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The Big Moment! Directing Tchaikowsky's famous Nutcracker Suite! I'm so glad mother could come! And my sweetheart Dave (a human). I give God thanks!

(Kids: buy my whole calendar! $7 at the Family Music Center, 4110 SW 9th, Des Moines Iowa!)


Join The Treble Makers!
- The Family Music Center student band!

     A wonderful opportunity for kids who are serious about music and who don't mind being on Youtube! Parents and pros are welcome too!
     A small group of young musicians of mixed ages, sometimes adults, who practice an hour and a half a week and perform about once a month. Begun 35 years ago, we have performed at Grandpa/Grandma Homes, the Iowa State Fair, ImaginEve, Illumifest, Downtown Farmers Market, an Easter church service at Camp Dodge, Door of Faith, churches, and parties.
     Our video record of our music has been spotty, but a few videos over the years are posted at FamilyBandChannel.
     Below are some of the reasons our group is a more advanced educational experience, in some ways, than anything kids can get anywhere else, helping band members become especially good for their age, along with building self confidence in their service to others.

Contact: Family Music Center, 244-3711, music@Saltshaker.US


Be on Youtube!

Play with the pros!

Get really good!

Play in a recording studio!

Get free coaching!

Be on a DVD!

Be on a music video!

Be in a band which your siblings and parents can also join!

Have fun!

No cost to join! (Although you may need lessons to learn the parts.)

10% off on music and musical merchandise if you take lessons!



     You can do it! You can be play good enough to sound good with professional musicians!
     You don't have to practice 8 hours a day to do it, either. Even if you can only play very easy, simple music, you can learn to play it very well and become a valuable player in our band.
     In fact, as soon as you can play well the songs on the first 10 pages of a beginning lesson book, we can give you parts that fit your ability that you can sound good on!
     But you do have to commit to practicing regularly at home, in addition to band practices at school.
     If you are taking lessons at the Family Music Center, no charge. The lessons will give us enough time to help you learn our music, along with staying ahead on your school music.
     If you are not taking lessons, $25 one time fee, to cover only a part of the value of the time needed to arrange parts you are able to play, and to give you a little extra help learning them.
     High school and older advanced musicians, no requirements other than to tell us which practices and performances you are available.
     Getting Started:
     Step #1: Make your decision to join, and to stay with us at least four months, and then to give a one month notice before quitting. (Optional) if you would like to sing or play a solo, or say some jokes in between the songs, let me know. We will have special practices for that.
     Step #2: Call for two appointments, about a week apart. These will be like private lessons, but there will be no charge.
     At the first appointment, I will learn how much you can play, and I will give you a few parts to practice that are roughly tailored to your ability.
     At the second appointment, after you have had a chance to practice the parts, we will go over together any sections that seem too hard to learn in a month, and simplify them; and I will give you more parts. with.
     Step #3: Practice your parts at home, and start coming to our practices.

Educational Value

     The Treble Makers Band offers a powerful supplement to public school music instruction, by using regular feedback from performing alongside advance musicians, more individual attention than is possible in a public school, and recordings, to help students play more precisely than is possible in a public school setting. This experience will help your child(ren) move towards First Chair at school. And you will long treasure the music videos featuring your child(ren) in which, unlike in a large musical group, you can hear their individual parts clearly.
     A recording studio is unlike any experience your child(ren) will have in school. If even a single note is out of tune, or at the wrong time, not to mention the wrong note, we will hear the mistake as clearly as dropping a bowling ball on a stack of windows, and it will have to be played over again.
     Although this will seem hard, a quality recording will make your child(ren) a better musician, in a shorter period of time, than any other musical experience; even live performance.

