This happens way too often with beginner reed players. I’ve found that most often the main cause is due to lack of proper instrument preparation. I’d like to pose a quick question: Do you think your students can determine a “Honk” from a “Note?”
If your students can determine this, spend the majority of the time talking to them about how important instrument preparation is. If your student plays a reed instrument, have them play first with a dryish reed to hear what they sound like. Let them see first hand how hard it is to play with a dry reed. Then have them each soak their reeds in warm water for one to two minutes. We want to make sure they can tell the difference. Once they’ve soaked their reeds, have them put the reeds back on and try playing again. Besides getting practice putting those reeds on they’ll also see an immediate difference in how much easier it is to play with a properly soaked reed.
In my experience this initial lesson focused on instrument preparation is critical to a student’s success as it helps them produce quality sounds early on. This frees students to focus more on fingerings, rhythms and dynamics much sooner than they would have otherwise. It also helps them get into a good habit of proper instrument preparation.
Besides all those benefits, just think how much less frustrated everyone will be because of the early success they’ve achieved without learning much other than putting their instrument together properly.
Have you tried this with your students? Do you have any other tips and tricks that are helpful that you’d like to share?