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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Rounds for Beginning Orchestra Warm Ups and more


Last year, I noticed I was getting in a bit of a 'warm-up rut.'  I kept doing the same old warm-up routine and was needing some variety.  It was time to re-energize warm-up time with something new and fun.  I started using rounds as warm-ups and my students loved it!  Students enjoy learning rounds. They are quick to learn because all parts are unison. When ready to try as a round, there are so many possibilities!

Rounds are very versatile.  Here are a few ways to use rounds in your classroom:

1. While in unison, you can focus on intonation, rhythm, and bowing skills. Once students are ready, divide into 2 parts and try the round.  Beginners especially love to hear the new harmonies and it motivates them to keep playing.  The round adds depth and helps students listen/tune pitches. Students must carefully count and maintain a steady tempo. These are important ensemble skills that will strengthen your group as you move to more complex ensemble music.

2. When dividing into 2 parts, use a variety of combinations: upper strings/lower strings, stand partners, rows, birthdays Jan-June/July-Dec, Marvel vs. DC, etc.

3. Rounds are great to use for student group projects. Allow students to form small groups and learn a round together to perform for the class. Rounds provide a basic foundation for future chamber work. Students can form small groups using any instrument combination and easily work together since parts are unison. Students can creatively create arrangements/variations of the round to perform.

4.  Rounds are a fun way for students to practice together! Encourage students to get together with friends to learn and harmonize together.

5.   Rounds can be easily performed. There are a variety of ways to arrange a round to work in a concert setting. (For example, play one time in unison, play as a round, one section plays melody, play as round with different grouping of students,.etc.)

6.  Many simple rounds are played on only 2 strings: D and A. Try having students play each round on the G and D strings.

7.  Try changing the key signatures to create a different sound and rehearse alternate finger patterns. Teach advanced skills like shifting/fingering options as a way to differentiate in a mixed class setting.

I just finished writing a resource called "Rounds for Warm-Ups" available HERE.   Traditional rounds are included as well some some original compositions.  This resource contains a Conductor Score, Rote pages for each round, Parts for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass. 62 pages total.  16 rounds included.  BONUS: Access to the rounds on google slides is included to use as a visual while teaching.   

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