This mini-series started with strings, worked with woodwind, and now we are blowing the trumpet for brass!

There are Figurenoters doing some brilliant things with brass. Take a look at Favela Brass in Brazil as a prime example of what can be achieved.

We are in no way dictatorial about how you use Figurenotes with brass instruments, so this blog will be a series of ideas for you to take away. I will focus on the trumpet, for ease, but these methods can be adapted for different instruments.

Teaching brass with Figurenotes can be just the same as with conventional notation. You teach each note, the valves/fingers you use, or the slide position, and associate this with the note/colour. However, if you want to use something to reinforce this learning, try the ideas below.

Resonaari, the Finnish school where Figurenotes was created, uses lines above the notes to show which valves need to be used. Use this to learn the notes and then try to limit their use in pieces. Try to reinforce the colour, maybe the letter name, in order to progress with reading. These lines are easily written on your Figurenotes score using a pencil or marker.

• Favela Brass in Rio de Janeiro uses a different method to show how to play each note. They use numbers to show which valves to use. This would also work well for trombone, as you can use the numbers 1-7 for the slide position instead.

We have created an exercise to help you test your pupils’ knowledge of their finger patterns. Try laminating this resource (available from the Resource Base) and use a dry-wipe marker, so you can use the exercise again and again.

We covered transposition in our Working with Woodwind blog, so if you have questions about transposition, I suggest you go back and take a look.

Use these tools to help teach individual notes and/or scales. Teaching with Figurenotes needn’t be vastly different to your normal teaching style. Just as in the woodwind blog last week, you can teach notes in your normal style, but use colour and patterns to reinforce this learning. Be aware of your pupils’ needs and use the right approach for them. Let us know if you have another way of teaching brass with Figurenotes. We’d love to hear your thoughts in our Facebook group: Figurenotes – Let’s Make Music.


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