One of the keys to beginning students enjoying band is experiencing success early on. We're not talking about prodigy-type success, but rather the simple success of articulating a note, creating a nice sound, and in general walking away from that first instrument tryout night feeling like they can do it. They can play the clarinet or saxophone. They can make music! Too often, this first experience isn't as rewarding as it should be which leads to frustration and quickly turns into “I can’t do this.” We all know where that leads...
While nothing beats the attention and guidance of a good teacher, often times poor quality equipment is also part of the problem. The typical sentiment goes like this: "They are beginners - any reed, mouthpiece or instrument will do." An experienced teacher will tell you that in reality, picking up the clarinet or saxophone for the first time is challenging enough under perfect circumstances. No matter how much natural talent a student might possess, poor quality equipment immediately presents a road block to the student's enjoyment and success. What's worse is that to the student, it's personal. They don't have the experience to know that some of their struggles stem from poor quality equipment. All they know is that they aren't succeeding, they don't sound good, they can't do it.
In the end, this leads to discouraged students that are less likely to reach their full potential, or even continue in band at all. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons - budget restrictions, lack of knowledge, or even just more pressing issues to deal with - this is exactly the experience that many new band students face every year.
This issue was brought to the attention of Bernard Van Doren several years ago and he was determined to do what he could as a reed manufacturer to help every student achieve their full potential. He sought out to create a reed that would bring students and band directors Vandoren quality at a student price. The result was Vandoren JUNO reeds. Made from the same cane at the same factory as all Vandoren reeds, JUNO is the first reed specifically designed for beginning students. JUNO reeds will benefit your students, your program, and the sound of your band. Here’s how:
Sound is the reason students are drawn to an instrument in the first place. Whether they’ve heard it on the radio or from an instrumentalist in the family, a beginning student wants to make that sound for him or herself!
Many woodwind beginners struggle with the mechanics of sound production, and JUNO can help! JUNO reeds feature an ultra flexible cut designed for easy response and a full sound while the student continues to fine tune their embouchure and air stream. This leads beginners to better sounds much earlier on in their development, allowing you as the teacher to start talking about concepts like tone quality and dynamics rather than just creating a sound.
Student Engagement and Retention
Students quit band for a variety of reasons - their friend quit, sports got in the way, it was too hard or too much work, etc. Many of these things are out of your control as a band director, but not all. Students are much more likely to stick with band when they:
1. have a great band director to keep them interested
2. feel like they're succeeding at their instrument
Playing an instrument is more fun when they sound good, and as a result they are more inclined to practice, enjoy full band, and in the end continue playing in your program. If you're reading this article, odds are you are already a dedicated educator - so #2 is the challenge! Beginning woodwind students shouldn’t spend their time and energy trying to overcome the limitations of a bad reed, they should be enjoying making music together!
Easy on the budget
Ahhhhh you knew we had to talk money, right? Kids break reeds, lose reeds, and you might even have to purchase them for your own program, so price is an issue. The good news it that with JUNO, you get Vandoren quality at a student price. JUNO reeds are priced at or below other entry-level reeds making it a pretty easy sell for your band parents: great sound and totally affordable! JUNO reeds are also available in packages of 25 for your band room at a special educator price. And all JUNO reeds are individually packaged in the revolutionary Vandoren Flow Pack, which seals in the perfect humidity so the reeds are factory fresh until your students need them.
Who should consider JUNO?
Vandoren JUNO reeds give beginners a head start on their instrument. It's not hard to see how this early success translates to bigger and better things down the line. So if you teach beginners and are looking for a higher quality entry level reed, JUNO is it. Don't teach beginners? Think of your feeder schools. Could they benefit from an equipment upgrade like JUNO? How could that translate to your program a few years down the line? No one is claiming a product is the savior of your band program, but JUNO can certainly help your woodwinds. Inferior reeds no longer need to be a deterrent for beginning students in your program.
JUNO reeds are available for Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, alto, and tenor saxophone in a variety of packaging. Make sure to ask your local music store about JUNO reeds. Find a local JUNO dealer here.