Oct. 11 – 15, 2021

STATUS OF WINTER CONCERTS: As I begin to try out holiday-themed repertoire for our Winter Concerts with each class, I am communicating regularly with our district’s VAPA department and MMS administration regarding the viability of the live performances we have planned for Thursday, December 9th. At present, the district policy for performances of this kind is to hold them outdoors with masking and distancing. Even in our region’s beautiful climate, December weather always has its fair share of curveballs that may make an outdoor concert problematic and logistically difficult. It may be safer and more practical to record our performances indoors during school hours and release them as a video that can be shared online. I am hoping to reach a decision by the end of October or early November.

BEG. CLASSES: Both beginning classes are moving along steadily in their respective Sound Innovations books. There are no major updates this week as we continue to progress through Sound Innovations. Students and their parents can expect daily playing assignments in SmartMusic that reinforce the day’s learning for the foreseeable future.

INT./ADV. CLASSES: I have a better understanding of the issues in SmartMusic that made last week’s assignments so frustrating. Things should (fingers crossed) be back to normal this week with that platform. We will also be trying out several potential Winter Concert pieces during classes this week. It’ll be weird playing joyous Christmas/Hanukkah music while we’re in the middle of spooky/creepy Halloween season, but what can you do? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

PLAYING MASKS: If you are a wind instrumentalist, or the parent of one, check out the post below to see if you might be interested in purchasing a more durable and permanent playing mask.

Playing Masks


Recently I’ve gotten many questions about the disposable playing masks used by wind instrumentalists and whether there are any better options for this purpose. If you or your child play a wind instrument and you or they would like to explore a more permanent solution for a playing mask that can be worn during classes, I have shared some links below to various online vendors that make playing masks. These masks are obviously much sturdier than the disposable masks wind players currently use, and I have several colleagues that strongly recommend masks such as these for better protection and increased ease of use by students. The links below are not the only playing masks available on the market, but just a list of some recommended products. Feel free to search the web for one that suits you or your child best. This is an entirely optional purchase, and free disposable playing masks will still be made available to students.

American Band Accessories (flutes should be sure to purchase the flute version)

National Educational Music Company

J.W. Pepper & Son

McCormick’s Group (Minimum order of 12 masks in case any families would like to “band” together on an order. Sorry, for the bad pun. I couldn’t help myself!)

LanaDsBees shop on Etsy

Flute masks by SkyeGraphics84 on Etsy

MagicalMarketCrafts shop on Etsy

Food for Musical Thought


If you find yourself bored and needing a good article or two to pass the time, here are a few from my good friend, Dr. Noa Kageyama, a.k.a. “The Bulletproof Musician.”

What to Ask Yourself After a Failure or Setback

8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently

“Perfect” Practice May Be Preventing You from Learning that Tricky Passage

Why Listening to Reference Recordings is an Important Part of Practicing

The Importance of Writing Notes in Your Music (one of my favorites!)

For more delightfully thought-provoking articles about music and becoming a better musician, feel free to browse Dr. Kageyama’s blog, and feel free to email me with any articles you don’t see above that you found to be applicable to middle school musicians.