Reply To: High School Orchestra

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Pacing is one of the biggest differences with beginners versus high school. I find that high energy and lots of rote learning get the kids playing. Obviously the students are there to play their instruments. Make sure you instruct less and they play more. Keep your comments clear and concise and repeat play. Here is a sample of how elementary goes:
I always have a “bell ringer” activity on the smart board before class, take care of checking practice logs and tuning with elementary before the start of class. When I begin formal instruction, I always jump on the podium, grab my violin and say “good morning!” I except an energetic response with students sitting up with good posture (My students are trained with this response as I have taught them how to react when a director steps up on the podium). I start with the open string cycle and/or bowing exercises with a scale. I go through demonstrating difficult spots in the music we are learning and have them echo and repeat. The students are constantly playing or listening to my demo and responding. If it is a good class, we can get through 2 pages in the method book or 3 fiddle tunes as we are working on right now.
High school because of block pacing is different:
Class Begins with tuning. 15-20 minute warm up related to the focus of the day. 20-30 minute rehearsal of each piece we are working on is typical. We have sectionals more often when learning new pieces. We try to have weekly playing assessments either live or video recorded. When working with high school students, I tend to try to connect with their mood and alter my pacing with that. If it’s a slow Monday, I might stop after warm up and ask them to do some listening. If we are rehearsing well with a piece, we may continue longer than 30 minutes rehearsing, or we may record sections and playback. Programming your music is also one of the most important parts of instructing high schoolers as well…but that’s too much to write in this post.