Individual attention

     Playing in our small group gives you as much individual attention from a music teacher as a private lesson - although a different kind of attention. Our group is small enough, and every student plays a different part, which makes it possible for me, the director, to hear every missed note and know who missed it, just like in a private lesson. So then I can help you correct those bloopers, immediately, just like in a private lesson.
     School bands are a valuable experience too, but they are a different experience. In school bands, missed notes always hurt the sound, but it is not often possible to tell who missed them. With several people playing each part, the director can't tell for sure until he has just a few at a time play, or even one at a time.
     Of course, having a private lesson too will really help your progress, because then I can have more uninterrupted time to help you master every aspect of music. But with private lessons without our band, you miss the benefits of playing with others, which requires you to master your part more consistently than you get away with in a private lesson; plus that extra hour and a half of almost personal instruction.

The value of playing with musicians better than you

     Years ago I met a fantastic trumpet player living in Hollywood who played 4th trumpet in some jazz bands in Hollywood and was disappointed that the bands he was in didn't play more often.
     I said, "Why don't you move to Des Moines where you will play 1st chair and play as often as you like?"
     He said no: his goal is to "keep up his edge" - in other words, he wants to STAY good, and get better.
     He said to do that, you need to play as often as you can with musicians who are better than you. He can do that in Hollywood; not so much in Des Moines.
     Our band gives you the experience of playing with musicians who are older and better than you. And yet without anyone making you feel inferior because you are younger; (I may cry when you don't practice but I don't think of anyone as my inferior).
     In fact we make a point of appreciating your youth, because it is how well you perform, in relation to your age, that "wows" audiences. And also, by the way, "wows" me.
     Besides myself, other adults have performed with us in the past, and are always welcome. One, Brian Pierson, bass, was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame while he was performing with us.
     Virtually no other group in this city gives you this opportunity, by mixing musicians of widely different abilities, wider than the difference between students of about the same age who practice a lot and who practice a little. Community bands, for adults, mix people of all ages, but they can’t have parts any farther apart in difficulty than 1st and 3rd parts, because no one publishes any such band arrangements.
     Virtually no other group mixes professionals and beginners. Where else does the music director perform with his beginners?
     Well, OK, last year I saw a first: at Weeks middle school, 5th graders were joined by Lincoln High School students and even the music teachers in playing such hits as "Hot Cross Buns" and "Mary's Lamb".
     But that was to help make the music recognizable and drown out mistakes. It was a handful of advanced players playing with a score of beginners on the same part.
     That is a really neat idea; I'm glad they do it. But what we do more is we have different people on different parts so both the professionals and the beginners can be heard distinctly.
     It is impossible unless you have a director who can arrange parts and is willing to take the time to do that, because no published music has arrangements with parts with a wide difference in difficulty.
     There are several reasons it is a valuable educational experience to play with musicians who are better than you.
     1. Just hearing the sound of music played more expertly than you are playing it, right next to you where you can hear it and understand it better than listening to any recording, is like having a private lesson. Much of the value of lessons is showing you the difference between your sound and a better sound. Some of it is showing you technical tricks to help you get that sound, but to the extent you can clearly hear the difference between a good sound and a professional sound, you have less need of a teacher.
     2. Reading rhythm is something many students struggle with all the way to a music major in college. I know because I have taught three high school students who majored in music. But you develop a very good sense of rhythm, very early, in our band because easy parts necessarily have simpler rhythms than harder parts. That means students on simple parts can't follow other students next them, as an alternative to counting for themselves. You have to count yourself, and be so sure of the beat that you come in at the right time, even if no one else comes in at the same time. (Although some less common instruments in school bands, like bassoon, oboe, or bass clarinet, have only one player to a part so they have to learn counting well.)
     3. The wide mix of ages is beneficial. Younger students "grow up" a little faster when they are with older students. The goofiness and lack of discipline that impresses other younger students fails to secure the admiration of older students.
     Not that age always makes one entirely sober; it hasn't for me. Do I have too much "fun" myself? Do I tolerate too much "fun" from others? My focus is on preparing for our next performance. Only when "fun" seems to me to interfere with preparing, do I get serious fast. Still, a mix of ages seems to make the group more focused than everyone being the same age. Self Confidence
     4. The self confidence one earns by responsibly playing on a team with better players is valuable. After you perform on stage with better musicians and be loved by audiences, how nervous can you be back with school groups your own age? In fact this is valuable preparation for standing before any audience, in any forum, in any role.

