How can educators and students learn about tone quality across the spectrum of band and orchestral instruments? A set of educational materials from Schottenbauer Publishing offer opportunities for learning multiple aspects of tone quality, including:
- Identifying tone quality in band and orchestral instruments
- Understanding the math and science of tone quality
- Linking instrumental skills to auditory and math/science skills
To meet the first goal, the student can obtain recordings of multiple instruments, including common examples of good and poor tone quality. By listening carefully to comparison and contrast examples, and reading descriptions of each sample in words, students can develop and hone skills for identifying good tone. The multimedia set Ear Training: Tone Quality (Level 1) from MusicaNeo contains over 250 computer audio files with performance samples from common musical instruments, including strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The series is accompanied by a brief lead sheet with exercises for improving tone quality, as well as an audio file with a computer realization of the exercises.
To meet the second goal, the student can obtain graphs of tone quality samples from multiple instruments, including common examples of good and poor tone quality. By comparing these tone samples visually, and by reading descriptions of each sample in words, students can develop a mathematical/graphical understanding of good tone. The book series Where Does Sound Come From? and the anthology The Science of Music provide graphs with performance samples from common musical instruments, including strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The graph below provides one example of the contents of these book series.
To meet the third goal, students can record their own musical performance on a microphone at the computer, and analyze the sound wave using a free program such as Audacity. Students can follow procedures from the free blog article Easy Science of Music Experiment to analyze their tone quality.
These educational tools can be integrated into music education curricula from late elementary school through high school and college/university, in classrooms, after-school enrichment programs, individual lessons, independent study, and/or homeschool. Additional information is available on the Schottenbauer Publishing website, and from the links below. A free pamphlet from the publisher is also available on the website.