Reply To: Implementing my ideas

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While I agree that chair placement is a great motivator for driving your students to success, be careful when you are splitting the violins into I and II sections. If you put all of the strong players into the Violin I part, your seconds are going to struggle immensely, and this could cause more headaches than having a very strong violin I section is worth. Put a couple of your stronger players into the seconds. It shouldn’t be split 50/50 of course, but maybe a quarter of your better players should sit with the seconds each season. This will help the balance of talent in the ensemble. Also, rotate the sections, give every player a chance at playing both parts frequently. They will get better by experiencing the harder music than having them only on the second parts their entire time in the orchestra.
Also, the chamber group is a fantastic idea. If it could become a focal point of the ensemble, it could lead to more groups, and students will work harder just for a shot to make it into the chamber group.
As for implementing these ideas, villasurdag290 has great suggestions. You want to make sure they are well balanced with both their scales (major and natural minor), their performance pieces, and intonation. If you give the students a list as soon as possible with just 2 scales, an excerpt of something reasonable, and maybe some sight reading, you and your co teacher could knock most of the kids out in a week or two.

Ryan Critchfield
Kent State University Student, Music Education