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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Freeze dance rehearsal game for unified bowing


This week I wanted my orchestra 2 (2nd year) orchestra students to work on unifying bow strokes.  We watched a performance from TwoSet violin where they played a duet and their bowing very well matched.  Even while playing different parts/notes, their bow strokes were unified: (watch just the first part when they were using full size violins).  We also talked about tone and how to get the most sound from our matter the size.

We talked about the importance of unified bow strokes and having everyone use the same amount of bow as well as matching bow placement, weight, speed. etc.  To practice the skill, I selected short one measure rhythms from our concert music.  I then used a YouTube FREEZE dance video to practice each rhythm:

For example, all students should play one note - low A.  They all perform the same rhythm over and over (on low A) using the same bow strokes/same amount of bow until the video says to STOP/FREEZE.  Once frozen, all students check to see if they are in the same part of the bow as everyone else.  I paused the video as everyone froze.  I then demonstrated a new rhythm for the next portion of the freeze dance, so we worked on 6 different rhythms total.

This game worked really well to help students match bowing, be aware of others in the ensemble, and master rhythms from our music.  After playing this game, my students sounded much more unified in their concert music.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

St Patrick's Day in Orchestra


I don't normally celebrate St. Patrick's day, but my students have been working so hard to learn their music I feel like it's time for a Friday Fun Day game.  This game can really be modified to be played at any time, but a leprechaun theme makes it a little extra'll see why.  :)

This game takes very little prep work.  I already know the passages of music that have been difficult for students to master.  I created a few slides with note sequences from our concert music, but after those slides, I'll be having students play certain measures from their parts.  Here's how to play!

1. Make a wheel with 'leprechaun dares.'  These are things the teacher or a student volunteer will do IF students are allowed to spin the wheel.  I make wheels at

Here are my leprechaun dares:

  • Skip around the room
  • Open the door and yell "I love Leprechauns!"
  • Dance to some Irish music for 30 seconds.
  • Walk to the office and tell them you've lost your gold.
  • Say something in an Irish accent.
  • Pass out gold coins to stellar students as they play correctly...
  • Direct the orchestra like a leprechaun
  • Try to distract the group as they play. If you see a mistake, you can take their gold coins.
  • Jump up and click your heels together while yelling, "It's an orchestra life for me!".
  • Find a leprechaun friend. Give them a headband to wear for the rest of the day.
  • Pick someone NOT wearing green dance with you. If they do it, give them a green necklace.
  • It's your lucky day! As students play, leave suckers on the seats of students who have great posture/position.

Here's a link to my wheel:

2. The whole class or a certain section will be called to to play specific measures as chosen by the teacher.  If they play correctly, the wheel can be spun and all can enjoy watching the student volunteer or teacher (as the'leprechaun') do the dare.  If not played correctly, the class will rehearse and fix the measures, but they will not get to spin the wheel.

3.  To make this extra funny, the teacher or the student volunteer can dress up in a costume.  I happen to have this hilarious costume already...

4.  I stopped by Hobby Lobby to buy a few extra props for the game:  Gold coins for the 'leprechaun' to pass out to stellar students, shamrock necklaces to pass out to students NOT wearing green, and festive green headbands for selected students to wear during some of the dares.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Top Tech Hacks for orchestra teachers - time to sign up!

I just finished teaching Top Tech Hacks for orchestra teachers to learn how to create their own resources/worksheets/assessments and it was AWESOME! Can't wait to do it again. My first class sold out in less than 24 hours. Don't miss out! Here's a link to my next class!