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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting students QUIET during rehearsal

Classroom management is pretty important in an orchestra class.  We arm students with noisy instruments with so many tempting sound effects...then we must ask that they only play them when we say.  It takes quite a bit of self-control.

From the very first week of school, I implement a few procedures so that my students will immediately be quiet when I need their attention.  When I stand just to the left of my podium/stand, students are to go to rest position.  When I step in front of my stand, they go to 'ready' position (violin and viola students put instruments upright on knees).  When my violin or arms go up, they go to play position and set their bow on the string without making a sound until I start.  We practice that procedure so that students always know what to do based on where I am standing.  This procedure works great for rehearsals when I am mostly in front of the class.

There are plenty of times where I am walking through the class as I teach in order to help and correct individual students.  If the class has become too loud, it would not be as effective for me to have to walk all the way to the front just to stand by my podium to make the class get quiet.  There are also times when I am trying to keep a quick pace to my lesson and I don't want to take the time to go to rest position.  In these cases, I simply show the class my bow hold (sometimes I am holding a bow, a pencil, or nothing...I just model a bow hold and stick my hand in the air).  Students are trained to immediately be quiet and show me their bow holds.  It is a way I can quickly get their attention and re-direct their focus when the class is too loud.

I like to have fun with my classes, so I let them get noisy at times.  But, we also work hard and my students know when it is time to be quiet and get to work.  These 2 procedures are working well for me.  The thing I like best about these procedures is that I don't have to say anything -  it is all non-verbal and very easy.

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