Hands-On Review:Hal Leonard Essential Elements

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Hal Leonard Essential Elements
2000 Plus DVD

By Randy LaFayette

If you're one of the thousands of band directors and music educators across the country who have chosen to use Essential Elements 2000 in your classroom, here's some fantastic news: this new edition is even better. That should be obvious; otherwise, why would you mess with the best-selling band method in America? For those who haven't experienced the EE 2000 difference, there are even more reasons than ever to start using this groundbreaking band method.


Through the use of DVD, computer ROM, and Internet capabilities, Essential Elements 2000 Plus DVD

will stretch the boundaries of your classroom, delivering huge benefits for your students musical development. EE 2000

will go wherever your students go, providing quality instruction through the media relevant to their lifestyles.


No matter which media your students have access to, they will be able to take advantage of a huge benefit this method offers: 58 play-along tracks that feature a professional musician performing the exercise. This comprehensive learning method for beginning and intermediate band students gives you and your class opportunities for real musical learning.


With the proliferation of the personal-or more appropriately, the family-computer, it has become easier for teachers to use it as a tool for education; so Hal Leonard has stepped up to the plate and delivered a product that will fit an educator's needs for computer-based learning. While the Essential Elements 2000 book contains the same great band method, the included multiformat disc includes material for use with a CD player, DVD player, and a computer equipped with either a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. With just one disc you can offer your students an abundance of learning opportunities.


The CD contains the same features as the previous version of Essential Elements 2000: the 58 play-along exercises. This gives your students invaluable experience playing alongside a professional musician. It also gives them time to practice their instruments with a mind to some of the elements of performance that you don't always have time to go over in class, such as tone, dramatic styling, and developing a better feel for their instruments. For stringed instrument players, there are 71 play-along exercises, and each one features a full, professional orchestra as a backing track.


The DVD portion of the disc also includes the 58 play-along exercises, but adds 127 play-along tracks (total of 185) for the rest of the exercises included in the EE 2000 book and an instrument-specific 15 minute introductory video.


The rest of the exercises offer your students more in-depth learning opportunities, while the start-up video will give them some insight into their new instruments covering basics such as how to hold them, how to sit, and how to properly clean and care for them. Once again, Essential Elements 2000 Plus DVD For Strings users get a little extra, as the DVD features 192 play-along tracks for practice and enjoyment.


The ROM segment is compatible with either CD or DVD-ROM drives, but students with a DVD-ROM drive will be able to access a few more features than those with a CD-ROM only. Both versions include a tempo adjustment tool and SmartMusic and Finale NotePad software. The DVD-ROM also provides access to the start-up video, all 185 (or 192 for strings) play-along tracks, a duets and trios feature, and a listening library.


Computer-based education
Tempo Adjustment is a smart software program that allows the speed of the practice tracks to be adjusted to the student's desired tempo for easier learning or according to a pace predetermined by you. The Duets and Trios feature lets students collaborate with each other by printing out scores with two- and three-piece parts to practice and play. The Music Listening Library is a place students can go to hear great pieces performed.


SmartMusic and Finale NotePad are the two features that put the most power into the hands of your pupils. SmartMusic is an incredible software program designed to help students get the most from their individual practice times with effective tools and objective feedback. Finale NotePad is a program that introduces the basic concepts of notation and gives young musicians a chance to develop their own basic compositions and arrangements.


Smart development
SmartMusic gives each student use of a complex metronome, tools to record and play their own performances, the ability to transpose music to any key, and powerful accompaniment and solo features. All of these elements ensure your students will always practice with accompaniment, nurturing a more complete understanding of the music as well as ensuring that they play at the right tempo. SmartMusic can even provide you with a record of their practice for more accurate assessment of their skills and abilities. Recording themselves while performing also offers students a unique musical development opportunity because they often do not hear how they perform. With a recording, they can listen to themselves and dramatically accelerate their learning and improvement. The recordings can even be saved for writing to a CD or emailing to you for assessment and/or grading.


The auto-accompaniment feature will prove to be invaluable for students attempting to integrate their playing into a larger group or performing with an accompanist. Plus, SmartMusic doesn't just accompany your students-it's smart enough to follow along through tempo changes, giving more freedom for expression and exploration. Of course, this Intelligent Accompaniment feature is selectable, so students can also learn to follow the music's original tempo or tempo of choice.


With all the expanded capabilities of this new edition of Essential Elements 2000 Plus DVD, your students will have more opportunities than ever to learn and grow as musicians outside of the classroom.


Features & Specs:



Comprehensive band method for instruments. Multiformat disc: CD, DVD, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM.
CD features:DVD features:
  • Tracks 1-71 for strings
  • Professional player for every instrument
  • All CD features
  • 15-min. learn-the-basics startup video
  • Play-along tracks for every exercise
CD-ROM features:DVD-ROM features:
  • All CD features
  • SmartMusic software
  • Finale NotePad software
  • Tempo Adjustment software for play-along tracks
  • All CD-ROM features
  • All DVD features
  • Duets and Trios
  • Music Listening Library