Are you looking for more musical opportunities?
Do you really enjoy playing your instrument, and want to learn more?
Maybe it's time to consider...
Private Music Lessons - private lessons are one of the most effective ways to learn from an expert and grow as a musician. When you take private lessons, you will get to learn one-on-one from someone that specializes in your instrument. You can work on music from school if you want, but more often you will find that the teacher knows of other resources that address your playing very well. Things like solos, etudes, technique exercises, duets, and more may be presented and challenge you in new ways. Get in touch with Mr. Clark to learn more about private lessons. Depending on your instrument, you may be referred to someone else.
Sometimes you will do weekly lessons, or bi-weekly, or monthly... every lesson you have will teach you something new and help you get better!
Each private teacher has their own hourly rates, and prices vary. Email email@example.com and Mr. Clark will help you get started.
Outside-of-school literature - there is LOTS of printed music out there. Lots of it could be songs you already know! It's fun to play all kinds of music from movies, TV, or your iPod. A good place to start is "MakingMusicFun.net". Try googling your favorite song and add your instrument to the end, then switch over to image searching. Don't forget about the key signature :)
Compose your own (or see others) - FREE STUFF ALERT - there is a wonderful composing tool called Noteflight (www.noteflight.com). A free account is required, so check with your parents to make sure it's okay with them. Using Noteflight, you can write your own music and hear it played back by digital instruments that sound like the real thing. Write for any band instrument, then choose whether to keep your song private or make it public. Other people share their projects, and you can play along. You can find lots of movie, TV, and video game music transcribed here.
Noteflight also has the optional "crescendo" membership, which does cost money, but has more features. It is not required by any means to take advantage of this wonderful resource.
If you would rather compose on paper instead of using the computer, print off blank staff paper here . Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect like the printed music in school. Write it down in a way you'll be able to remember, then try to make it clear enough that someone else will be able to understand, too. Use pencil, though... composers tend to change their minds frequently!
Play along - We live a wonderful age for recorded music. Next time you're listening to your favorite music on YouTube or iTunes, get your instrument out and try to figure out the parts. This is a great way to develop your ear and your playing ability. You can do more than you think! Maybe you'll have to learn a new note, but luckily all the fingerings are printed in the back of your red Standard of Excellence book. I remember trying to play along with tapes of my favorite songs when I was in elementary school. It's a lot of fun!
Learn to improvise - improvising is the musical skill of making it up as you go along. Improvising is one of my favorite ways to make music. My process starts with hearing a phrase in my head, then I try to make that music come out of the instrument. In this video, one of my favorite musicians, "Trombone Shorty", is playing with his band. For the first 45 seconds, all the instruments are doing similar things. Then, he improvises (makes up) a trombone solo. At 1:10, he plays together with the band. At 1:27, he starts another improvised solo. This is one of the best ways to be a creative musician.
Practice improvising using songs you already know, or for something simpler, a "backing track". A Backing Track means there is no other melody, just instruments playing beneath you while you make things up. A good place to start might be with this Blues Pattern, this Samba Pattern, or this Rock Backing Track. Play along until you're out of ideas, then jump in and try again. Always use your best sound!