Review: The Teaching of Instrumental Music Second Edition, by Richard J. Colwell, and Thomas Goolsby.


1. Colwell, R.J., Goolsby, T. (1992). The Teaching of Instrumental Music (2nd Edition)

2. In The Teaching of Instrumental Music (1992), Richard J. Colwell, and Thomas Goolsby provide knowledge of how to teach instrumental music; from the history of the subject, to the logistics of running a music program, and information about every band instrument.

3. Here is a list of things I found in the book that I thought would be of good use. These are not direct quotes but I have included the page number that I found them on:

  • p. 17 Teaching music as an art can be accomplished by helping students recognized the following; balance, contrast, tension, relaxation, form, texture, color, mood, and then teaching how these things are related.
  • p. 19 Use skill oriented objectives such as; mental skills, aural skills, physical dexterity on the instrument, and musical understanding.
  • p. 21 A music program is continuous, k-12.
  • p. 27 Evaluative tools; Measures of musical aptitude, measures of musical achievement, audio and video recorders, self judging/ peer review, computers, contests, private lessons, interviews with students, student logs, critical-incidents tests, attitude scales, preference scales, practice cards, sectionals, student demonstrations, point systems, check lists, and teacher-constructed tests.
  • p. 35 Evaluating music as an activity includes; participation, attitude, and habits.
  • p. 42 Motivation is priority to keep students interested.
  • p. 56 Organization is key to a good music program and effective administration.
  • p. 63 As the director, be cautious about accepting any money.
  • p. 71 Include parents in activities by creating a band boosters organization.
  • p. 77 Make the instrumental music program visible in public and at local elementary and middle schools.
  • p. 93 4-5 minutes of technical drill and sight reading should be included every day in rehearsal.
  • p. 96 End rehearsal on a positive note with previously learned material.
  • p. 101 At least one auditorium rehearsal should be had for every concert.
  • p. 125 Save drill with individual sections for scheduled sectional rehearsals.
  • p. 131 “Proper breathing” only happens when “proper posture” is attained.
  • p. 161 Begin flute players on the head joint alone to concentrate on correct embouchure and sound production.
  • p. 188 Do not start a beginner on oboe or bassoon, due to the disconnect of how difficult beginning band books are for these instruments.
  • p. 264 Good tonguing on clarinet is developed by slowly learning to coordinate fingers and tongue.
  • p. 291 Saxophone is one of the easiest instruments to produce sound on, yet the most difficult to produce a good sound on.
  • p. 340 The best mouthpiece for brass beginners is a medium-sized cup with a standard rim.
  • p. 359 one of the most important variables in good horn sound is the air stream.
  • p. 383 Students who have trouble producing a tone should buzz using the mouthpiece only.
  • p. 413 The trombone slide speed should always move at the same rapid speed regardless of the speed of the passage.
  • p. 458 The biggest element in tone on tuba is having plenty of air, and support for the air as well as a relaxed throat and jaw.
  • p. 472 percussion ensembles are an important part of motivating the young percussionist.

4. The Teaching of Instrumental Music (1992) has brought me extensive knowledge of the history of how instrumental music came to be in schools. The following quotation from the 1927 Dallas meeting of the Department of Superintendence brought about many new music programs:

“The audience was highly impressed by the orchestra’s performance and passed this resolution: “We would record our full appreciation of the fine musical programs and art exhibits in connection with this convention. They are good evidence that we are rightly coming to regard music, art and other similar subjects as fundamental in the education of American children. We recommend that they be given everywhere equal consideration and support with other basic subjects.” This resolution resulted in the initiation of hundreds of instrumental programs in schools across the country.” (p. 9-10)

This book also provides great advice on evaluative tools that can be used by directors.

“Evaluation is dependent on objectives and, similarly, objectives cannot function without evaluation.” (p. 31)

I will use these suggestions to my advantage in the classroom to ensure that every student is evaluated fairly and effectively. Not only is fair evaluation important but almost just as important is the motivation of students both intrinsically and extrinsically. This is crucial to any successful program.

“Whether the characteristic of fun is intrinsic or extrinsic, the study of music must be fun. The fun of being in band or orchestra may be the student’s goal– and the student determines whether the fun and enjoyment of performance justifies the extensive study and practice.” (p. 43)

The number-one thing in good administration of a band program is parent and student involvement. With the help of parents and students, keeping your administrators happy will be that much easier for you.

“Parents’ organizations can handle a variety of tasks such as helping with concerts, trips, fund raising when necessary, and chaperoning. All of the effort put into administration will be enhanced by the practice of consistently keeping the principal informed.” (p. 58)

An effective director/leader has knowledge of all instruments in his or her band program. This book provides in-depth information over each instrument and is a great reference guide to have on any bookshelf.


