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Band, Orchestra, and More: When Young Musicians Use Our Music

Children and youth comprise an important part of the patronage at a public library, and this is certainly true here at the Music Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped as well.  Young musicians use NLS music materials in a variety of ways as they learn to play instruments.  Here are some scenarios. 

Band:

Many beginning band programs start in middle school.  These classes are designed for a full wind-band of brass and woodwinds, and usually include percussion.  Typical wind instruments are the flute, clarinet, trumpet, and trombone.  As students progress on their individual instruments, instructors often expand the band’s instrumentation by asking some players to move to new instruments like the tuba, baritone, French horn, bass clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, and oboe.  Percussionists play multiple rhythm and melodic instruments like the snare drum, bass drum, timpani, cymbals, xylophone, and bells. 

Photo of a school band with string instruments, Washington, D.C. ca. 1920.

Photo of a school band with string instruments, Washington, D.C. ca. 1920.

A single music method book in the key of each instrument can keep an ensemble together by playing and learning at a similar pace.  Standard of Excellence: Comprehensive Band Method is the most popular band method book requested from the Music Section.  It is available in braille and large print.  In 2012, Standard of Excellence, book 1 for the B-flat trumpet, was the number one most downloaded book from the Music Section.  Did you know you can read braille music and play the trumpet at the same time?  We also keep within our archives some older editions of titles, like Yamaha Band Student and Essential Elements: A Comprehensive Band Method, as well as The Belwin Band Builder and First Division Band Method

Piano:

When young children begin taking piano lessons, their needs are basic.  A teacher may suggest a series like Alfred’s Basic Piano Library by Willard Palmer, Piano Adventures by Nancy Faber, or Bastien Piano Basics by James and Jane Bastien.  A book course of this nature is designed to increase in difficulty as a player progresses.  A student can develop from a beginner to an advanced player using the teaching methods of a single book series

Besides learning strictly from a method book students can often find works by famous composers at a level they can play, such as the First Book for Young Pianists with pieces by Mozart, and A First Haydn Book.  The National Guild of Piano Teachers has published Guild Repertoire, which provides students from beginning to advanced levels with a variety of pieces to play for National Guild auditions.  We own this collection in large print.  These pieces are great for an advancing pianist to work through without having the end goal of an audition in mind. Players are exposed to an abundance of musical styles and genres, as well as prominent and influential composers which could build a strong knowledge base of music repertoire as they move forward in training. 

Orchestra:

Photo of young violin students.

Photo of young violin students.

Similar to beginning band programs, beginning orchestra programs start for many young musicians in elementary or middle school.  Standard orchestra instruments include violin, viola, cello, and bass.  Ensembles also have a limited number of brass and woodwind instruments, and a full range of percussion instruments. NLS has numerous scores and parts for orchestra music in large print and braille.  Like some band programs, an orchestra teacher may suggest students use a method book series such as Essential Elements for Strings

But how do you learn to read braille music in the first place?  How to Read Braille Music by Bettye Krolick can be helpful when beginning any type of braille music instruction, and it is widely circulated by us here in the Music Section.

All of the books and resources discussed here name just a few of the items we have available for beginning and young musicians.  We also have audio titles that are appropriate for younger students.  Please let us know if you are looking for something specific, or have any questions.

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