Reply To: Out of tune players

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When classrooms have that many younger students it can definitely be a challenge to get them all to sit still when tuning!! Especially with the winter weather up north where I am, there is just no hope for those cellos to stay in tune from one rehearsal to the next. However, it’s imperative that students play on instruments that are in tune so that they being to build those aural skills with pitch matching and adjusting to the ensemble. It might take a little extra time and a little extra patience, but try tuning by having all students play at once. Students should be seated in their rehearsal seats, and you will indicate to them which string to play (I tend to hold up fingers – 1 for A, 2 for D, etc). All students play, for example A, and you walk around the classroom and fine tune as necessary. This way students get practice with using the bow, back and forth, practicing hitting only one string at a time. In the case of a severely out of tune instrument (it always is the cellos, isn’t it?), go to those students first. Once the A string is in tune, move to D, and repeat the process. You can choose to do E and C separately or together. With this method, no student is sitting idly, and you can have them practice blending their sound into the sound of the ensemble. Also, this gives you a chance to adjust posture, instrument position, and bow hair tightness right at the beginning of the rehearsal.
For those instruments whose pegs never seem to stay put, try investing in some “peg dope” or “peg compound.” This stuff works wonders in getting the pegs to stick (and also to turn! How strange science is!)!