Reply To: 50 Middle Schoolers!
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I am currently in my senior year of college and I am getting the opportunity to observe a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade orchestra once a week (each class having over 40 students). They are the most disciplined classrooms I have ever observed! The teacher has established the routine of being in your seats, tuning with a tuner, then moving on to the “vibrato exercise” immediately in this sequence when the bell rings for class. The students follow the sequence and occasionally need a reminder that they should not be talking and working on their exercise.
The “vibrato exercise” is when students practice the hand motions of vibrato silently until the teacher gives further instructions. This is a great way to get the classroom quiet and focused on their vibrato fundamentals. This exercise can easily get transferred over to your repertoire that you are working on in rehearsal. This technique can provide good classroom management for the start of class. There are always those students that need help tuning at the start of class, and this exercise gives you the opportunity to assist those students while everyone is quietly working. (Also, you can take attendance in peace!)
Another aspect that I noticed about this teacher was he made it clear from day one of classes that when he is on the podium there is no talking. Some days there are slight problems with talking but the teacher simply has to point to the “Expectation Poster” and students immediately stop talking!
I wish you the best of luck!