The market is full of band methods and to choose one as the most effective would be a daunting chore and for that reason I will only say that Essential Elements For Band, published by Hal Leonard would be at the top of my list.
What measurements are required to single out just one method as the most effective?
Let me list a few which I have found helpful.
1. Is the book attractive?
When dealing with beginning students, the book’s appearance is very important. Methods which have been around for more than five years tend to be out of date when everything today is geared to the young players.
2. Will it withstand being rolled up and placed in a trumpet case?
The amount of abuse a method book has to withstand is another factor when investing in a book.
3. What essential information is included in the book to make the students’ progress easier?
Many times additional information above and beyond the fingerings and counting exercises are helpful.
4. Are the basic instructions complete and easy to find?
Due to the fact that a beginning player knows very little if anything about the instrument, it is vitally important to have instructions easy to find and easy to read and understand.
5. Does the method book include a diagram of the parts of the trumpet?
The common terms used to identify each and every section of the trumpet is absolutely necessary in order to be sure there are no misunderstandings. Sense this is a method book written for beginners, nothing can be overlooked, even when using terms such as staff, names of notes and counting. Many students may have had knowledge of these elements in school but to overlook any important term could cause problems later. Instructions on how to assemble the instrument as well as getting the first sound on the mouthpiece is important.
6. Are the musical notes easy to see and read?
The most up-to-date literature presented to us today has a tendency to have more empty space around the information than material printed many years ago.
7. Are the pages broken up with different colors?
Younger students today are used to flashes of color and bold text emphasis. Bright colors will draw the eye to the most important information and also makes memorizing terms much easier.
8. Is the material presented in a logical order?
When students are learning this material for the first time, it is important to offer new information in a simple and logical order for them to build their knowledge slowly and steadily.
9. Are the titles for each exercise appealing to the reader?
Catchy and up-to-date titles will keep a student’s interest whereas the old school approach of just numbering exercises is less effective.
10. As a complete series for use in a full band setting, does it encourage interaction with the other members of the ensemble?
A good method book will help directors when trying to keep all of the cows in the pen.
11. Does the difficulty of the material challenge the player without discouraging the student?
Slow and gradual challenges will keep all of the student’s interest where as a more accelerated amount of material will help only the more gifted students.
12. Are solos included for the student to possible perform?
The better methods include piano accompaniments for live performances.
13. Does the method include additional exercises to improve the student’s development?
Learning how to count notes and push down the correct fingering is only part of a student’s development.
14. Does the method book include a complete fingering chart?
An easy to read and understand fingering chart is vitally important in a beginner’s book.
15. Does the method book have available additional information for the student?
With the amount of technology available to students on the internet and instructional DVDs, additional information is expected to be available from the publisher.
When rating this method “Essential Elements For Band” I would rate it very high in all of the categories I have listed above. One feature worth mentioning would be the additional recorded material available to the student at no additional charge. Included in the purchase price is an extremely valuable recording of the material as practice tracks. The student can acquire these helpful tracks either as music files downloaded or streamed from the Internet by simply visiting their site at www.myeelibrary.com and enter the Student Activation Code found in the inside of the front cover of their book. If the student prefers his/her own CD Rom for practice purposes, simply fill out the card within the book and send it in. Your CD Rom may also be requested on line.
The practice tracks available for this method book are exceptionally well done and will be very helpful in the student’s development.
With all things considered, I would whole heartedly recommend this method for band use or for any individual looking for a simple yet effective beginner’s manual.