38 Semester 2 Syllabus and Lesson Overview

If you utilize Canvas, the Canvas course for this class can be imported from Canvas Commons at https://lor.instructure.com/resources/f3888ab9c9a34087bf2abbe2c98e7311?shared

The second semester of Brass Techniques takes a very different approach from the first semester. While the first semester was intended to be a sampler of brass instruments, the second semester emphasizes the development of a single brass instrument as a secondary instrument. The students select one instrument to stay on throughout the semester, and they utilize it in a variety of different settings to learn about instruction in different modalities and traditions including Western chamber ensembles, jazz combos, vernacular world music, and popular music. While still developing skills on brass instruments, they are also developing familiarity with non-large ensemble pedagogies for intermediate level musicians. By the end of the semester, students are performing a single instrument with an early high school level of proficiency, allowing them to use that instrument as an example in future teaching settings.

This semester takes on constructivist learning principles, with much of the content being delivered through exploratory learning activities with students working on specific tasks in small groups. Unlike semester 1, where there was a clear agenda for each day, several days in second semester are explorations of concepts over a series of days, with the instructor moving in and out of primarily student run groups that are working toward a presentation or performance of their work.

Most of the readings that have been used for this course are not included in this text as they are resources that students have accessed through the university library. References have been provided to allow for identification of these materials for use in your classroom.


Course description:


Teaching techniques and materials of the brass instruments.  The class includes a performance lab and will meet two days per week for 50 minutes.

Further details

This is the second of two courses dedicated to the development of brass techniques.  Together, these courses focus on the performance and teaching of brass instruments in a variety of settings and levels (specifically trumpet, horn, trombone, baritone/euphonium, and tuba).  ME 292 will focus on developing intermediate competency on a single brass instrument for use within various small ensemble settings.  Additionally, students will focus on developing competency for instruction of instrumental students in various small group settings.  These technical and pedagogical skills will be built on those developed in ME 291.

Key concepts for ME 292 include:

  • Intermediate techniques for brass performance
  • Proper tone production on brass mouthpieces
  • Proper tone production on a primary brass instrument
  • Instructional strategies for intermediate musicians, particularly in small group settings
  • Pedagogical practices for various brass-centric music styles including jazz, brass-focused folk music, Western chamber music, and popular music.


All students will be expected to have the following materials and supplies:

Additional resources for study:

Boonshaft, P. & Bernotas, C. (2014). Sound Innovations. Alfred. Available in the Butler library online at https://butler.on.worldcat.org/oclc/961435341Links to an external site.

Various group method books in the Music Education locker


At the end of the class, students will be expected to have developed the following skills on a secondary instrument:


  • Perform of grade III/IV literature in various solo and small ensemble settings with proper technique and tone production.
  • Adjust intonation within 5 cents in the standard register of the instrument.
  • Use of articulation techniques with consistency and precision.


  • Plan skill-appropriate lessons for intermediate level students focused on brass technique and performance.
  • Teach intermediate students with proper scope and sequence and awareness of student engagement.

Major Course Assignments

Student lesson planning/teaching/assessment.  Students will be planning and teaching three small group lessons to middle school brass students at area schools throughout the semester.  Lesson plans will be submitted in advance for review.  Each lesson will be video recorded so that it can be submitted for a self-evaluation and peer evaluation.  These videos will be discussed in class to address effective lesson planning and execution.  All videos should be submitted to the shared class Google drive found in the header of the class Moodle page.

Chamber ensemble performances.  Throughout the semester, each student will be part of various chamber groups on their secondary brass instrument.  You will be assessed for both your own performance and the effective performance of your small ensemble.  Chamber group assignments will be changed for each rotation.

Peer teaching.  Throughout the class, you will engage in peer teaching in various small group settings.  You will be assessed on the clarity and effectiveness of your instructional delivery.

Assessment Weighting

30%     Teaching activities

30%     Chamber ensemble performances

20%     Peer teaching

20%     In class activities, Short assignments, and Professionalism

Music Education Professionalism

This course is part of your preparation as a professional in the field of music education.  When in doubt, consider how your actions reflect your professional demeanor as a teacher in your own future classroom.  This pertains to your attendance, preparation, interactions, timeliness, and more.  These are the same consideration you can have for your instructors as well.  A few key elements to consider:

Attendance:  As a professional educator, showing up late or not at all is not an option.  Participation in class activities is a critical component of this class.  You are expected to be present and prepared to participate from bell to bell.  If you are going to be tardy, absent, or leaving early from a class, notify Dr. Weidner in advance.  Your grade may be lowered by one grading increment per absence after your second absence. Excused absence does not excuse you from the material covered during the absence, and some assessments may not be able to be taken at a later time. Extended absences due to illness, disability, or other factors require documentation from Student Disability Services or the Dean.