Conflicts with other activities

Please check our extended calendar, and let us know of any conflicts. When we get new dates, check with school music teachers, coaches, church, and everyone else who might later tell you about some obligation that conflicts. Don't just wait for them to tell you of scheduled events, but tell them the dates you are needed for our band, and ask them if they are thinking of scheduling anything on those dates.

Show your coaches, etc., our calendar, at the very beginning of the season, and explain to them that our performances need to be scheduled often months ahead of time, and your child(ren) need to be responsible, and the educational value of our organization is equal to that of schools and other extra curricular activities. So that it would be inappropriate to penalize a child for missing a ball practice that conflicts with a public musical performance, especially one scheduled long before the ball practice. Surely the coach will agree he should not penalize a child for being responsible, and thus reward irresponsibility.

The Details:

The band performs "G rated" music families can enjoy together.

The band members range in age from 7 to 70, like families. The abilities of musicians range from beginner to professional, just like families.

The audience will be refreshed by being able to listen to fine music, and by being able to watch children, at the same time. People are inspired by watching others do very well in relation to their capacity.

The audience will be encouraged as they watch children and adults getting along and having fun with each other. (How often does our culture provide that experience?)

Once you can do the following things, and you have learned our parts, you will sound that good. And you will probably advance to first chair in your school band.

(1) play at least 8 major scales in at least one  octave, without error, at least one note per  second, (at a very steady rhythm), and with vibrato (except clarinets and F horns). (Pros can play all 12  major scales, plus the minor scales, in 2 octaves at 4  notes per second, and play with vibrato whether low or  high, loud or soft)

(2) Play one scale slowly, in two octaves, perfectly in tune as measured by an electronic tuner. (You can buy a good tuner for $50, or you can borrow one for a week.)

(3) Play one scale with all notes accented, march?style, with clear, crisp tonguing and spaces between the notes; a second scale with  all notes legato; a third scale with a dotted eighth  and sixteenth jazz rhythm; and a fourth scale with notes alternating between very loud and very soft.

(4) Play a chromatic scale from your lowest to  highest note and back down. Any speed, but at a very  steady rhythm. (Pros can play chromatics at about 6?8  notes per second)

(5) Be able to sight read any rhythm in a first?year method book without error. (Pros can sightread any melody or rhythm in a 4th year book; and with  practice, master much more)

(7) Maintain a business?like, professional  attitude: pleasant, cheerful, kind, content to remain  in your seat, and dependable; no whining disrespect towards any group member, insults, interruptions of, or distractions from, the group's train of thought, or cruelty. Come to rehearsals promptly, and be ready to stay as much later than the scheduled quitting time as you were late in arriving, and call ahead when you can't come.


Performance opportunities

The State Fair and county fairs,  retirement homes, "children's church", Christian schools, Neighborhood Association events, political rallies, Missions programs (Bethel, Beacon of Life, etc.) and city events such as the Two Rivers Festival.

Churches, Gospel coffeehouses, political rallies, city events such as "Jazz In July", wedding  receptions, car shows, company parties, farm machinery shows, and conventions.

Our success in getting these "gigs" will depend partly on leads from band members! So keep  your eyes open, tell people about us, and let us know  when you see an opportunity!


You will find us a religious group, but not a  denominational group. Our repertoire includes Scripture-based songs, but does not deal with the issues that divide denominations. If you would like to discuss the Bible, we would love to set another time for it besides music rehearsal. We open rehearsals with prayer, but other than that the only time you are likely to hear the Bible quoted during a rehearsal will be to correct unprofessional behavior or attitudes.


