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Warm Ups for Ensemble Development in Middle School Band

Cape Elizabeth Middle School 8th Grade Band

Caitlin Ramsey, clinician

Some of the concepts that I focus on when working on ensemble skills during warm ups:

Balance/Blend Pulse/Rhythm Technique
Air Intonation Attacks/Releases
Tone Flexibility Phrasing

Introducing Balance
§ McBeth Sound Pyramid
§ Inverted pyramid to demonstrate incorrect balance
§ Listening down to the lowest voice in your family

Easy Analogies for Teaching Blend

§ Three-Person Rule/Trios
§ Fit your sound inside the __________ sound

Lisk’s Three Logical Steps to Effective Balance and Blend

If you hear yourself above all others, 1 of 3 things is happening:

1. You are overpowering or overblowing! Make the necessary adjustments.

If you still hear yourself and you made the adjustment in #1:

2. You are playing with poor tone quality! Make the necessary adjustments (embouchure,
breath support, posture, reed, etc.).

If you still hear yourself and you made the adjustments in #1 and #2, then:

3. You are playing out of tune! Make the necessary adjusting by extending or shortening
the length of your instrument.

Caitlin Ramsey, the director of bands at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, holds undergraduate degrees in horn performance and music education
from Miami University as well as a Masters of Music from Kent State University. Additionally, as a Maine Arts Teaching Fellow, Ms. Ramsey
studied conducting at the New England Conservatory of Music in the summer of 2009. For the past fifteen years, she has been an active
adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor throughout the state of Maine. Outside of school, Caitlin performs with the Bayside Brass and Dirigo
Winds. She lives in Portland with her husband Tim, the band director at Gorham High School.
Recommended Warm Ups

Breathing Exercises
Air & Pulse/Rhythm
Resource: Sam Pilafian/Patrick Sheridan’s Breathing Gym

Air, Tone, Intonation, Flexibility
Resource: Foundations for Superior Performance: Page 4, Long Tone 1: 1a

Cichowicz Air Flow Studies

Air, Tone, Intonation, Flexibility

Warm Up Sets
Flexibility, Technique, Pulse/Rhythm
Resource: Foundations for Superior Performance: Page 6, Warm Up Set 1
Setting Rehearsal Priorities packet: Pages 11-12

Pass the Tonic

Balance/Blend & Attacks/Releases
Resource: Sound Innovations Ensemble Development Intermediate: Page 14, #91, 92, 93

Rhythm Training
Resource: Winds Basic Training for Concert Band

Resource: Beth Bronk:

Balance/Blend, Intonation, Phrasing
Resource: Bach and Before for Band

Additional materials can be found at

About the CEMS band program

Approximately 60% of Cape students (about 330 students) participate in band at the middle school level. Our middle school program includes
fifth grade beginning band, sixth grade band, seventh grade band, and eighth grade band. Additionally, seventh and eighth grade students have
the opportunity to participate in our two extracurricular jazz bands. In recent years, we have been fortunate to have the opportunity to take part
in consortium commissions with composers Andrew Boysen Jr, Randall Standridge, and Frank Ticheli. Additionally, the Cape Elizabeth School
Department is proud to be designated as one of the NAAM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education for the past three years.

Thank You!
Neil A. Kjos Music * Alfred Music * Bravo Music * CEMS Parent Chaperones * Cape Elizabeth Music Boosters
* Cape Elizabeth Middle School Parents Association * Troy Eastman, CEMS principal * Chris White