Reply To: New to teaching Begining Strings

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Hello powersc982!,

I am also, like gruber108, currently a music education student. I, also, think it is extremely important that posture and technique be one of your first priorities. Many orchestral students get away with slouching, bad posture, poor hand positions, and improper bow use. At the beginning of each rehearsal, I recommend checking all of these important things. Students are sitting up straight, sitting on the edge of their chair, and have their feet flat on the floor. Left hand thumb should never be sticking up or out. It should be relaxed and promote good hand position and finger-extensions.

Bow-check position is a great way to check your students right hands. Have them hold the weight of the bow in their left hand at the balance point about 1/3 down from the frog. Shake out and place/drop their hand onto the frog. There should be no tension or unnecessary gripping. Check all of your students visually and correct as needed.

Four main elements to producing a good sound: Contact, weight, speed, and hair. Contact is where the bow is touching the string in relation to the bridge and the fretboard. Weight is how much pressure the bow has against the string. More obvious, speed is how fast the bow is moving across the string. Last, but not least, hair is how much of the bow hair is vibrating against the string. These are your key ingredients to sound production and sound quality. Do not let your students get away with using only part of their bow. It is extremely important that orchestral players learn to use all of their bow with adequate speed.

There are pedagogical ways to help with building these fundamental techniques. One example is the use of straws in the f holes. If you place two straws or bridge one straw in each f -hole this helps the students with bow contact. They can play on a consistent part of the string by playing against or next to the two straws.

I hope this helps, and good luck on the rest of the year!