The Assessment Lick

It’s that time of year again. The dreaded few weeks of intense rehearsals and music director stress. Assessment season leaves its mark on many weary music teacher. This phenomenon is not lost on the students who bear the brunt of this hyper-preparedness syndrome.

This past Saturday, a student of mine came in for his lesson and immediately began talking of his escapades in his 8th grade middle school band class. Seems he was removed from class for his “attitude”. Well, long story short, he proceeded to play a smooth little pentatonic/aeolian riff during his warm up that caught my ear. Immediately, we transcribed it and named it “The Assessment Lick”. It’s always a thrill to see young students creating such gems out of the blue.  Creativity born of frustration and teen angst.

Performance notes:

Make sure to work slowly picking each note. Once you master the pattern you should proceed to repeat it slowly making sure you have locked in pick direction and articulation. 

For a change of mode, simply change the F natural note in the pattern to F# (fret 9, string 2) and you have a Dorian riff that will sound funky and hip.

Of course, if you take the same note and make it a G natural (10th fret) you have a pure pentatonic pattern that will impressive your friends and maybe, just maybe, your band director:)


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