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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mid-year Assessment for Beginning Orchestra

This is a little assessment that I gave to my beginning classes for bellwork around mid-term to make sure they are on track with notes, fingerings, and rhythms.  I have been really trying to target students who need help and not let students fall behind and these assessments help a lot.

Jumping on the Meme Bandwagon

Memes seem to be all over facebook and pinterest and I finally decided to try to make a few for my class.  Students get a kick out of these and it's fun that you can create your own at   This is a really easy way to add a little something to your bulliton boards and see if your students notice.  :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Simple New Arrangements for String Orchestra

When I was little, I lived in Terrington St. Clement in England and I have fond memories of gathering with all of the students at my little school and singing songs together.  My favorite song was 'Lord of the Dance' - which is the same tune as 'Simple Gifts.'  That is why I picked that tune for some easy beginning orchestra arrangements.  I just completed 2 versions - one is easy, and the other is even easier.

Last week, I had my advanced orchestra sightread this little piece, and it sounded pretty good - it worked really well for a sight-reading activity.  You can find the score and parts for these arrangements totally FREE at my website:

Here is a sample of the 'harder' version:

And this is the really simplified version:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Yet another fingering chart

I thought I would quickly share this fingering chart I made.  I have been loving my dry erase packets and have been using them a lot in my class.  (You can read about them HERE)  I have a paper with a large staff inside my pockets right now, and I am going to use this fingering chart on the opposite side to help me teach new notes and to check for understanding.  I realize that I did not leave a spot for all possible naturals and accidentals.  That is because my beginners have tapes on their instruments and I want students to see how to find notes in relation to their tapes.  If I ask them to label a C natural on the A string, I want them to see that the note is NOT on a tape and it requires an adjustment.  Students will draw their own circles for those notes.

Friday, February 6, 2015

NEW Note-Reading Matching Game for the Orchestra Classroom!

 Let's face it.  Students don't usually love practicing flashcards.  I was thinking about how I can get students to practice flashcards for new notes that we have been learning in class, and the idea for this game popped into my head.  It's really simple and I think more beneficial than practicing  flashcards the old fashioned way.

This is a game that includes a game-board and flashcards for each instrument.  The game-boards are set up just like the fingerboard of the instrument.  Students play the game by placing the flashcard (note) on the correct note name on the fingerboard.  I love it because it allows students to memorize note names while also memorizing where the notes are found on their instruments.

I recommend printing the game-boards and flashcards on cardstock.  I had my TA cut out all of the flashcards and then put one gameboard and one set of flashcards in a manilla envelope to make individual packets.    Now it is very easy to me to pass out  the game and collect them without losing any pieces.

Here is a sample of of what the game looks like.  The set comes with gameboards and flashcard pieces for violin, viola, cello, and bass.  You can purchase the game at my STORE!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Advanced Bow Games

I love bow games because they are fast, easy, and students develop excellent bow holds and bowing skills through the simple games.  About halfway through the year, I tell students that they are ready for the 'Advanced' bow games.  I just made these up, but I feel they are beneficial for developing tone, straight bows, and pre-spicatto technique.  Plus, it's nice to introduce new bow games, since students begin to tire of the same old bow games.

I don't like being on video, but I thought it would be easier to demonstrate these bow games than to describe them.  It was a bit tricky to keep my 5 kids quiet during this video, but they made it.  Unfortunately, our pet bird wouldn't be quiet, so you'll hear an annoying bird in the video.  :)  Also, the sound is pretty quiet and I don't own a decent microphone, but hopefully you will get the idea.  Here is a link to my video explaining my 'Advanced' bow games.