Preparation:  As a professional educator, being prepared for the activities of the day both physically and mentally is critical to your success with your students.  In this class, being prepared includes arriving with all required materials to be able to effectively participate and with enough preparation outside of class to be effective.   This also includes taking care of the instruments assigned to you.  You will be charged for misuse of the borrowed instruments.  After you have finished a playing examination on an instrument, make sure to return it promptly so that others may check it out.  In some cases, your instrument may be used by others in university ensembles as well.

Demeanor: As a professional educator, your presence and attitude often dictates your effectiveness with your students.  Within this class, we will frequently do partner or small group teaching and learning that you to both perform for and observe others critically and compassionately.  Every skill we develop in this class may not come easily for everyone, and your demeanor in dealing with others’ strengths and weaknesses affects your abilities and theirs.

Technology usage: As a professional educator, technology will always be a part of your classroom, and you are expected to model responsible technology usage.  Provided that you use technology responsibly during class to support your learning and that of your peers, you may use technology in the classroom.  If you are not using technology responsibly (e.g. taking personal calls/texts without prior notification, browsing social media), a further discussion will be had with the instructor which may limit or eliminate your ability to use technology during class.


Course Schedule

Unit 1: Chamber Music Pedagogy

Lessons 1-3-Introduction to Chamber Music Practices

The unit on chamber music starts with an immersive experience of preparing a short work for a chamber group (in this case, a simple chorale). They are told to reflect on how their group collaborates, how the music relates to the individuals in the group, and what challenges their group experiences. The final 5 minutes of each class period are a group reflection on strategies that work particularly well.

At the close of Lesson 3, students perform for one another and provide feedback utilizing solo/ensemble sheets and verbal comments. Following the performance, we discuss what roles individuals took on as part of the chamber ensemble and likewise what needs for guidance or instruction were needed.

Learning task: Students break into quartets/quintets and are provided with one of several collections of chorales. They are then tasked with identifying a chorale and assigning parts in ways that make logical sense for the performers’ abilities within their groups as well as individual instrument voicing. With these chorales, they arrange two phrases of the chorales to be performed in lesson 3.

Reading: Spanhove, B. (2000). Chapters 1-6. The finishing touch of ensemble playing. (pp. 38-51). Alamire.

Lessons 4-8-The Instructor’s Role in Chamber Ensemble Instruction

As a class, we discuss the role of the teacher as a moderator of learning in the chamber setting who is tasked with providing students with meaningful, task oriented guidance that allows them to continue their own rehearsal without the teacher being always present. In these discussions, we include the identification of student roles for chamber groups–rehearsal leader, planner, time keeper, record keeper–as well as looking at strategies for prompting developing musicians to consider both technical and musical elements.

Each class period starts with a 5-10 minute lesson rooted in our readings or observations from the previous day. Students then break into their chamber groups. During lessons 5-7, one chamber group a day becomes the teachers for the other groups by visiting other groups rehearsals and providing guidance (as opposed to rehearsing the group). During these sessions, the instructor rotates around to observe the “teachers” and provide guidance in how to prompt critical thinking and independent musicianship.

On lesson 8, students perform for one another, providing solo/ensemble style feedback in writing and brief commentary.

Learning task: Students break into quartets/quintets (different from first rotation) and select a Grade 2-3 small ensemble piece from our library collection that is on state lists. Over the course of the five lessons, they rehearse as a chamber group and reflect on their interactions to understand the role of both student and teacher when working with developing musicians in chamber groups.


Yackley, A. (2021). Developing musicianship through chamber ensembles: A sequential unit design. Music Eduators Journal, 108(1), 34-42. https://doi.org/10.1177/00274321211027628

Berg, M. (2008). Promoting “minds-on” chamber music rehearsals. Music Educators Journal, 95(2), 48-55. https://doi.org/10.1177/0027432108325870


Performance of chamber ensembles. Each student records themselves during the group performance by placing a recording device on their stand. A classroom recording is also made.

Self-evaluation of chamber ensemble performance. Students evaluate their own performance utilizing language they would use if providing feedback to a student in second person.

Peer teaching. Students are observed and then reflect on their roles as teachers within the chamber setting, reflecting on the role of the teacher to develop student critical thinking and listening and student agency.

