The Teaching of Instrumental Music

By Gillis, Glen | The Canadian Music Educator, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

The Teaching of Instrumental Music


Gillis, Glen, The Canadian Music Educator


The Teaching of Instrumental Music by Richard J. Colwell & Michael P. Hewitt. Fourth Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Hall 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0-205-66017-9

The Teaching of Instrumental Music (2011) by Richard Colwell and Michael Hewitt is an outgrowth from the 2002, 1992, and 1969 editions. This 450-page, 29-chapter soft cover text is a valuable resource with up-to-date information. Clearly organized, it provides insight into the establishment of curricular goals for aspiring, novice, and veteran instrumental music teachers. The text encompasses various issues and particulars of the commonly used instruments found within the woodwind, brass, percussion, and string families. Its great features include the scope, sequence, and myriad of details as well as easy-to-find information presented in accessible language. It is a sincere and legitimate attempt to provide the music educator with a comprehensive resource for an instrumental program, and in the reviewer's opinion, it is successful in achieving this purpose.

Similar to a large compendium, it is a compilation of practical and applicable information pertaining to each instrument. The text well-acquaints the foregoing specialists with pertinent teaching and administrative tips. It provides interesting information moving beyond the basics into a broader understanding of the administrative aspects of a program, scheduling, typical needs of the program, the psychology of learning, and historical overviews of each instrument. There are ample photographs and illustrations demonstrating, among others, fingering charts, embouchure formations, posture/ergonomics, playing positions, instrumental troubleshooting checklists, instrument details, and musical examples.

The first nine chapters cover a broad spectrum but focus on competencies and essential issues for a successful instrumental program. The titles include: Teaching and the Role of Motivation, Objectives, Assessment, Administration, Recruiting, Scheduling, Technology, Special Populations and Instrumental Music, and The Physiology of Instrumental Music Performance. Each of these chapters concludes with discussion questions and web sites of related material.

Next there are fourteen individual chapters devoted to each of the common instruments found in a school band and orchestra. One of these chapters however, amalgamates the trombone with the euphonium and baritone, and another accommodates all facets of percussion. Closely connected with each of the instruments are three chapters of related performance issues that include: Principles of Winds and Acoustics of Strings, Principles of Brass, and Principles of Strings. …

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