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Monday, September 4, 2017

First couple of weeks - new discoveries


This is my 12th year teaching orchestra, and I'm still learning and discovering more efficient ways to teach students and take care of daily teaching duties.  Here are a few of my discoveries from the first couple weeks of school...wish I would have known this stuff earlier!

1.  Putting tapes on instruments.  

I've posted before about the kind of tapes I use...car pinstripe tape:


It takes a lot of time to put tapes on instruments.  Some years I have let my more advanced students put tapes on the beginner instruments, but it's just better if I do it myself.  Students are frustrated if their tapes don't sound right and I want them to play in tune.  I finally got my groove and can just whip out the tapes on instruments.  It takes me about one minute per instrument to get the tapes on.  I've learned to leave the tapes attached to the roll (Don't rip off 4 pieces, then put them on).  Slide them up to about the right spot on the fingerboard, then rip them.  After getting the 3-4 tapes on the fingerboard, you can quickly adjust them to just the right place and have the student stick them down around the neck.  Here's a video to show what this looks like:

video

2.  Use a pencil to fix pancake wrists.

For violin/viola students with super stubborn flat wrists...tape a pencil to the back of the instrument.  I tease my students and tell them I'll make the sharp part point outward, but I make the eraser side point out.  Use painters tape to make sure the adhesive won't damage the varnish.  Just mentioning that I MIGHT tape on a pencil motivated students to fix their wrists.  I only actually do it if absolutely necessary.




3.  Look through the stick when teaching loosing/tightening.

It seems that there are always a few beginners who over-tighten their bows.  This year while explaining how to tighten/loosen, I had students hold the bow up to their eyes and look through the middle.  They could see that the hair slightly touches the stick when loose, and there is just a small slit to look through when it is tightened.  I haven't had kids over-tighten this year...and they are doing really well remember to loosen their bows after they play.



4.  Teach RHYTHM before note-reading!  

I usually dive right into note-reading, but this year I decided to try teaching rhythm first.  Wow - it's changed my life!  Students are quickly reading rhythms and playing together on all of our exercises.  Having a solid foundation in rhythm will help the ensemble all year and they already are reading so well.  They don't have to worry about reading notes yet, since we are using my rote book, "Starting by Rote" (available at www.orchestraclassroom.com or TPT).


I am also reinforcing rhythm skills with these short bell-work exercises in my new book, "Rhythm Work" (available at TPT).   24 pages of 1/2 page printable worksheets and 2 full page rhythm final tests.





 I feel like this focus on rhythm has helped students learn exercises more quickly because they understand when to change notes!  I will now be teaching rhythm before note-reading every year.


1 comment:

  1. These are such excellent suggestions! I am off to get your book, Rhythm Work for Beginning Strings!

    Thank you!
    Maria@
    www.musicteachingandparenting.com

    ReplyDelete