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Working with Contrasting Rhythmic Layers

Week 3’s material begins with more left hand technique, expanding on the concepts introduced in Module 2 and continuing with gestures to show dynamics. The section on rehearsal technique begins with an explanation of the ‘Rehearsal Toolkit,” a collection of ideas, or “tools,” each designed to fix a musical issue. Rehearsal tools are meant to supplement the modes of instruction that were discussed last week. In other words, in addition to using direct vocabulary, modeling, and metaphor and analogy, these tools can elicit musical responses when gesture and words fail. A caveat: all of these approaches depend on the musicians having the technique required to perform the repertoire. This may seem obvious, but the fanciest baton twirl and colorful analogy are meaningless to help, say, a trumpeter, perform staccato if he does not tongue properly and employ good embouchure. Fundamentals must be taught, either in or out of the rehearsal, and the appropriate method depends on the level and age of the musician in the ensemble.Module 3 concludes with multi-purpose tools, including singing and “bopping.” These are the Swiss-Army knives of rehearsal technique, each useful for a variety of issues, from articulation to balance to rhythm. As you acquire the tools discussed in this module, also consider what else you can put in your toolbox. What techniques do you currently use? What tools can you borrow from other musicians? The more options we have in rehearsal the more likely we will be to solve a musical problem.

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