We have religious music for Christian meetings, a mix of originals and old Jazz standards for events like Jazz in July. For company parties, car shows, and farm machinery shows, a mix of happy oldies, patriotic, and a few token new country bits and a few originals. We can market for conventions and political rallies with a more focused patriotic and "Love Your Neighbor" music show. Wedding receptions will need a mix of positive "G-rated" love songs (no lust songs) from the past and present. (Titles marked with an asterisk* are Uncle Ed. originals.)

Legally Blinding Contract


I give my permission for "Lowbudget Productions", created by Dave Leach, to use video of me, to produce music videos, in any manner dictated by his discretion. In the event the videos should in the future make money, I agree to accept, as my compensation, at least one percent but no more than five percent of the gross sales generated by each video in which I appear, and 50% of all CD's and DVD's sold by me..










             _____________Parent, if the Musician is a minor



Morally Binding Contract


In return for admission to The Treble Makers, and a free copy of any CD or DVD produced with me in it, I agree:

(1) To practice at least 30 minutes a day, average. Until my parts are recorded, at least 15 minutes of each daily practice will be on Treble Makers music. I will fill out a practice time card.

(2) To remain with the band at least four months from today's date, and to give at least one month's notice before quitting.



Musician_________________________ Date _______________________




Music, in general, instills habits of self-discipline like no other study commonly available to children. Sports requires a regular time commitment, but there is always a coach watching over you to make sure you are working. Academic subjects require homework, working all by yourself, but only sometimes, and if you are smart you can slide by without it and still do well. And neither sports, nor academics, expect work all year long.

Only music pressures you to practice regularly, every day of the week, all year long, with no coach over you showing you what to do or getting after you if you get lazy. Even if you are smart! This degree of self discipline: making a commitment, fulfilling it even when you are not in the mood, remembering what to do even with no one watching over you, not giving up but working patiently, faithfully, towards a standard of excellence years away, is the skill needed to start your own business; to make marriage work; to reach some wonderful, but seemingly impossible goal; to, in general terms, "be successful". Music students who stay with it at least four years have, on average, 10% higher SAT scores in both math and English!

For these reasons, encourage music study! Be patient when your children fall short of standards higher than for any other course of study! Don't make quitting easier than succeeding, but give them the support to succeed!

Don't tell them,"You aren't practicing enough, so I am going to return your instrument, leaving only, to fill your time, TV and video games!" Allow your children to "quit" only to do something else that makes their brains grow. Make addictions that displace brain growth as unacceptable as not going to school.

Our scheduling is flexible. If the parts are mastered early, attendance will not be required at all the rehearsals. Transportion may not even be a problem; we have been able to arrange quite a bit of carpooling, so far.

Joining our band is a commitment: you must pledge to remain with us at least four months. There is no cost to you, but much expense will be invested in you. Lots of time will be invested in specially arranging parts for you, and it will be very difficult for us if we learn arrangements that depend on you, and you leave us before we have opportunity to perform them.


January: Introduction

February: Repair Shop

March: Secrets of Scales & key signatures

April: "The Lesson No One Expected" (An Amazing Story featuring the Practice Fairy!)

May: Maintenance for instruments

June: "The Music Wars" (An Adventure Story about Superhero Angels and the Minstrels of Darkness!)

July: Basic accessories for musical instruments

August: How to practice, and how MUCH to practice! (Moms and dads: This is such universal advice about how to succeed, that it will even tell you how to LOSE WEIGHT!)

September: Secrets of Rental Plan, Store History. A tribute to Alonzo Leach, founder of Family Music Center in 1922, (then called Alonzo Leach Musical Instruments), Drake band director, and secretary of the Iowa Bandmasters Association & key signatures

October: Dr. Screech's Family Band Method (a very basic, easy to read very beginning CARTOON method, with easy-to-understand theory basics helpful for students who have played a few years -- great for parents helping their children)

November: Join the Treble Makers! - Family Music Center Student Band! - A wonderful opportunity for kids who are serious about music and who don't mind being on Youtube!

December: Music Store Ethics Statement

Next Year:




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