Re: So I teach orchestra now?
Posted by MS bandorch on 5/8/2021, 7:02 pm, in reply to "So I teach orchestra now? "
I haven't taken over a program, but I have experience with being assigned to assist with my middle school orchestra program over half of my career plus assisting with 5th grade strings. It was a bit of a shock at first, but I caught on very quickly. Here's what I can suggest to you: |
-I do not know what grade levels you are teaching, but just like in the band world, see if you can find an accomplished orchestra director that can serve as a mentor throughout the year. They can help guide you as to the curriculum and checkpoints throughout the year.
-As with string pedagogy, the same expectations apply as to finger position and posture that we would expect in the band world. When working with beginners, I never started with the bow. We work on being able to identify the strings with the correct letter names and how to correctly pluck the notes with written letters or with notes on the staff. We use the Essential Elements book and make sure the kids can successfully pluck the notes of the first several pages. Once they are comfortable playing the open strings, plus the fingerings of first position (first finger, second finger, third finger for violin and viola) (first, second, fourth for cello) (bass is tricky because it involves shifting), then we slowly add the bow and emphasize that nothing changes in the left hand once we add the bow. Then we practice with open string exercises and play the earlier lines in the EE book.
-With music theory, it's a little easier than band because there's no transpositions to worry about. Basses and cellos will read the same notes, violin will be like reading flute/oboe part, you'll just need to be accustomed to alto clef for viola.
-Rent an instrument (or use a school instrument) and practice on your own. Knowing where the notes are on the fingerboard is key. I've used "Don't Fret" finger board tape and it has helped us greatly in the earlier stages. Over time, the students will build muscle memory on where to place the fingers based on the desired pitches. Learning how to tune the instruments was not as challenging for me. I stick with using a KORG tuner with a clip on the bridge. My co-worker is a master at tuning by ear with the McAdams on A440 and by 5ths/4ths, but I haven't gotten there yet! Haha. You'll need to know when to use the fine tuners versus using the pegs.
-Learn from a mentor on how to change a string so that you do not have to send it to the shop every time you need that changed.
-Orchestra is very visual driven. If the bows are not in the same direction, it's not correct (unless stated or notated otherwise). Emphasize when to start at the frog or when to start at the tip. Understanding how to play the bow in a downward fashion from the elbow versus from the shoulder will help keep the bow straight between the fingerboard and the bridge and eliminate the cowboy "yeehaw" arm swing.
-Using the bow and making sure that I only played one string took time and practice. I was playing a LOT of double stops at first because I wasn't careful of my bow angle.
-Last but not least, just like woodwind instruments, orchestra instruments are VERY sensitive to drastic temperature changes. If the room gets very cold, the pegs will get loose and the strings will get very out of tune. I've seen it where it gets so hot in the room that the glue gets melted and the instrument came apart (full size bass in its gig bag) :-(
Hope this helps!!