Unit 2: Vernacular Music Pedagogy

This unit focuses on the use of brass instruments in non-Western art traditions, coupled with the differences in music learning that are part of different cultural traditions. European brass instruments can be found in the music of many cultures around the world, as these instruments traveled with European colonizers. With this said, this music has become endemic in many places and the approaches and techniques used in performing Western brass instruments (as opposed to non-Western brass instruments such as the conch or didjeridoo) differ from the way they might be utilized in Western art practices.

Throughout this unit, we discuss and utilize Patricia Sheehan Campbell’s Five Phases for Teaching Music Globally (see reference to chapter below) to discuss how non-native musicians can explore music outside of their own practice.

This starts with Attentive Listening, where we together do multiple listenings through a piece of music to understand its characteristics, its structure, and connections to familiar elements. This progresses to Engaged Listening where students work to imitate and understand familiar elements of the music they are hearing, not with the intention of performing it but actively engaging with the recording. We next move to Enactive Listening where we transition from listening and experimenting with unfamiliar music to working to perform utilizing the conventions of that style.

This is done in two phases. The first phase utilizes Mariachi music and is modeled and guided by the teacher. The second phase has the students become class experts on an unfamiliar style utilizing Campbell’s model to later share with the rest of the class.

Lessons 1-3 Teacher Guided Exploration of Mariachi Music

For this portion of the unit, we use a video recording of Mariachi Vargas performing La Negra. We begin by watching a video recording multiple times, paying attention to what is familiar and what is different from practices we have previously used. Students gradually identify differences in timbre, in articulation, in posture, and in music composition from what they have worked on in Western art traditions.

The next stage of Engaged Listening is to work to imitate some conventions of the music. The instructor guides the students in exploring the bright, wide vibrato that is used, as well as the highly articulate separation of individual notes. This eventually translates into Enactive Listening as students learn individual musical parts and eventually perform the main melody as a two part duet with melody and accompaniment utilizing the style and performance conventions observed in the recording.

Learning Task: Using stages 1-3 of Campbell’s Phases for Teaching Globally, students will investigate La Negra with the instructor, leading to a performance of the melody and primary accompaniment with attention paid to the tonal features of mariachi music.


Abril, C. R. (2006). Music that represents culture: Selecting music with integrity. Music Educators Journal, 93(1), 38-45. https://doi.org/10.1177/002743210609300122

Campbell, P. S. (2016). World music pedagogy: Where music meets culture in classroom practice. In C. Abril & B. Gault (Eds.) Teaching general music. Oxford UP.

Sanchez, N. Carrillo, S., & Gradante, W. (2008). Teaching trumpet technique to mariachi students. In W. Gradante (Ed.) Foundations of mariachi education. Rowman & Littlefield.

Lesson 4-7 Student Guided Explorations of a Vernacular Tradition

Students will break into one of three groups to investigate a modern tradition utilizing brass instruments in a vernacular setting. These include the following:

Mexican banda-Banda Sinaloense MS-Es Tuyo Mi Amor
Romani čoček bands-Tara de Haïdouks-A la Turk
Indian Brass Band-Jaipur Kawa Brass Band-Man Chali

In these groups, students will engage in this same sequence of Attentive followed by Engaged followed by Enactive Listening. This includes additional research about these practices to understand their origins. They then prepare a short 15 minute lesson for the rest of the class that guides them through the Attentive and Engaged Listening activities built around their musical tradition.

Learning task:

Students will work as small groups through the first 3 phases of Campbell’s Phases for Teaching Globally, leading to a performance for the class and short lesson for the rest of the class that addresses a unique feature of a vernacular practice from an unfamiliar culture.


Performance in vernacular ensembles. Each student records themselves during the group performance by placing a recording device on their stand. A classroom recording is also made.

Self-evaluation of vernacular ensemble performance. Students evaluate their own performance utilizing language they would use if providing feedback to a student in second person.

Peer teaching. Students are observed and then reflect on their roles as teachers within the vernacular setting, reflecting on the role of the teacher to encourage engaged and attentive listening activities.

Unit 3-Jazz Pedagogy

This unit serves as an introduction to teaching jazz to beginning jazz musicians. Core concepts include attention to listening and transcribing, especially as it pertains to developing style awareness, as well as understanding the various roles present within a traditional jazz ensemble. The goal is that students without a significant jazz background could lead a beginning jazz ensemble with confidence.

Lessons 1-2

With the instructor, students will listen, describe, and transcribe the head of Moanin’ as performed by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. This tune works particularly well as it is melodically built entirely around the blues scale and utilizes four motivic variations on its opening riff with a clear, repetitive harmonically derived accompaniment. Over the course of these two lessons, students should pay particular attention to stylistic characteristics. Hear it, sing it, play it is a mantra throughout this instruction as students learn the stylistic characteristics of this standard.

