trying out orchestra


Irene said: Mar 15, 2014
Irene Yeong160 posts

my 5 year old daughter will be trying out for a spot in orchestra next week. she is currently doing book 3 . i did inform the orchestra instructor that her sight reading is poor, . he assures me that it's ok as most kids' sight reading improve after joining the orchestra. he told me that kids who can play will play, kids who can't will think of how to follow along. please advise on how to prepare…. any tips, advice greatly appreciated. thanks.

Sue Hunt said: Mar 16, 2014
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Joanne Martin's "I Can Read Music" is very useful. It separates the pitch and rhythm elements which is very useful for beginners. It has a whole page devoted to each new note or rhythmic element, so all you have to do is remember to use it every day. The exercises are quite dry so, to encourage my own children, I used to put an M&M beside each exercise that I wanted them to do.

The "Stepping Stones" Series by College and College, published by Boosey & Hawkes, is full of enticing little pieces. The violin parts are very simple. The first few pieces are pizzicato, which makes one less technical thing to worry about. The whole of the first book is devoted to open strings and the first finger, which gives a child great self confidence and the wonderful piano accompaniment makes the simple violin parts sound a million dollars. If you are not a pianist, there is a CD included.

Whatever the sight reading level of the child, I tend to start with Stepping Stones. The advanced children romp through it and quickly move on to "Wagon Wheels," which introduces the second, third and fourth fingers in 1-23-4 finger pattern. The next 2 books build on. The third book, "Fast Forward" introduces 12-3-4 and 1-2-34 patterns and compound time. Book four, "Shooting Stars" focusses on 1-2-3-4 and 1-2-34 and augmented 2nds . Triplets, syncopation and chromaticism and new bowings are introduced.

Merietta Oviatt said: Mar 16, 2014
Merietta OviattViolin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
107 posts

Is this an orchestra of students close to her age and of other Suzuki kids? Even being in book 3, I would take a hard look at having her in an orchestra where the kids are much older than her and/or if it is not a Suzuki orchestra. With that being said, you know your child and I am assuming you know the program. I have a 6 year old book 4 student in a Suzuki based orchestra, and though she is the youngest, there are other kids close to her age in the program. She is simply thriving.

As for reading, all of the suggestions that Sue made are wonderful. I would also recommend the Muller Rusch books. They offer exercises on the top of the page and then follow them up with cute little tunes that the kids like. Book one starts with specific notes on specific strings, and then up into book 2 they get into various key signatures and time signatures. Book 3 then moves into shifting and third position work.

I wish you great luck!

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
[javascript protected email address]

Irene said: Mar 17, 2014
Irene Yeong160 posts

meriatta, sue, thank you so much for your recommendations. will check out the books.

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