Reply To: Out of tune players

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I agree with gruberl108- younger students (and, sometimes, also older students) tend to get impatient while tuning, because it takes so long. But without instruments in tune from the beginning, the students won’t be able to play in tune for the rest of rehearsal. Though students can begin with tape fingerings and tuners for every string, try to wean students off of these crutches by middle school.

Firstly, high school students need to be able to tune their instruments once their “A” string is in tune. If they can’t accomplish this, then asking them to play fingered pitches in tune on their instruments will be quite difficult. Once students are able to tune their strings, this indicates that they have learned how to tune perfect fourth and fifth intervals (depending on which string instrument). Use a string instrument to demonstrate how to tune other intervals, such as octaves using open strings, find where false harmonics are for fourth fingers, find harmonics for higher positions, etc. Encourage students to practice with a piano, keyboard, or a drone from a tuner. Always warm up with something that the students don’t have to read- if students are playing scales, for instance, even with difficult rhythms, their eyes will have less to take in than if they had music in front of them.

Best of luck! Keeping strings in tune during rehearsals, especially in winter months, is quite a challenge.