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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

After the Final Concert - what to do that last few days of rehearsal

My final concert was last night.  Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what to do those last few days of rehearsal.  Today I passed out music for NEXT school year.  It helped students get really excited for next year because now they love the music that I selected and they are excited for what is to come.  This could also be a great way to retain students - keep them looking forward to fun opportunities.  We listened to each piece and sightread through everything.  I told students to listen to recordings and practice the music over the summer.  Students who do this will be used in a leadership role next year.  I have many students who want to step up and be leaders - and they were happy to receive this assignment.

Tomorrow we are going to have BLAST FROM THE PAST day where we will play few pieces from earlier in the year and from previous years.  Students are super excited to play through some of their old favorites and it will be interesting to see if they remember everything.  I think this is a great use of the last few days of school.  :)  It keeps students working and I feel that a regular rehearsal routine keeps everybody in line.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A stroke of inspiration - helping students play on the tips of their fingers

Today during our warm-ups I was checking left hand position and reminding students about playing on the tips of their fingers to achieve better intonation.  One of my students raised her hand and told me that she cut her finger and had a band-aid wrapped around the top of her finger so she was forced stay on her fingertips.  Genius!  I got some scotch tape and I let students try it - we wrapped a few fingertips with tape and they played while focusing on excellent left hand position.  You should have seen the awesome position I was seeing!  Many students said the tape helped them focus on their fingertips and play more precisely in tune.

In the past when teaching about playing on the tips of the fingers I would draw a little dot on the thumb side corner of each finger (for violin/viola) and students would try to make that dot touch the tapes.

Some teachers draw 'claws' on the fingernail to help students aim the nail/tip of the finger straight down to the tapes.  These things help, but I think the tape works even better.  Students with smaller fingers may need the tape trimmed to make sure they can bend the 1st knuckle.  Flat fingers cause so many position problems and they kill a student's ability to play in tune.  This tape method helps get kids to the fingertips and it fixes a lot of the collapsed wrist problems.  (It's hard to stay on the tops of the fingers with a collapsed wrist!)  I'm so glad to have another way to teach proper left hand position!  Plus tape is cheap and easy to find at any school.  :)