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National Orchestra Festival
New Ideas and Old Reminders for the New School Year
As teachers prepare for the new school year, it is important to reflect on current ideologies and strategies and to search for methods of improvement. New ideas and old reminders can be invaluable when building and nurturing a string program...
The Right Words at the Right Time
I think that, as teachers, we all can recall moments of epiphany when a word, phrase, image, analogy, parable, or some other linguistic form that we uttered to our students clicked with them, and "they got it!" Not only did they get it, but they got it immediately, and could execute the skill or technique relatively easily...
Easing into Vibrato
Some students are able to produce a beautiful vibrato seemingly without effort while others struggle, working to produce a relaxed motion. It is much easier to teach a relaxed vibrato early than to correct a tense vibrato later. But when should vibrato instruction start?
Contact Point Technique
These exercises are easy to implement at all levels and take very little time during an orchestra rehearsal or private lesson. I have found that when I teach these contact point exercises to my young orchestra students, they are able to immediately apply the technique when they play…
Strategies for Improving the Intonation of Your Orchestra
Orchestra directors who address tone production, intonation, and rhythmic precision as important priorities in rehearsal will greatly improve the sound of their orchestras. Of these three areas, fixing poor intonation can be the most challenging to address because it requires tremendous patience and ongoing attention from both director and students.…
Fostering Effective and Enjoyable Practice
While learning to play an instrument requires regular practice, distinguished pedagogues and research suggest there is often a lack of teacher guidance on practicing effectively and efficiently.…
Variations: Building Rhythm and Technique in a Multi-Level Reality
What can you teach beginning string players that will help them continue learning throughout the first year or two? What simple song can withstand a million repetitions and their parents' plea, "Oh, no, not that song again?...
Balance Training for Musicians
Of all the skills we teach as musicians, feeling is one of the most challenging. To encourage the emotional side of feeling, a teacher can create storylines and invoke images or colors, but how do you teach a student what a supported body or bow arm feels like?…
Ways to Do More Than Just Survive Your First Year of Teaching
An undergraduate music education professor once told a class of future music educators that the ideal job for first-year teachers was in a program that need to be rebuilt. His reasoning: anything a new teacher can do, as long as they do it correctly, is a step in the right direction. …
Help! I Can Teach Music, but How Do I Get My Students to Sit Still and Listen?
Much thought has gone into preparing new teachers to develop effective classroom management skills. Programs in music education address this issue by asking students to read about it, reflect on it, write about it, discuss it, observe master teachers demonstrating it, and ultimately try their hand at it during student teaching. But this simply isn't enough …
Advancing Strategies for Teaching Orchestras to Tune Themselves
Consider this: The only daily one-on-one instruction many students receive is the moment the teacher takes to tune their instruments. If teachers took only a few extra seconds with each child, student playing positions and tone quality would improve greatly over the course of a year. And with better …
Motivational Teaching Tools
During my first several years of teaching, I noticed a big motivational shift between fourth and fifth grade strings students. The fourth grade students found the instruments new and exciting and the lessons really interesting. However, once they graduated from the fourth grade and started to participate in fifth …
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Need repertoire ideas for eclectic styles?
Use this free resource:
Eclectic Styles String Orchestra, Grades 1-5
(Adobe PDF File)