Learning task: Students will learn how to play both the melody and accompaniment of Moanin’ and play it within small groups with stylistic fidelity.


Carter, R. (2008). A multicultural approach to jazz education. In R. Carter et al (Eds.) Teaching music through performance in jazz (Vol 1, pp. 13-26). GIA.

Lessons 3-6

Each class period is split into two activities. Half is teacher led and focuses on the various roles of the rhythm section, with emphasis placed on bass and piano. Using a lead sheet for I’ve Got Rhythm, students will learn how to build a bass line and accompaniment figures from a chord progression and melody on their brass instruments. They will also use I’ve Got Rhythm as the foundation for applying improvisation techniques from first semester to a jazz setting, including melodic variation, motive building, and conversational improvisation.

The other half of the class will be spent in small group combos. Students will be responsible for selecting a jazz standard and a notable recording of that standard to transcribe (possibly also using lead sheets). While the goal is not to create a pure transcription, they should adhere to the style and character of their targeted recording and include a melody, bass line, and potentially other accompaniment layers by applying the skills presented in the teacher directed sections of the lesson. While students can choose any tune, the following have been effective tunes for students who are new to jazz studies to work on in the past:

  • All Blues-Miles Davis
  • Autumn Leaves-Nat King Cole
  • Blue Bossa-Kenny Dorham
  • Desafinado-Stand Getz
  • Freddie Freeloader-Miles Davis
  • Corner Pocket-Count Basie
  • Limehouse Blues-Cannonball Adderley
  • St. Thomas-Sonny Rollins
  • Take the A Train-Duke Ellington

Learning task:

Students will transcribe and perform a version of a jazz standard based upon a notable recording of their choice, paying attention to imitation of style. They should also have a brief chorus section over which to take short, improvisational solos, finishing with a return to the head.


Azzara, C. D. (2015). Improvisation and composition. In L. Burton & A. H. Snell (Eds.) Engaging music practices: A handbook for instrumental music (pp. 181-198), Rowman & Littlefield.


Performance of jazz combo. Each student records themselves during the group performance by placing a recording device on their stand. A classroom recording is also made.

Self-evaluation of jazz combo. Students evaluate their own performance utilizing language they would use if providing feedback to a student in second person.

Peer teaching. Students are observed and then reflect on their roles as collaborators within the combo setting, reflecting on their role as both leader and ensemble member in interpreting and performing their jazz standard.

Unit 4-Informal Music Pedagogy

This final unit builds upon the informal music pedagogy presented by Lucy Green in her book, Music, Informal Learning, and the School. For the students in brass techniques, this takes on a different approach as it emphasizes student agency and creativity to make music on their own terms, rather than following a prescribed method or approach. Students are encouraged to choose music that they prefer and utilize their brass instruments to create music that is meaningful to them which may or may not be inspired by others’ performances or music.

When students are exploring informal music pedagogy, they need to be encouraged to use all of their musical resources. A key feature in this approach is that as a teacher, the instructor emphasizes the lack of a “right” way to create this cover and emphasizes their role as a resource. The instructor frequently needs to prod students to use all of their available skills, as they feel it is cheating to use a piano, search the internet, or rely on others to create their cover.

Importantly, this music is being prepared for a purpose, ideally generated by the student. Setting up an impromptu performance in the student lobby or for another techniques class has worked well for providing the motivation to create a piece of music that is meaningful for the students involved.

Lessons 1-3

This unit begins with a class activity to quickly create a cover of a pop tune (Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up and Toto’s Africa work well as a class activity as they are typically familiar and have quick, sarcastic buy in). The teacher’s role is to encourage but not lead, and allow students to make mistakes and create their own means to a performative end.


Green, L. (2008). Chapter 2. Music, informal learning, and the school: A new classroom pedagogy. Ashgate.

Lesson 4-7

Students should be encouraged to create groups that they want to work with who want to work on a similar piece of music. A key feature is that students may drift between groups as they search for who and what they want to work upon. They should be encouraged to be flexible in their music making and not beholden to a specific product or process from the start. Again, the end goal is that the students have a clearly delineated time and place for a performance at the end of this to give this creative activity meaning.

At the same time as they are creating their group pieces, the instructor should be introducing approaches for sampling, recording, and tracking music. In addition to creating a group performance, each student will create a version of the piece with themselves utilizing commonly available recording softer such as Audacity, Soundtrap, GarageBand, or Acappella that are free or readily available.


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Brass Techniques and Pedagogy by Brian N. Weidner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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