Reply To: Out of tune players

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As a flute player who has yet to take any string methods courses, the only experience I have with strings is playing in Kent State’s orchestra the past two years. I absolutely love the idea of the snake and radar game! I know some beginning string programs like to use a loud tuner drone to start class. While this pitch is loud and can cut through to the entire ensemble, I find these to be unrealistic pitches to tune to. Instead, I would try to play a chord on the piano, or just a simple note on a string instrument. This allows the students to tune to a correct pitch with the correct timbre. It’s important for students to play in tune, but also to be able to blend their sound.

I would also recommend playing a pitch you want your students to tune to, and prior to having them tune their instruments, they should sing or hum the pitch. This allows them to internalize and feel what exactly their instrument should sound like. With advanced students/ensembles, you could have section leaders, or really any single person in a section play a pitch. You could have the students inform you if the student playing is in tune, sharp, or flat. If the student is in tune, have the class sing the pitch prior to tuning. If the student playing was out of tune, help them become in tune either with a different student’s assistance, or with your own. From here, the class may sing the pitch and tune their instruments. I think it is important for this exercise to be done with all of the different sections. This allows students to adjust to hearing different timbres and octaves.