Focus Sheets 1-3 for Beginning Brass Players
by Brian Kay
The Focus Sheets are one-page supplements to any beginning band method. They help focus your students’ attention on the most strategic skills first-year instrumentalists can build. I developed these sheets when doing in-school group beginner classes, and have continued to use them in my private lesson teaching.
If your beginning brass students master these three pages of material, they will be in command of near 100% of the motor skills needed to thrive as a first-year player, and a high percentage of the music reading skills as well.
Download the Focus Sheets (.pdf format)
The Focus Sheets for trombone, trumpet, euphonium, and tuba are fully compatible for unison/octave playing, except that one line per page is specific to trombone, or valved instruments (marked with an * after the line number).
About the Focus Sheets:
- Most important skills are together on one page.
- One sheet for each of 3 phases of first-year instruction.
- Available free of charge for Trombone, Trumpet, Euphonium, and Tuba
- Use alongside any standard band method, or beginner book.
- Start each lesson with material from the Focus Sheets.
- Effective as instructional AND evaluation material.
- Focus Sheet #3 also makes excellent review and warmup material for 2nd year players and beyond.
Focus Sheets provide a framework for teaching:
- Note reading
- Tone production
- The motor skills needed to play successfully
- Scale patterns with tonic and dominant arpeggios
When to use the sheets:
- Focus Sheet #1 is for absolute beginners.
- Move to Sheet #2 at the earliest time you feel your students are ready.
- Move to Sheet #3 after the skills in Sheet #2 have been solidly mastered.
Using the Sheets
The power of the Focus Sheets comes from repeating the items in each lesson, so that students build true mastery of a key set of skills.
Some of the most strategic items in the Focus Sheets are the mini scales that flow into tonic and dominant arpeggios. Together, the scale and tonic-dominant arpeggios cover most of the note combinations a student will use to play tunes in a given key. By repeating these patterns each week, students can fully master them. Your students are then primed for success when they go on to play a variety of tunes in that key from their book.
For example, compare the “Mexican Hat Dance” to the corresponding focus sheet line:
Consider also tunes like Skip To My Lou, and The Surprise Symphony. If a student has mastered the focus sheet line in that key, they already are skilled at playing the most relevant combinations of notes.
As you go through the year, you can make a game of finding places where the Focus Sheets line up with items from your book!
Using the Focus Sheets for Summation and Evaluation
The Focus Sheets are ideal material for summative projects and evaluations, because they contain comprehensive technical challenges in a succinct format. You could have your students make an audio or video recording of all or part of a Focus Sheet, as an end of term project.
Thank you for checking out the Focus Sheets.
I hope you will find the Focus Sheets to be a powerful tool in your teaching toolbox. And that they will help you produce thriving brass students!