Ms. Curlin’s Kindergarten Music Class

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Dr. Barber and I had a great time introducing a couple of new instruments to Ms. Curlin’s Kindergarten music class. The students all seemed to enjoy hearing the instruments being played. The class had been learning about the sounds that different instruments make through the story, Peter and the Wolf. Since I play the clarinet, they all made the connection that it is the instrument that plays the part of the cat in the story.  As I played a few notes all of them stared in awe of the sound. Dr. Barber and I then taught the class The Hello Song. I played the notes on the clarinet while they sang along with Dr. Barber. After that she began talking about the guitar and proceeded to amaze them with the sounds that it produces. We sang the song Momma Don’t Allow (‘low) and let them improvise their own parts as we went along. We ended class by letting the class teach us their favorite songs to sing. It was an all-around great experience, and I would love to go back and see them again.


Little Owl’s Night


Little Owl’s Night Activities

Singing: 5 Little Owls song
5 little owls on a moonlit night
5 little owls are quite a sight.

5 little owls – are you keeping score?
One flew away! Then there were 4.

4 little owls, happy as can be
One flew away! Then there were 3

3 little owls calling “Whoo Whoo!”
One flew away! That left 2.

2 little owls having lots of fun
One flew away! That left 1.

1 little owl – we are almost done.
He flew away! That leaves none.
Listening: The students color an owl picture while they listen to an mp3 with different animal sounds on it, and identify each sound as they hear it.

Instruments: Match instruments to animal sounds.

Create: Making odd shaped owls in class with construction paper and glue and making a story to go with your owl.

Rhythm: Make the different animal sounds from the book into recognizable rhythms.
Movement: while reading the book, the students are standing in a circle and every time another animal is named from the book the students make that animal sound and make motions like tha

Rhythm with Orff

The activity I have planned uses the concept of sound before sight because the students will be learning 4 rhythms by rote on non-pitched percussion. It is simple, yet effective because it also teaches what a cannon/round is.Orff activity

Carl Orff and His Technique

Carl Orff img

Carl Orff was a German composer, born in Munich, Germany in 1895 and died in 1982. He was well known for his operas and dramatic works, but is also known around the world for his innovations in music education. He studied at the Munich Academy of Music with German composer Heinrich Kaminski. Orff’s Schulwerk,  was first published in 1930, which is a manual describing his method of conducting. Orff’s system of music education for children is largely based on developing rhythm through group activities and performance with percussion instruments. This technique has been widely adopted around the world. In 1924 he founded the Gunther School for gymnastics, dance and music with Dorothee Gunther.

This video uses the method that Carl Orff invented to teach different rhythms as well as form by having an A section, B section and a bass line.

Hello (cover)

I could watch this video over and over again and never get tired of it. This cover of Adele’s hit song “Hello” gave the original a run for its money in my opinion. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Teaching with Dalcroze

Emile Dalcroze was born on July 6th, 1865 in Vienna, Austria. In 1892 he became the professor of harmony at the Geneva Conservatory. This is when he began to develop his method of teaching rhythm through movement (eurhythmics). He founded a school in Hallerau, Germany in 1910 and another in Geneva in 1914, where the students learned using his method. Many concepts can be learned and expanded through eurhythmics, including; imagination, creative expression, coordination, flexibility, concentration, inner hearing, music appreciation, and the understanding of musical concepts. The philosophy behind eurhythmics centers on the concept that the synthesis of the mind, body, and resulting emotion is fundamental to all meaningful learning. This approach focuses on active learning which implies less instruction and more experience for the students. This is considered student-centered learning. Improvisation frees a child to relate directly and spontaneously to music within a range of musical knowledge. The video I have included shows a teacher with elementary students using eurhythmics to teach rhythm, dynamics, and hand-eye coordination.


I chose “Cheerleader” (Remix) by OMI for an Orff instrument lesson because it has a simple chord progression that is easy to teach, and fun for kids to learn and sing along to. This song is up-beat and popular, so most students should know it well. The simplicity of the chord progression also allows for a lot of individuality, and improvisation. Enjoy!

Cheerleader 1Cheerleader 2


Orff Instruments in Elementary

I chose this video because even though the quality of recording is low, the sound is still great. The students have obviously put a lot of time and effort into putting on this concert. They are consistently together and on beat, as well as very mature about the performance. I believe that having ensembles like this in elementary can act as a bridge to trying out other musical endeavors when they get to middle and high school. Being in something amazing like this at a young age can give children the self-esteem they need, and help them know that they are good enough for a high school band or choir. This kind of ensemble can channel a student’s creative side and make them more likely to do well in school and life by teaching them that a little bit of hard work can go a very long way.


Elementary Music Childhood Song

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Sing song while pointing to each body part.

pic 1

“Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes.

Eyes and ears and mouth and nose.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes.”