Middle School strings and winds together
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I am starting a new position in which I will be teaching strings, winds and percussion together in grades 6-12. The school is rather small–I have about 45 students in 6th grade (beginning year of instrumental instruction), 30 in 7th grade, then the 8th grade is grouped with the high schoolers for a total of about 45 (our graduation requirements make it difficult for students to continue orchestra through high school…)
I need help!! Teaching beginning instruction with 45 students in the room every single day is challenge enough, but in my mind there is an entirely different pedagogical structure to teaching winds and percussion than teaching strings. Have any of you ever taught in the same situation? Having the 8-12 ensemble combined isn’t that bad since good music is written for full orchestra for that level, but I am having difficulty finding beginning music that is beginner-friendly for a combined ensemble (either the strings have to learn low 2nd finger too early or the winds have to learn sharp keys too early). Any advice would be wonderful!! Thank you!
It works! It is crazy, but it works. I have been doing exactly this for my students in grades 6 – 8 for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, you do have to make a sacrifice. I have been very successful using the Standard of Excellence book 1 to start my band/orch group. I will not transpose the viola part to alto clef (even though I have started to do so). My violins can play from the oboe book, cello can play the baritone bc book, and my basses can use the electric bass part (you’ll have to adjust the fingerings for the double bass). As the group gains experience, you can start to introduce first position for violins and others. Until then, Eb and other half position fingerings are OK. Give it a try. Good luck.
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