When I first started teaching music, I used the resources that were on hand at my school. The method book we had was Standard of Excellence and I wasn’t really happy with it. Almost all of the pieces used the same five notes, were in the same key, and it was rare that new music elements were added.
I came across another method book near the end of the school year. As I flipped through the pages, I was really impressed with it. I loved how the lessons were sequential, easy to follow, and highlighted key skills on every page.
The only problem was that this method book was published in 1960 and my copies were fairly old and beaten up. Some of the books had writing in them, some were missing pages, dog-eared, or stained.
I knew that I wanted to use this method book for my instruction this year, but I also knew the condition the books were in would turn a few students off. I couldn’t order new copies since they were long out of print and I didn’t have the budget to order a new method book either.
So I photocopied each book onto ledger-sized paper and stapled them in the middle. I laminated covers that were easily identifiable by instrument and presto, just like that I had a new method book.
Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps by Maurice Taylor is an excellent resource. By Lesson 5, we are already getting first and second endings, slurs, melody and harmony, solos and tuttis.
The only problem with this book is that the saxophone are required to play notes that are lower than those of their Concert Bb scale. As such, they need to learn more notes than any of the other instruments, which is a challenge when we play beginning sheet music that uses the more familiar Bb scale notes that they haven’t been practising by going through the method book lessons.
That being, said, I think this is a small problem that is easily overcome by using Bb scale warm-ups on a weekly basis.
As such, Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps has become my method book of choice for my music classes. You can print off the PDF files for each book and take them into a copy shop. They can easily run them through a copier to print them off on ledger-sized paper so they are double-sided and can then be folded over to form a book quickly and easily.
Keeping a PDF version on your computer is a great idea as well. This way, you can project the piece of music you are working on directly to your Smartboard. I do this all the time and find it very useful. I hope you will too.
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