Reply To: Tuning?

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Hello Fellow String Teachers!
Wondering which grade level your beginning students are in? Approximately how many students are particating in the ensemble?

I attended the CMEA workshop today and had the opportunity to chat with other strings teachers. We discussed the issue of tuning beginning string ensembles.

For larger string orchestras, with 40 or more students, some teachers choose to:
1). Use an ongoing “A” provided by an electronic tuner device. Instruments are individually tuned, as students gradually unpack and form a line to enter the orchestra room. Use fine tuners whenever possible!
2). Ask musical parents to come volunteer to assist with tuning process. If school can afford to pay a local private strings teacher to come help, that could work too.

During small group lessons: (supporting what Charles mentioned above, re: investment of time)
Students enjoy playing the game “telephone tuning”. Ask students to stand in a circle. You tune ONE instrument. The second student in the circle plays their “A” string to see if it matches the first students’ already tuned “A” string. The other students in the circle participate by providing a “thumbs up” gesture if they think the second person’s string needs to be made higher, “thumbs down” if string needs to be made lower, and “safe” gesture (baseball) when the 2 “A” stings sound in tune with each other.

The second person sends their newly tuned “A” string to the third person in the circle, and so on all the way around the circle. The last person checks their “A” with the first that you tuned. Hopefully the first and last “A’s” match…then do the same process with “D” strings. If the first and last strings in the circle do not match, ask students to help you find which strings within the circle didn’t match, causing the end of the telephone chain to not match.

If/when your students seem ready to do this, it works well and allows you time to take attendance, etc.
There will be significance to how many students are in the ensemble and what their levels are.
Hope this gives you an idea, if not appropriate for use now, perhaps an activity to consider for future?!