There are so many techniques and concepts that can be taught in the scope of a year. Method books are are great at keeping classrooms moving in a linear fashion, but the primary flaw is when the ensemble literature performed has notes, rhythms, and many other concepts that would require to jump around whichever series of books being used if the teacher solely “goes by the book” in a literal sense.
For a concise example of my thought process, we will use a first or second year string orchestra class.
- String players most often begin learning in the key of D major on the A and D strings for a large part of the first book in a series called “Essential Elements.”
- Grade appropriate literature for first and second year students goes beyond the limited range of 8 pitches and has many more keys that can be played with similar finger patterns.
- Some, but not all of these keys and finger patterns are present in the book
- There is a large amount of concert literature that will be missed out on or a struggle if specific concepts are not addressed directly and from the start. What do I do about it?
- Make a common practice of creating my own technique or concept sheets that saves precious classroom time.
This is a sample of a straight-forward exercise sheet that I wrote for teaching all 4 strings on the staff. The violas and cellos play on their C and G strings creating 2-part harmony with the violins and basses for student interest.