every day, and we encourage them to sing the pitches before they play them on their instrument. This will develop their ear-training, which is a necessary skill for any instrumentalist. Brass players should always warm up with long tones on their mouthpieces. The buzz is the most important part of sound creation. Clarinets should always warm up with their mouthpieces and barrels (not a LOUD volume, but controlled), and flutes should warm up with their headjoint sounds.

If anyone forgets hand position or posture, that’s fine! Please visit and search for your child’s instrument. It contains photo reminders of how to hold the instrument, which fingers to put down for the first three notes, and much more! Also, if you click on the button for the beginners one-stop-shop, you’ll find photo reminders of how to put the instruments back in the cases properly. If an instrument is not placed in the case correctly, you could bend the instrument when you close the case.

Students should practice enough to get better at a goal each day. We do not put a time minimum on practicing at home. Everyone develops at their own pace, which might mean that a student could spend 20 minutes practicing a song to get it right, while another student could gain the same amount of progress in 60 minutes. One of our most popular phrases in the band room is “fair is not equal”. Everyone should persist in getting better, remain patient with oneself, and take one step at a time.

As always, please feel free to reach out if you have specific questions. We are so proud of everyone! Have a great weekend of practicing, and please remember to bring your instrument, pencil, binder, and book on Monday, September 9, 2018!

Miss Lacasse & Mr. Wright

Published by Allison Lacasse

Allison Lacasse has been appointed as Band Director at Belmont High School beginning in 2019. She began her career as a music teacher at South Row School in Chelmsford, MA, and then became the Band Director McCarthy Middle School in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, as well as the Associate Band Director for the Chelmsford High School Band Program. In 2018, Allison made her conducting debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the Chelmsford All Town Wind Ensemble, a group she founded. Allison maintains a flute studio of over a dozen flutists. Allison hosts an annual summer flute camp for beginner and intermediate flutists in Chelmsford, and is the artistic director for the URI Summer Music Academy Chamber Music Intensive camp. Allison is an active orchestral flutist and chamber musician in the Greater Boston area. She has performed on flute & piccolo for a number of local orchestras, including the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, Boston Civic Symphony, New Hampshire Philharmonic, South County Chamber Orchestra, among others. She has performed in notable performance spaces such as Jordan Hall and Symphony Hall. She performed in the New York University Summer Chamber Music Institute in 2010 with the Quintet of the Americas. Allison was a student in the Fellowship program of the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival held at Juilliard in the summer of 2012. In 2015, Allison performed as principal flute in the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Onstage at Symphony program. Allison received Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Performance from the University of Rhode Island (2007), a Master of Education degree from Cambridge College (2009), and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from the American Band College with Central Washington University (2018). Allison was a semifinalist for the 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. In 2018, Allison was selected among her peers for the Music Advocacy Award from the Massachusetts Music Educators Association.

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