Thursday, November 7, 2013

Practice Ideas

Getting into good practice habits is a challenge but very important in learning anything new.

When practicing, here are things you should keep in mind:
*Have specific goal/outline playing time
*Practice in a place where you can focus/quiet spot
*Pick a specific time of day to practice each day
*Practice SLOWLY
*Practice LOUDLY
*Don't practice mistakes; fix them immediately
*Stop practicing when you are too tired to play or can no longer focus(10-30mins for beginners)
*Practice often/consistent (but not necessarily for a great amount of time!)

A playing/practice outline includes:
    1. Warm up, check correct hand positions, bow exercises on each string, D major scale etc
    2.  Review songs, play through songs they've learned or the concert pieces a few times, focus on playing in tune and with correct postures.  Try memorizing the songs,  the more comfortable a student is with a song the less nervous they'll be when playing in a concert setting.   (Idea:  roll a dice for each song and the number rolled is how many time they'll practice that song.)  Also, try playing with the CD accompaniment.  
    3.  New song,  play through any difficult measures first, slowly, until their fingers recognize the note patterns.  Then play through the entire song a few times.
    4.  Discovery time, students may want to explore different sounds their instruments make, play some made up tunes or fun familiar songs.

Talk with your child about how the muscles and brain are strengthen when doing something over and over.  Some times beginners just need to get past that struggling stage of learning something new before they start to see/feel the enjoyment of being able to play and instrument.  Stick with it and be patient.  Take the time to have your child play songs for you and be encouraging with their progress.  Have rewards for practicing.  Remind your child that they're part of an orchestra team and everyone needs to play their part well to have a good sounding team!
Your know your child best, find what works best for them.  GOOD LUCK and THANK-YOU!

*Learning to play tips from FamilyEducation online:
Practice Tips for Elementary-School Kids

  • Help your child set up a special place at home to play the instrument.
  • Establish a time each day to play. Some children are at their best in the morning, before school. Some parents set a time after the evening bath when the child is relaxed, but not tired.
  • Consider using the phrase "playing time" rather than "practice time."
  • If possible, be a positive part of your child's playing time. Sit with your child while he plays and ask, "Show me what you're learning." Or, consider learning to play the instrument with your child.
  • Praise your child for each step forward.
  • Never make negative remarks about how your child's playing sounds. It takes time and effort to produce musical sounds.
  • Encourage other family members to applaud the child's efforts. Positive attention is a great motivator.
  • Remember that there are always peaks and valleys in the learning process. You and your child should expect times of discouragement, accept them, and focus on the positive fact that she's learning to make music. Remind her that everything worth doing takes time and effort.
  • Provide positive role models. Bring your child to hear amateur or professional musicians perform. Take your child to movies that show musicians in a positive light, such as "Music of the Heart."
  • When seeking private lessons, find a qualified teacher you can talk to easily. Ask about the teacher's philosophy of education, and ask to talk to some of the teacher's current students or their parents. Make sure your child is comfortable with the teacher.

  • Friday, September 20, 2013

    Lessons for students

    Let me know if you are interested in instrument lessons for your child.  I have a list of private teachers that are accepting new students.  Lessons usually cost between $10-$15 per half hour lesson.   There is also the Suzuki strings group classes on Wednesdays evenings at SUU  for $70 a semester.  They have already started classes but are still looking for some more students.  If your child is serious about excelling with their instrument these are great options. You can find more information at

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Our first week

      This week we did introductions and went over the class disclosure.  I need all the students to have an orchestra sign up sheet with a phone number and email if possible.  Also, your child should have brought home a green sheet home that explains a few things needed for orchestra and classroom etiquette.  Please, sign the back page and return that to me by Thurs. 12th.  If you don't have a green paper, email me and I will send you it as an attachment. 
      We also talked about how an orchestra sets up and came up with a class set up plan.  Then we talked about time signatures and how many beats each note gets.  We also counted/clapped out some different rhythms.  We will do a lot of counting and clapping and review rhythms every class time.
      Next Tues. 10th  we will learn note names for the 3 different clefs.
      Thurs. 12th students need to bring there instruments.  I will be putting finger tape on the fingerboard and tune the instruments.  Also, we will talk about instrument care and correct positions.  Please, contact me if you are having difficulty finding an instrument for your student or if they won't have one ready for Thurs.

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    Visiting the 5th graders

    I had a great time meeting with the 5th grade classes and introducing myself and the 5th grade orchestra class.  We talked about the four instruments that make up a string orchestra, violin, viola, cello and bass. About practicing individual parts to make our orchestra team sound great together. There are usually many violins students, we would love to have violas and cellos too for some balance.  If your student is unsure about which instrument to play, let's talk.  The students will need to come up with their own instrument as the elementary schools don't have string instruments to use.  We will also be using a book: Essential Elements 2000 book 1.  If your child is interested in music and being part of the amazing musical groups at CMS and CHS, 5th grade orchestra will be a great place to start their musical journey of being part of an ensemble.  Please email me with any questions or concerns or if you need a sign up sheet and I will email that to you.  We will begin meeting as a class on September 3rd but will not be using instruments until September 12.  The students will bring their instruments to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  They can be put in their teacher's office during the day until class time.
    Places to look for instruments:
        Whittlesticks, Inc
        535 S. Main Street Suite 5
    Talk with Luke Heaton, he makes instruments and sells them. Has a lot of knowledge about string instruments.  He sometimes has used instruments to sell.

        Cedar Music Store
        602 S. Main
    They sell instruments or have rental plans.

    Also, ask friends or family members if they have an instrument that's not being used.  You can look at pawn shops or yard sales or online.  Also, St. George has a couple of music stores: 4-String Violin Shop (453-628-7042) and St. George School of Music (435-674-2880)  Be aware of the quality, stay away from instruments that have cracks, pegs are slipping and don't hold the string in tune or have a hum or buzzing noise when playing them.

    Saturday, August 17, 2013


    Welcome to 5th Grade Orchestra!  We'll be meeting on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons:
            East: 12:10 to 12:50
            South: 1:30 to 2:15
            North 2:45 to 3:30
    We'll start meeting September 3rd.
    This class is open to any 5th grader who is interested in learning to play a musical instrument (violin, viola, cello or bass) in an ensemble (group).  We will start at the beginning with rhythm and note reading, how to follow a conductor, and fingering and bow position for your instrument.  We will move as quickly or slowly as we can as a class.  It takes a lot of teamwork and individual work to play in an orchestra and I hope that student will be determined to take the time and put in the effort to learn to play their individual parts.  Because putting together different rhythms and sounds to harmonize into a beautiful masterpiece is an AMAZING experience!