Practicing tips
Suggested process for learning a new song:

  1. Look over the entire line.  Check for key signature, time signature, accidentals, any notes you don't know, and any articulations or dynamics.
  2. COUNT the line out loud.
  3. SAY the note names out loud while fingering.
  4. COUNT while fingering the part.
  5. "Hiss" the rhythm while fingering the part.
  6. PLAY the portion of music.


  1. Look through the section you're trying to learn.  Identify key signature, time signature, rhythms. 
  2. SPEAK through the line, paying careful attention to the syllables.
  3. COUNT through the rhythm if you can.
  4. SPEAK with the accompaniment.
  5. SING with the accompaniment.

Help! I have "nothing to practice".  

  1. Are you playing ALL of your music perfectly?  If not, there's usually room for improvement--go beyond the notes & rhythms to articulations, tone, phrasing, etc... 
  2. Go back to the fundamentals.  Long Tones, Scale Patterns, Range Exercises.  Professionals practice these EVERY DAY.
  3. Look ahead in your band book for other tunes to play, especially the solos and "For [your instrument] only lines, which we will usually not spend much class time on.
  4. Think of a song you'd like to learn and find the sheet music.  95% of the time, searching "[Song Title] sheet music" will yield results.
  5. Find a solo book, "fake book", book with movie themes, etc...for your instrument.  Local music stores usually carry a wide selection, as does Amazon and other internet sources.
  6. Ask Mr. Norris for suggestions.  This may include 7th or 8th graders learning some of the High School pep music, outside groups, honor group auditions, etc...

I can't practice my instrument because... Many students struggle to find opportunities to practice at home. Here are some tips that may help:

  1. If you play a large instrument that's difficult to get home every day, take advantage of the weekends.  Taking it home once on Friday can yield 3 practice sessions (Friday/Saturday/Sunday).  
  2. If you have after-school activities/sports, most coaches will have a safe place you can keep the instrument during practice.  
  3. If you live in an apartment or other place where the joyful noise of an instrument is an issue, the band room is open almost every morning by 7:30am for practice time, and often at lunch as well.  
  4. Other ways to practice without an instrument in your hands (any of these count as practice time on your practice log):
    • Sing through your songs while fingering along (saying note names).
    • Count rhythms of your songs while fingering along.
    • Note name flashcards.
    • Listen to recordings of your band music while fingering along.

Videos for beginners & experienced students:

US Army Field Band Educational Clinics (Instrument Demonstrations)
US Army Field Band "Pro Tips" (Advanced Skills)

Other Practicing Tips & Suggestions:

10 Easy Ways to Optimize your Music Practice (NPR Link)
Counting Out Loud (For piano, but applies to all instruments)‚Äč