Junior High Band
Teaching Tips

Use Note Spellers

The best way I found to teach fingerings and note names was by using the Belwin Note Spellers. They are workbooks where the student colors in the fingering of the given note, draws the note on the staff or names the note. There are similar workbooks available, but I never found one I liked as well.

During the summer we would finish about the first seven lessons. Once school started we would do two lessons a week and finish the book by mid-year. They were due on the playing-test day. The students were allowed to work on them during the playing test.

It took a lot of time to correct the worksheets. One year, because the note names and fingerings were covered in the method book, I decided not to use the Note Spellers. We all suffered the consequences for the next three years. That group of students struggled because they lacked the basic foundation of note names and fingerings. I realized the students needed the repetition of doing those worksheets.

Video Disclaimer

The attached videos are not perfect examples of how each tune should be played. They are recordings of junior high students, some of whom have had their instruments for only a few months. Also, they are not professional recordings. They were taken by band parents using home equipment and naturally focusing on their own children.

I include them for two reasons: (1) To give you an idea of what the arrangements are like, and (2) To illustrate the kind of performance you can expect from your junior high students.