Reply To: Out of tune players

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All of these ideas are great suggestions. The snake game sounds like a great exercise and a fun one for the kids. Also the drone idea that kengerer outlined is absolutely vital in my opinion.

The best advice I got when I was learning about better intonation is to get rid of the strobe tuner as soon as possible. For a young ensemble, a tuner can be very useful for trouble shooting some notes, but should not be used for every single problem note, and should be abandoned as soon as the students start to develop a better ear. I think to develop a better ear, they should play scales over a drone, both major and natural minor scales. Also, playing scales in a round by section can help a lot, as they will work and listen to each other as a group to get the right pitch. This will also make them more comfortable with each other and teach them to listen across the ensemble.

These exercises will help their ears immensely, but you of course teach proper hand shapes and techniques to build consistency with their tuning, while stressing that even though their fingers may be close, they need to roll their fingers slightly to get in tune with the rest of the group.

Ryan Critchfield
Kent State University Student, Music Education