Reply To: New to teaching Begining Strings

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This post is a bit older, but I hope your school year is going well!

I’m currently a music education student who is very interested in teaching strings sometime in the near future. My biggest advice for you would be to remember that most of the technique for all of the different instruments is essentially the same, but with slight modifications to accommodate the differences between violins/violas and cellos/basses. In a beginning string group, I think it is very important to emphasize good technique more than anything else. Starting the students off right will set them up for success later in life. Don’t let poor posture or funky fingerings slide by! Don’t let your cellists play like violinists (in the way they position their left hands) and don’t let your violinists play like cellists (with the way they hold the bow).

One nice thing about starting in a heterogeneous string classroom is that all of the instruments share at least 3 strings. Essential Elements works in D Major on the D string for the longest time. Don’t feel like you need to stay with that sequence! Have the students transpose up or down a string. Play around with tonality and play some of those D Major tunes in D minor by lowering the third. This is a great way to introduce and teach low 2 (or just plain old 2 for lower strings) fingerings early on and a great way to get students to be able to recognize differing tonalities.

Now that you’ve had the program up and running for awhile, are you facing any new difficulties that you did not anticipate when you first started? How are your students progressing? What kinds of things are you doing to make orchestra fun and exciting?