I had a fabulous first day and it felt so good to be back in the classroom. I tend to do things differently every year because I like to try new things. Because students are always bombarded with teacher disclosures and classroom policies, I like to wait until day 2 to start going over business. Students are excited to learn to play, and I want to keep them excited and give them something to practice from the very first day. This year, I passed out straws to every student. We learned how to hold the bow using the straw. We then played a game where students had to balance a penny on top of their straw. Students took the straws home and practiced their bow holds and they were determined to be able to keep the pennies on their bows. When they came to class on day 2, their bow holds were already looking quite good. To add difficulty, we practiced our straw bow holds and tried to keep ping pong balls on top. Students LOVED these exercises and teaching bow hold became so much easier and faster this year. Every day during the first week of school, I taught bow hold in a different way (same bow hold - just showed different steps/imagery). By the end of the week, all students had it.
Last week, I taught left hand shape, and students were able to learn this very quickly because I let them earn this little balancing eagle. I demonstrated and taught my exact expectations for left hand form and shape and told students they could only earn an eagle if their hand shape met my expectations. Students were determined to get it right, and I found that I haven't needed to be constantly be fixing collapsed wrists on my violin/viola players. Wow - when students are really motivated to get it right - they do it!