Group ideas for older students

Rachel Hay said: Feb 16, 2015
Rachel Hay
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Piano, Viola
1 posts

I have a group of students that are grades 4-7 playing in late book one. So many of the group class ideas and games are too young for them- they are just old enough to want to be “cool” at group lessons. Any suggestions that have worked for you? Thanks!

Anne Brennand said: Feb 17, 2015
Anne Brennand
Suzuki Association Member
Boulder, CO
37 posts

Hi Rachel. I think I recently replied to another posting about Rodney Farrar’s Fat Notes material. I am going to sound like a promo. ad for those, but they are fantastic for all ages. For kids needing that “cool” factor, there are blues selections and new age improv. selections. There are accessible and fun accompaniments for less advanced students, while more accomplished can read tenor clef or work with positions. You can purchase the music at Young Musicians and Amazon, with a beautifully recording accompanying CD, or contact Rodney directly through the SAA website. Listening is available here:’s+Fat+Notes+Cello*bration

Anne Brennand, cellist and cello teacher

Sue Hunt said: Feb 17, 2015
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

At this age, they will appreciate knowing why they have to the apparently random things that you are asking them to do.

You can still do games, but make them more boot camp style. Talk about getting muscles ready for new playing skills.

Use micro breaks in the lesson. These are not just for the very young. Kids are never too old to learn that, in order to focus to the best of your ability, the neural & muscular systems need a regular shakeout to prevent longterm injury.

Sera Jane Smolen said: Feb 17, 2015
Sera Jane Smolen
Suzuki Association Member
Ithaca, NY
24 posts

Improvisation games are great too. Creative Ability Development has book 1: Fun Improvisation For (violin, viola cello piano flute) and (the brand new) Book 2 called Bass Lines and Fantasies, and also (published a few years ago) Improvising String Quartets which has alot of group class games in it. On the one hand ISQ is the “after book 4″ book….and on the other hand there are many games in there that can be done much much earlier. Alice Kanack worked with dr. Suzuki for 10 years, then has continued with this idea of “all children are born creative” ever since. I have worked closely with her for many years and am always happy to support any teacher who is trying to understand and share these lovely ideas. The improvisation games are very fun. The students have chances to use a few specific skills in a spontaneous way because YOU have set up a particular improvisation game for them. It is a platform for teaching a miriad of things including music theory too.

When we learn to truly hear the music of children,
we learn to hear the music of the future.
—Michael Deeson Barrow

Danielle Gomez Kravitz said: Feb 21, 2015
Danielle Gomez Kravitz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
59 posts

Teams and any kind of added challenge goes over well usually for this age. Transposition is always good. I’ll do things like Perpetual Motion volleyball. You have two teams for that. Team A (or whatever name they want) starts and then whenever you clap Team A stops and Team B picks up from where Team A left off. You can do this with any piece.

I’ve also done Twinkle layers. You start with everyone play var. A. Then you split the group in half. Half does var. A and half plays var. B at the same time. If they do it correctly they should end at exactly the same time (which teaches that tempo is steady but rhythm can change). If they do well I break them up into smaller groups and add more Twinkle variations. It gets pretty challenging to stay focused and keep your rhythm steady by the time you hit all five layers. And they usually think it’s pretty funny how bad it sounds when they are playing all five variations at the same time.

Kids this age still want to have fun they just don’t want to feel babied. At this age they’re actually fine with royally messing up the first time through a challenge (they’re old enough to understand if something was correct or not). So long as the teacher keeps things light it’s funny rather than frustrating.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services