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Saturday, October 29, 2022

Emoji Game for Orchestra


Need a fun rehearsal game?  I like the emoji game because it works for any holiday!  I'm using this game for Halloween.  As an intro to the game, students could watch the following video featuring Hilary Hahn and TwoSet violin playing a game where they have to guess the emotion being played.

In my free online EMOJI ORCHESTRA GAME, students perform the challenge the corresponds to the emoji.  Send one or two students to the hall while the class or the teacher chooses an emoji from the game board.  

Click on the emoji to show the class the challenge that corresponds to that emoji.  Next, click on the emoji to return the screen back to the main game board.

Don't forget to click on the emoji to return back to the main game board!

Have students come in from the hall and have the class perform the challenge using any music your class is working on.    Students from the hall then must guess the emoji based on what they heard.  You can form teams and keep score if you want.


Thursday, October 27, 2022

Teaching Beginners how to TUNE!


I am so excited for tomorrow because my beginners are going to learn how to tune themselves!  I absolutely love it when my students can enter class, set up, and tune without me.  There are a few VSO's in my classes so I'll probably have to help sometimes...but that's better than tuning all 50 in each class!

Here are some resources I have created in Nearpod to teach my students how to tune:  (I'm sharing these with teachers.  You need a Nearpod account.  Slides are editable.)

How to tune lesson 1 

How to tune lesson 2

Rules of tuning

After the Nearpods, I am going to demo how to use a tuner using a FREE online tuner.  I am LOVING this website - lots of great tools for demo in class.  Also I love the rhythm activities...great for sub plans!

Students will then tune their own instruments (with my help of course) using clip on tuners.  I keep one tuner on every music stand.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Things I never thought I have to do as an orchestra teacher


There's probably way more than 5 things!  What am I missing?  I thought of a few more:

  • Tie shoes
  • Give out snacks when students are hungry
  • Make a student cry (I feel so bad if that happens)
  • Break a bridge in half with my bare hands (while trying to fix it)
  • Become my own secretary, graphic designer, curriculum developer, delivery person, purchasing supervisor, inventory manager, etc.
  • See every little toy trinket as a possible teaching aid.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Note-scapes worksheets for music students


Tired of boring worksheets?  These new note-scapes worksheets are fun!  Students get to be creative by creating their own unique rhythms.  Students stretch their skills by figuring out words using notes of the musical alphabet (D scale notes)...all in the style of popular word-game apps.  12 worksheets total in the set:  3 rhythm worksheets, 3 note worksheets for treble clef, 3 note worksheets for alto clef, and 3 note worksheets for bass clef.


Thursday, October 6, 2022



Do you find it a struggle to motivate students to practice?  I personally don't believe in practice records or practice cards.  Instead, I work to motivate students to practice and grade using a variety of assessments and practice challenges.  Years ago, I remember feeling frustrated after a rough rehearsal.  Students were not progressing as quickly as I wanted and I thought, 'If only they would practice at home, everything would be better."  The problem with that thought is this:  A teacher can not control what students do at home.  Homework does not always deliver excellence.  I could try to require practice time, but that would not ensure honest student effort.

I get to work with my students every day for a 50 minute class.  One day per week, I have a 'Flex' day where I devote 20 minutes to help struggling students, hand out missing work, and enrich/extend the learning for students who are on track.  Flex day has become one of my favorite days of the week!  There are so many things do explore.  Students have been composing music on, practicing ear training, and drilling notes and rhythms.  My favorite flex day activity is when students complete a practice assignment in class.  I've witnessed amazing things happening as I guide students through an effective practice experience.  I believe once we teach students HOW to practice and let them EXPERIENCE how their efforts help them PROGRESS, students then become more willing and more motivated to practice on their own.

Here is a FREE sample of a note reading practice exercise.  I grew up in the age of the original Nintendo and used to play Super Mario Bros.  That game was sometimes frustrated because when you made a mistake and ran out of lives, you had to start all over again at level 1!  But I eventually got really good and was able to win the game in one life.  In this exercise, students practice each level.  They are not allowed to move on until they can play the level with no mistakes.  For an ultimate challenge, some students decided to start from the beginning if they made a mistake.  Students enjoyed the activity and it helped them immediately become more fluent in note reading.  As we moved on to rehearsal time, students felt a difference in their playing!  Reading notes was noticeably easier.  They learned that practicing works!  Plus, the notes in the exercise were excerpts from our concert music.  Bonus practice!

Today, I told my students a story about my son who started learning violin at age 4.  We started Suzuki lessons from an excellent teacher with very high standards.  She told us to practice each part of Twinkle 10 times perfectly every day.  My son was not naturally motivated to learn the violin, so it was very hard to get him to practice!  Especially to repeat things 10 times in a row.  I found myself bargaining with him and allowing him to practice only 5 times on each section.  We were stuck on the Twinkles for 2 YEARS!!!!  Finally, I determined I would have him practice the way the teacher requested.  We got up early in the morning and play each section of Twinkle 10 times per day.  After just one week of strict obedience, we returned to the lesson where my son finally played perfectly and was able to pass off the piece.  The teacher exclaimed, "That was amazing!  What's your secret?!  What did you do!"  I was embarrassed to admit, "We finally practiced how you said to practice."  

I showed students this 10 times perfect TORTURE device.  (hahaha) 

 It looks like a game, but it's how you count reps when kids are practicing to encourage them to get to 10.  To make it torture, you return the counter to 1 and start all over if there are any mistakes.  We talked about holding high expectations while practicing because our habits become like cement.  We want to make sure our best playing 'sticks.'  Students then practiced for 15 minutes using the following worksheet.  

Each line is one measure from our various concert pieces.  They were asked to play each measure 10 times and keep track on the counters on the page.  I showed students that playing one measure 10 times really doesn't take very long.  They were excited to try it and they practiced like champions.  Students were able to see how their practice time payed off as we rehearsed our music for the rest of the class period.  When student see they are progressing, they are naturally motived to continue!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Orchestra Inc rehearsal game in Monsters Inc style!


Try this new fun rehearsal game - ORCHESTRA, INC!  Perfect game for the month of October to get rid of any  'scary' sounds/habits coming from your students.  :)

Just click on the number above each door to reveal the challenge behind the door.  Customize the Powerpoint by changing the text to match your pieces and curriculum.