These courses are free because I believe there is a better way than the way I was taught and a better way than the way I was taught to teach. It is more important to me to offer another way to think about things than the few dollars I would earn might be.

For example, beginning band students are given and expected to rely upon method books far too early. By the fourth page of most popular method books students are expected to play a tune on an instrument they are still learning to hold, while reading standard notation including notes and rests on a staff with a clef, accidentals, a time signature and a repeat sign. This is absolutely irresponsible. Expecting students of any age to absorb, understand and put into practice the near totality of our notation system based on less information than it takes to fill one page is not only unreasonable, but unwise. And unnecessary.

Recorder lesson books tenaciously stay in the key of C even though C4 and F4 are much more difficult for young fingers to master than F#4 and C#5. Although it is utterly logical to write the little tunes in the key of G and later D, authors diligently keep them in the key of C. Is it more important to avoid notating a sharp on the staff, or to direct your students to play a note they'll have a better chance of playing well?

We must remember that learning to play an instrument and learning to read music are two different things. Very different. Yes, they go together, but they don't need each other, as the countless blind musicians that could not read but that could surely play, attest.

We must help our students get comfortable with their horn - to 'make friends with it' - before we ask them to worry about lines and spaces! Let's put watching the conductor above staring at paper. Let's encourage our students to play simple tunes beautifully first.

Making music is about expression, and motion, and watching the conductor. Let's start there. I believe it is a better way.

-Steve Kloser

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