Tips to Beginning Reading Success

December 7th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

Children are ready to read at different ages. All children will have to master alphabet letters and sounds prior to learning how to read. When your child is ready make every beginning reading opportunity as successful and motivational as possible.

The beginning reader gaining momentum

The beginning reading process will have its share of bumps along the way. As children master sight words and gain confidence in predictable sentence structures they should be more willing to sound out words. It takes a combination of phonics and high frequency word recognitions to move out of what is termed pre-emergent reading levels.

Why is it important to make learning to sound out words fun?

Motivational strategies to sound out words, as your child is demonstrating phonetic awareness (understanding that words are comprised of a sequence of sounds), will help your child move past pre-reading skills. Struggling through the sound/ letters make together to form words (phonemes) can be both frustrating and beyond puzzling for even the motivated new reader. I have found that creating memorable connections to letter combinations to be a powerful starting point for a child to put together the pieces of how letters combine to make sounds!

How do I start helping my child sound out words?

Most children master beginning consonant/vowel patterns first (the first letter and vowel in each word ie. ca in cat).

1. Start by demonstrating the appropriate sound to make for each letter in a consonant/vowel/ consonant pattern (c-v-c). An example might be the sound /m-e-t/ makes in the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern words such as (met, let, bet, get).

2. Ask your child, “What do each 2 letters have in common?” (m-e for met, l-e for let, and g-e for get).

3. Allow wait time for your child to figure out that the e makes the short /eh/ sound. Have them practice this short /eh/ sound.

The fun part!

I have found that having a child say the sound of the short e /eh/ with a physical action that they design, such as singing the short vowel sound each and every time they start to read a consonant/vowel/consonant word pattern, allows them to mentally and physically remember the necessary short sound the e will make.

How do you teach your child to automatically use the c/v/c pattern to decode words?

1. Model the action/c-v-c or connection with enthusiasm.

2. Have your child practice the letter pattern with the action.

3. Have them apply the pattern and action to new words with that same pattern.

4. Every time you and your child see that pattern in Stepping Stones Together books and beyond model the pattern and/or ask your child to show you the action!

5. You’ll be surprised at how often they will remember! It makes this new challenging process a fun learning experience!

Cornet Playing – Producing a Quality Sound

December 4th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

In my opinion the most important of all your playing objectives should be to be able to play with a quality sound. You can play as fast as you like and be technically brilliant, but if you don’t have a good sound it will be your Achilles heel, people will lose interest in your performance. Good tonal qualities are achieved by practicing long notes and listening to yourself. The embouchure should be match fit and careful control of air and vibrato is paramount.

The objective is to vibrate the lips at a suitable speed to get a good quality sound. The sound begins its life using the tongue behind the top teeth by saying one of the following syllables “Da, Day, Dee, Du, – Ta, Tay, Tee, Tu, dependent upon the amount of accent that you wish the note to start with. The tongue then having done most of its work, not all but most, then drops lower in the mouth and at the same time the diaphragm (stomach) pushes air towards the lips at a constant rate to vibrate them at the desired pitch. The more air pressure from the diaphragm plus the tongue will give you the desired accent, pitch and volume of the sound. Vibrating the lips at 440 times a second (hertz) would produce a concert pitch “a”. The sound that you should now produce should have a full sound with no wasted air producing a hiss to accompany it. If a hiss is present then either the embouchure needs to be adjusted or the air pressure from the stomach needs to be controlled better. It is up to the performer to really listen to his or her sound and scrutinise it for the above impurities.

In all the above, the tongue position is critical. If the tongue is too low in the mouth then the note will try to drop in pitch to the next one playable, with the valve combination you are using. If the tongue is too high in the mouth then the note can become thin and strident in colour, and not particularly good to listen too. Therefore the tongue position should be as low as possible in the mouth for the given pitch, supported by a constant stream of air from the stomach. Once a good pure tone is achieved, adding vibrato will carry the sound and make it more mellow which is good for slow lyrical work. However for orchestral work this vibrato should be used sparingly.

Meditation – A Beginning Meditation Using The Sounds Around You

December 1st, 2015 by hesty No comments »

Let’s begin with a simple but very powerful meditation. The first meditation will help you relax by using the sounds around you.

To Begin

Choose a quiet and safe place where you will feel comfortable. If necessary close the door and let others in your house or apartment know that you need a short bit of quiet time.

It is best to be sitting up when you do this meditation so sit in a comfortable position in a chair or sofa.

If you wish to use some music in the background choose some that is soft and that does not have any melody. You can also use some soft nature sounds like ocean waves if you wish.

Now close your eyes and take a deep breath and then release the breath as if you were blowing out a candle. Do this again 6 times. Pay close attention to your breathing. The inhalation and the exhalation.

This Moment


Now pay close attention to the sounds around you. Judge nothing. No sound is good or bad, they are just sounds. Name them. Begin with the loudest ones and work your way down to those sounds that are just on the edge of silence. Listen closely. Do not let any of the sounds distract you. Just listen. Do not let any of the sounds affect you. Just listen.

You can end the meditation here or you can continue to the next exercise. If you choose to end the meditation here then take 6 deep breaths like you did at the beginning of this meditation and then open your eyes. Now take a few moments to re-adjust to your surroundings and proceed with your day.

In the next article I will share with you a meditation for dealing with thoughts.

More meditations can be found at Jon’s blog.