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Re: Moving From Band to Orchestra
I love teaching orchestra! This is my 4th year. It's really not all that different than band- instead of talking about air you talk about bowing, etc. The kids are great, there are no football games or marching. Everyone plays in the same key, and playing concepts are very similar to each other. To answer your questions: When I applied for my job I wasn't very proficient, but I studied, took lessons, and practiced during the summer after I was hired. I continue to study and practice when I can. When you already play an instrument it's not hard to pick up another. I'd say right now I play better than most of my students, but I have some very talented ones that can outplay me. I think it is sometimes an advantage because I am more familiar with the challenges of learning correct bow hold and left hand position because I have been there recently myself. I focus on the violin, but study to understand concepts of the other instruments. Viola and cello have many similarities to violin. Double bass is much different. As for "convincing the principal to hire a non-orchestra person", it is actually very common. There is a shortage or orchestra teachers. Most skilled band players become band directors. Most skilled orchestra players become doctors, etc. Orchestra draws a different type of student. In our town all the private school orchestra directors are woodwind players. Next question- I teach grades 6-12. Most advanced players take lessons, so especially at the beginning you can leave the advanced skills to the private lesson teachers. Developing the correct bow hold and left hand position yourself is the most important skill to work on because even high school players still need reminders and work on that. As you grow as a player yourself you can work on vibrato, spiccato, shifting, etc. But, you can still teach these skills if you haven't mastered them. More resources I'd suggest- Habits of a Successful Orchestra Director by Christopher Selby. Website- orchestraclassroom.com is very helpful. One weakness in orchestras is rhythm, since there is no drum section. Tuning seems to be a debatable topic among orchestra directors. I teach my students to tune their own instruments from the start, using fine tuners. I do all the peg tuning until late middle school. Some orchestra directors don't let their students tune their own instruments until they are older. Tuning instruments is time consuming, and I'd rather them have more playing time during class and the ability for them to fix their tuning at home. Tuning is one of the biggest skills to teach in orchestra. The resources you listed, and the ones I listed have good ideas for teaching tuning. I do lots of "listen, sing, play", drones, having them listen to and critique each other, etc.
You'll love it and find it easier than you think!