Violin group class idea?

Na Yang said: Aug 30, 2011
 4 posts

I am a Suzuki violin teacher in Hilton Head SC. I mostly teach private student. Would like to get some ideas of group class. like games.
Could anyone tell me some group games? and tell me your experience for teaching the group. I feel want to observe someone teaching the group, but no chance right now.
Please let me know.
Thank you

Paula Bird said: Aug 30, 2011
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
404 posts

It would help us if you answer a few questions first:
how many students?
what ages?
what level of playing?
what are your studio goals for your students overall?
do you have any global or universal problems in your studio that you would like to address as a group? (saves time)

After you answer these questions, we can help you better to set up a group plan for your studio.

There are many resources available:

Jennifer Burton’s book:

Carolyn McCall’s book (a classic!):

and many other possibilities, including information from the SAA: (search results for Suzuki group ideas)

Hope this helps and looking forward to hearing from you.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio (blog) (podcast)

Jacob Litoff said: Aug 31, 2011
 Violin, Cello, Viola
Millis, MA
48 posts

How do you get parents to agree to let kids play in the group classes. When I insist on having the group classes, the parents won’t even let the kids take lessons with me. Parents think that group classes are a waste of time and money. they don’t even want their kids to play in the school orchestra in their towns for they think that with all the other kids being too much beginners it would be a waste of time for their child to be playing in it. They want their child to learn violin for it is good for child development. To them playing with others is pointless. Listening to CDS is pointless They just want the child to have experience playing the violin every day while they are a child. Appreciation of music has nothing to do with that according to them. If I demand too much…they quit with me, or heck , they wont’ even start!

Na Yang said: Aug 31, 2011
 4 posts

Dear Paula,

I started the groups, it’s more affordable to the parents. They are taking the group only, no private lessons for the group kids.

I have a group with 5 children. A kid is faster, is in beginning of Lightly Row, others are slower, still on Twinkles. I know some games from the book you suggested, and the ideas from the Suzuki Violinist. But after using those games, I feel now I don’t have new games for them anymore. I know called “one behind”, which I clap first, and they followed me after. Do you have other games that is fun for them to do?

I think my attitude needs to be right, I always want to be fun for them, but that’s not possible, right? because they need to do techniques too, those are not always fun. I think I am just too nervous of loosing them, and need more experience to teach the group class.

I will want to know how to teach the group that is larger than 10 students? could you give me some ideas for the large groups if possible?

Thank you very much for your help


Deanna said: Aug 31, 2011
 90 posts

Jacob—It can be very difficult getting the parents on board with group class. In fact I did just have one family switch out of my program into a non-suzuki one just because I require my families to attend group lessons and it was too much of a commitment for them. Never mind the fact that the daughter loved playing with the other kids…
Anyway, every year I have a week of lessons just for the parents and have them come without their kids, in groups. Among other things, I talk about the importance of group lessons—how it’s motivating for the kids, they learn skills they can’t learn on their own, like leading and following; listening to self and others; I teach theory and ensemble skills that I don’t teach in the private lesson because it’s not as efficient; that kids who attend group play WAAAY better than those who don’t, they have a lot more confidence in their playing and tend to enjoy playing a lot more, plus groups are fun!
The violin is a very social instrument and more often than not is played with other instruments so why not learn how to play with others? There are a lot of life lessons and skills going on in group lessons.
I also have a clause in my policies that only those who attend group lessons can perform in the group portions of recitals. That has helped too!
There will always be some people who just don’t want Suzuki—and that’s fine. It’s better not to have them in your studio if they aren’t happy and you’re frustrated trying to convince them of the value of group lessons, listening, appreciating music, etc.
I’m more and more convinced that parent education is the way to go with getting the parents on board. Good luck in your studio!

Deanna said: Aug 31, 2011
 90 posts

Any kind of follow the leader activities are fun with twinklers. They love marching around the room! I do a lot of things based on that. Tip toe when the piano plays softly, stomp when the piano is loud. Glide for legato, step for staccato. I also do marching in rest position and have accompanist stop randomly. At each stop practice getting into play position and playing a twinkle rhythm on E all together, OR make a bowhold, OR whatever you’re working on that day.
Question and Answer twinkle works well too if they’re fairly confident playing the twinkles. Split the class in half and have one group be the A part and the other the B part. They only play their part.
Hot Potato with bow—have accompanist play and stop randomly. Kids are in a circle and pass a bow around. Every time they get the bow they have to make a bowhold before passing it on. When the music stops whoever has the bow is out. Have them run around the circle or do some jumping jacks or something before they come back in.
Posture Police—kids love this. Have all the kids turn around while you get set up with some atrocious posture. Then the kids turn around and have to help you fix it. It’s best if you can get them to be very specific. Do exactly what they tell you. If they just say “your bowhold is bad” change it into something else equally bad until they can tell you exactly how to do it.
Just a few ideas. Hope that helps!

Jacob Litoff said: Aug 31, 2011
 Violin, Cello, Viola
Millis, MA
48 posts

thanks dbmus… I haven’t had parent group classes yet, but it sounds like that is what I should try next, so I can explain more about this method of teaching.

Na Yang said: Aug 31, 2011
 4 posts

Thank you, Dbmus. Your ideas are great, I will use them in my group.
If any time you could think of more, please let me know.
Thank you again.

Heidi Curatolo said: Oct 19, 2011
Heidi Curatolo
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano
3 posts

Food! Potluck play-ins. I have 30 violinists for the group and more than 90 people for the potluck (parents, siblings friends)

Nalina Bauer Tran said: Sep 29, 2014
 1 posts

Deanna has some amazing pointers!

Also, sometimes what I like to do is teach one child a technique and then teach it back to me. Once I believe that they have it down, I have that kid teach another kid what they learned. This kind of helps with solidifying one’s understanding of a technique. I know this isn’t exactly a game, but it’s something to throw in the mix. :)

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